Doodling: The most deceptive art in the office

A simple house — maybe surrounded by puffy clouds. Trees. A face with crazy hair. A repetitive geometric shape. These are doodles that appear again and again on notepads across the country, jotted down during meetings by employees at every level in every organization. The question is: Is doodling a meaningless diversion or does it actually serve a purpose?

If science and history are any indication, doodling can be more than just a pastime.

  • Doodlers retain 29% more information, according to a study from University of Plymouth.
  • An article in LiveScience posits that doodling acts as a learning tool that helps people visualize and sort out material.
  • Accomplished doodlers include Bill Gates, Hillary Clinton and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
  • Some of John Lennon’s doodles have fetched millions of dollars.

You don’t need to be Van Gogh.

In fact, a 2015 article in The Atlantic offered this wisdom: “I give no points for the aesthetic quality of a doodle,” says Sunni Brown, author of the recently published The Doodle Revolution, a book about developing concepts through pictures, “because the perceived skill has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the learning experience for the doodler.” A picture that’s utterly hideous may still have taught the creator something significant. Learning, not aesthetic sophistication, is the goal.

So, the next time you’re in a meeting, scan the room for doodlers. Chances are, these are the folks who are most likely to understand what’s being discussed, remember the salient points and then deliver the best solutions