Why doodling is the cure for at-work brain farts

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

"So, that's the idea in a nutshell. Bill, I'd really love to hear what you think." Bill thinks nothing, because the nutshell was huge and his mind wandered. So Bill stinks up the room with his silent-but-violent brain fart.

Tut tut, Bill. You should've doodled your way through. Here's why doodling is a serious player in the office concentration game.

The rise of visual thinking

Search Twitter for 'sketchnotes' or 'visual facilitation'. You’ll find hundreds of amazing illustrators who make a living drawing serious, money-making ideas for serious, money-making businesses.

Whiteboard explainer videos, where spoken words are simultaneously drawn out by hand, have exploded in popularity – thanks to their ability to boost problem solving and memory.

The Mindfulness Colouring Book: Anti-Stress Art Therapy for Busy People is an international bestseller. It's for adults and is available in 16 'languages', though I'm unsure how you ‘translate’ a black-and-white geometric pattern.

It's conventional wisdom now that drawings – and drawing – can boost information intake, concentration, attentiveness and recall.

Proving the power of the doodle

This is especially true of doodling, when you draw spontaneous images that are unrelated to what you're listening to.

One academic study found that people who doodled were able to remember 29% more of what they'd heard than those who didn't.

Sunni Brown is the author of The Doodle Revolution: Unlock the Power to Think Differently. Here's what Sunni has to say about doodling:

We think doodling is something you do when you lose focus, but in reality, it is a pre-emptive measure to stop you from losing focus.

Stop the doodle shaming

When Hillary Clinton was 'caught' doodling during a UN meeting, the press had a field day with headlines about switching off and tuning out.

But Clinton is just the latest high-profile figure to discover the benefits of doodling during mentally-strenuous work. There's a whole book devoted to the doodles of former American presidents.

Under no circumstances should doodling be eradicated from a classroom or a boardroom or even the war room. On the contrary, doodling should be leveraged in precisely those situations where information density is very high and the need for processing that information is very high. – Sunni Brown

Next time you 'catch' a colleague doodling as you speak, don't assume they're bored. And if you feel yourself slipping away from the task at hand, reach for the sketchpad and pencil.

Let's talk doodles

Do you doodle? Does it help? Let's chat below the line or on Twitter.

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