Four Reasons Why You Should Doodle

If you’ve got a creative streak, you probably remember being told to quit drawing on the margins of your notes in school or sneaking sharpied sunflowers and spirals under your sleeves so your parents wouldn’t get the chance to tell you off about ink poisoning.

Traditional wisdom says that doodling — defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as aimless or casual scribbling and sketching — is distracting, childish, and generally counterproductive. But perhaps this assumption should be reexamined.

CREATING VISUALS

Even if you aren’t an artist, engages completely different pathways in your mind than writing, allowing for greater creativity. Humans are deep learners, and it’s only intuitive that interacting with the same material on several different levels makes it easier to conceptualize and understand. In the same way, doodles engage a creative side of our brains that the rigid structure of words and sentences cannot.

Switching from spoken language to visual language allows for two different modes of brainstorming and unlocks pathways and connections in your mind; you may never have been able to access otherwise.

INSPIRING IMAGES

Our brains are wired to respond to images, rather than walls of text. Have you ever found yourself staring at pages and pages of notes, unsure of where to begin reading them? Have you ever felt your eyes unfocus staring at near lines of text, finding the monotony hard to follow?

You probably aren’t alone — most people have trouble differentiating between pages of text, even pages are written in their own handwriting.

Reviewing notes, no matter how tediously organized, weeks or months after taking them might seem daunting. Perhaps that sunflower in the corner or the scribbles in the margins of the page are​ what you need to remember your place by.

IMPROVE YOUR MEMORY AND FOCUS

A study conducted by the University of Plymouth school of psychology challenger generally accepted assumptions about doodling[1]. Researchers compared whether a group of doodlers would remember a phone call better than a group of non-doodlers, and found that participants who doodled recalled 29% more information than participants who did not. Researchers theorized that doodling might help reduce distraction and daydreaming in monotonous situations like meetings and phone calls.

WE’VE BEEN DOING IT FOR CENTURIES

Humans doodle as naturally as we breathe — despite the bad reputation of the activity, it seems we have been doing it since the beginning of time. Historian Erik Kwakkel, speaking to CNN[2], described doodles found in 700-year-old European manuscripts — bored-looking dogs, peeking faces, and men in overlarge crowns.

Similar doodles have been found on pieces of bark dating back to 1260. Even when ink and parchment were rare commodities, people couldn’t help but spice up their writing with little sketches.

Doodling, scribbling, and break up the mundanity our texts is natural, helpful, and has a long, proud tradition behind it. So perhaps it’s time to ditch the rules drilled into our heads in schools and let the creativity flow into the margins of our everyday life.

 

[1] Andrade, J. (2010), What does doodling do?. Appl. Cognit. Psychol., 24: 100-106. doi:10.1002/acp.1561

 

[2] Simons, Jake Wallis. “Gold Mine of Cheeky Medieval Doodles Shows Ancestors Just as Silly as Us.” CNN, Cable News Network, 30 June 2015, www.cnn.com/style/article/medieval-doodles/index.html.

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