Hello! I am back with another blog in the Art series. I will have to admit that this topic has been a revelation for me too! I was researching on ways and means to take easy and quick class notes for visual thinkers when I stumbled upon ways to enhance visual language and the role that doodling plays in it.
I realise that somehow, whenever people have a pen in hand and should be, well focused, the margins of their notebooks seem to fill up with numbers, letters, shapes or name written in many ways! Yet most of us have not reflected on why we feel compelled to draw. The underlying assumption when one doodle’s is that he/she is not paying attention. In fact, the dictionary meaning of a doodle describes it to “scribble absent-mindedly”.
But, would you believe that doodling is really not a distraction! In fact, doodling is a creative act and has the capacity to improve memory, focus and cognition. According to research, all that free-form scribbling can actually help you concentrate and retain information, especially during dull tasks.
In these modern days, kids are more overwhelmed than ever. Information and opportunities are abound. However, this abundance can lead to stress, lack of focus and multitasking and in general, humans are not very good at multitasking. Doodling, however, is about the only thing our brains can take on when we are already doing something else.
Not only is doodling not counterproductive, but science has found that doodling actually has many benefits to the doodler.
What are the benefits exactly?
Below are four scientifically verified benefits of doodling.
In the book GameStorming: A Playbook for Rule-breakers, Innovators, and Changemakers Sunni Brown talks about doodling’s ability to enhance creativity. The reason behind this is that doodling uses three additional learning modalities in our brains. The three modalities are:
Because we are using three learning modalities simultaneously to process information, we are able to absorb information much better. The multiple modalities allow us to think of new ways to solve problems because we are liberating ourselves from a linear and one-dimensional information processing experience. In other words, doodling enhances how we take in information and how we interpret the said information. And as a result of using multiple learning modalities, it also enhances the way we think about the information by connecting unconnected neural pathways in the brain.
A study conducted found that doodlers recalled facts 29% better than non-doodlers. This is because doodling engages the brain’s ‘executive resources’ — processes that help us plan, multi-task and concentrate. Engaging our executive resources with doodles while we are listening to a lecture or phone call makes sure that those resources don’t wander off on their own to think about the grocery list or our plans for the weekend. Encouraging students to doodle during note-taking might actually increase their retention (just make sure they don’t doodle on the desk).
Often people think that doodlers are daydreaming, with the mind wandering off somewhere. However, it has been found that the act of doodling actually reinforces the brain to pay attention instead of drifting off. It forces your brain to expend just enough energy to stop it from daydreaming but not so much that you don’t pay attention. Sunni Brown states that “ the act of doodling itself, drawing shapes and symbols, actually forces the mind to slow down and focus on the present.”
According to various studies, doodling helps you hit the sweet spot in your brain, the spot where you are paying close attention but you are not overthinking things.
Sometimes when we are too focused on something, we overthink things, especially the little details that often don’t matter. As a result of focusing on the small details, we fail to see the big picture. By doodling, we don’t pay as much attention to the small details of the information we absorb. Instead, we tend to focus on overarching ideas, which are paramount to seeing the big picture.
So the next time you catch yourself doodling and think “I should really pay attention”, don’t worry – you already are!