The Value of Doodling - American Society of Employers - Susan Chance

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The Value of Doodling

Last week I read a post on LinkedIn where the poster shared her need to be busy all the time. It caused me to recall how often my dad used to say, “Do something while you are resting.” That fostered a need in me to keep my hands busy all the time.

This shows up in many ways depending on the place and situation. In meetings at work, I have the habit of doodling. It’s not that I am bored or not engaged, and I do pay attention. It is just that I have that need to keep my hands busy. It turns out that this is a good thing as studies have shown that doodling can help your brain in many ways including being a better listener.

When we are working, we are actively engaged in “doing” so we are paying attention to what it is that we are doing. In meetings most of us are there to listen and take in information, which takes our mind out of the doing mode. This can cause people to daydream, reminisce, or think about the work waiting for them. Doodling engages a different part of the brain that helps us to stay aware of what is happening in the meeting.

Doodling can also help to improve memory. There was a study out of the University in Plymouth in the UK that had half of the participants doodle while listening to a boring phone message while the other half just listed. The participants who doodled while listening were able to recall more of the information in the recording than those who only listened.

Another study showed that people who doodled while listening to a list of names had 29% more recall than those who only listened. This recall boost also helps when learning something new.

Creativity is enhanced by doodling and several famous authors past and present have doodled while writing. These authors include Fyodor Dostoyevsky and J. K. Rowling.

It turns out that doodling can also help to reduce stress. One psychologist, Christine Selby, recommends drawing a continuous line which crosses itself over and over. The repetitive motion helps to create calmness.

For those of us who are very detailed people, doodling can help us to get out of detail mode and more into looking at the overall picture. It also seems it can bring ideas out of our subconscious onto paper. In a study of how students approach design, professor Gabriela Goldschmidt found that while one of her students was having trouble with his project for a kindergarten design, he did some doodling. The patterns that showed in the student’s doodles helped him to create his design.

If you see employees doodling in meetings or while working, or if you find yourself doodling, remember that it is helping in many positive ways.




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