October ended and November started with a bunch of exhibitions everywhere around the world presenting inktober artworks. If you are not familiar with the concept, it is simply doodling art!
The inktober movement first came to life in 2009 as a way for concept artist, illustrator & animator Jake Parker to develop positive drawing habits. But it soon spread to being one of the trends of the decade. Begging the question should doodling be left for the artists and pros?
Legendary moves can start with a stick figure
Google’s ever-changing iconic homepage logo is a brand of its own. But What you might not know is that it all started with a simple doodle. In 1998, before Google was even incorporated founders Larry Page & Sergey Brin were playing around with the company logo to indicate their attendance at the Burning man Festival by drawing a stick figure behind one of the Os. It started out as an “Out of the office” joke but it was so well received by people that a couple of years later Google appointed their first ever chief doodler.
The Value in Visual Language
The positive reactions toward such simple yet impactful moves are not surprising. We are taught that thought is language, when in fact visual thinking and visual language has been favored by man for decades. From cavemen to the much more civilized Pharos all used visual languages to communicate their stories.
Doodling is not just for the artist and the success of these movements prove so, However, the fear of putting pen to paper and coming out with less than a Monalisa is frightening for some of us.
But what if you consider doodling as a way to train your brain into a more visual approach to life. To make this even more productive, we will show you how doodling on the job can be your gateway to surviving many work predicaments.
Predicament #1: Bored at meetings?
Your brain in a meeting
When you start your work week, the meetings and briefings you need to attend are always in your peripheral vision. Even if you love your job, let’s be honest not every meeting would be as stimulating as you hope it to be.
When your brain is just consuming information, it tends to go into a sort of a default state until you give it it’s next task. Just like a power saving mode, it’s technically still working but it’s not actively engaging. But never the less you need to stay online for the meeting or most of it at least.
Doodling has been proven to give your brain just the right amount of stimulation without adding to any of your brain’s executive functions. According to a 2011 study published in The Lancet, doodling helps the “brain remain active by engaging its default networks—regions that maintain a baseline of activity in the cerebral cortex when outside stimuli are absent.”
Staying online & other helpful tricks
Doodling gets a bad rep that it’s equivalent to disconnecting. But unlike using your phone or daydreaming which requires more focus and brain activity. Doodling is about staying engaged, processing information and communicating that onto a page.
You can also use doodling as a fun form of visual note-taking. By using “Info-doodles” a combination of images & keywords that can help you keep the notetaking process more entertaining. Doodling doesn’t only act as a fidgeting scapegoat to keep you awake & attentive. Using visual notes also helps with information retention.
Predicament #2: Creativity block?
How do you expect your brain to create?
When we usually think of being creative, we think of innovative concepts & ideas just springing into our minds and usually, that’s how it works. But when you need to be creative on command for a longer period of time, your mind can’t be expected to constantly magically whip creative concepts up. You have to find new ways to get the creative beast out to play.
Doodling can produce creative insight, because “when the mind starts to engage with visual language, you get neurological access that you don’t have when you’re in a linguistic mode,” says Brown. Most of us use reading, writing, and talking to brainstorm, but “the human mind is very habit forming,” she says. To break that habit, you have to think in an unfamiliar medium–a visual medium.
Dooling, your creative beast & visual association
There’s a saying that when you’re mentally stuck, you should either move your feet or your hands. Your brain is better at processing things physically. If it’s a problem that has many aspects maybe try drawing a diagram that helps you tie things together more neatly.
Doodling helps you make free associations between objects. You can start with an infinity sign and end up with a half human, half alien hybrid, trust me I have tried. When your mind is given the capacity to roam freely with a visual medium you won’t just end up with a drawing but sometimes even a narrative.
Predicament #3: Fading memory & learning new skills
Keep your information visual
Since images seem to stick more then words do. It’s just another incentive to keep your information in a visual form. From neuroscience to business terms, you can doodle your way into learning anything. Doodling can be defined as a way to make spontaneous marks with your mind and your body in order to help yourself think.
Doodle can be strategic
According to Edgar Dale’s Cone of Experience, we remember 90% of what we design, model or perform.
Leaning a new anything is always hard, especially if you’re an adult. Unlike a child, you’re more conscious of the learning process & your development which can be frustrating. But using doodles to visually connect concepts can help in their retention later on, as well as make the process more fun.
One of the main studies in favor of doodling was conducted by professor Jackie Andrade in 2009 where she found that doodlers recalled facts & information better than non-doodlers. In her study, participants were asked to listen to a boring message recording & write down the names mentioned in the recording. Half of the participants were given the choice to doodle while listening, the other half were asked to only listen and write down the names, no doodling allowed. Those who doodled during the tape recalled 7.5 pieces of information (out of 16 total) on average, some 29% more than the average of 5.8 recalled by the control group.
Predicament #4: Stress & facing difficult decisions
Doodling is for the big fish too
Doodling has been a favorite habit among many US presidents, CEOs, artists, and scientist. Bill Gates is a prominent example of prolific doodlers that use doodling to think and solve problems.
Being in a managerial position is like tiptoeing around a boiling pot. You constantly need to make high-stakes decisions, have answers and no matter where you step the pot has to blow off steam at some point. It might seem like too easy of an answer but spontaneous drawing is all you need. It will offer you the ability to relieve some of this piling psychological distress in a quick easy mindless way.
Doodling is your crystal ball
Doodling might not be the first thing to come to mind when you need to make a big decision at work, but it should be. Doodling activates your default mode network (DMN), it helps you clear your mind to assess the situation at hand better.
The DMN is responsible for shuffling memories back and forth to make connections that eventually lead to creative insights and problem-solving. All things a high-stakes manager needs. The DMN predictive nature acts as your own crystal ball when faced with problems that need a futuristic insight.
Predicament #5: Communication
When words fail you, doodle
Communicating your ideas to your colleagues can be a very tiring and very daunting task. Words are a tricky medium, because of the abundance of spoke language we often fall short at finding the exact right word to present a rather innovative concept. While visual language is a more limited medium not by nature but by lack of practice. For example, if you ask me how my day was and I want to communicate that I am having a bad day I can use words like “ terrible, dreadful, awful, lousy, frustrating” or phrases like “I woke up on the wrong side of bed today” or I can simply give you a thumbs down which will some up my answer.
The “Whiteboard culture”
We -at WUZZUF, adopt the “whiteboard culture” as a way to infuse visual thinking and creativity into their culture. Every now and then we post questions, start drawings and see how they will finish. Some companies even dedicate a whole room where their employees to write on the walls and be creative. Making your team attack a problem with one shared visual helps them get more engaged, organized, map out the problem and clarify their ideas better. When you turn the problem-solving predicament into a physical task rather than a mental one it would seem less daunting to tackle.
Doodling is a habit that should be adopted whether you got lucky and ended up with the artist gene or not. Simply because it’s value is not in how artistic your outcome is but what the process helped you accomplish from solving a problem to learning a new trait. It’s filled with a wide array of benefits. So what are you waiting for? Start doodling!