While taking notes in class or in a business meeting, most people (especially creative ones) find themselves doodling in the margins of their notebooks or even on a stray napkin. However, this isn’t just a mindless, pointless activity. In the Journal of Applied Cognitive Psychology, a study has found that doodling can improve a person’s ability to retain information by 29%. The mind is a fascinating thing and you will be surprised how doodling helps your thinking!
Visual learning is a powerful tool for strategic thinking, brainstorming and business planning. Some of the million dollar ideas have originated just from images on a piece of paper or post-it note. Even President Obama admits that he doodles in business meetings. In an interview in 2012 he says,”…sometimes when I’m in a big, important international meeting and you see me writings stuff down, it might be that I’m just drawing some, drawing some folks”. Many other presidents/politicians have also been caught drawing in meetings including JFK, Ronald Reagan and Hillary Clinton. So if well known people have found doodling helpful, it must be true.
Doodling can also be a way for children to burn some physical energy in class. While listening with a pen, the child is actually more engaged in the content and processes what they hear even more. A learner will recall a map they drew much more than long handwritten notes. Pictures allow the person to break down complex ideas into a more basic level of understanding.
Our brains are highly visual. As your pen hits the paper, you are opening your mind to ideas, insight and inspiration. Doodles can unite different neural pathways to the brain, creating higher levels of concentration and bring you closer to finding your “a-ha” moment.
Words alone can’t allow you to discover a new idea. So while brainstorming or learning, pick up a pen or pencil and start to free draw. Whether it be just lines and shapes or even faces of people, this can help you think in more ways than you will ever know.