Menu Home

The Power of Doodle

Sabretooth Dolphin

When teaching study skills my students once asked me how to focus during a 2 hours long lecture. Mind you this particular class was full of what commonly would be labeled as ‘creative people’ (game designers), who despite my interactive and fast-beat workshop-style seminar could not help but fidget. Up to this point I never stood in front of a class where literally every single student was continuously fidgeting, moving about, playing with their pens. So we talked about strategies for focusing, and I told them to go ahead and doodle.

Something that may induce eye-rolling in colleagues is actually now runner-up for a strategy that enhances recollection of information as Jackie Andrade found in a research project.

As someone who suffered through twelves years of school, plagued by perpetual boredom and the inability to sit quietly and listen, doodles have prevented me a many times from slamming my head against the desk pleading for mercy, or throwing my stationary out of the window, and start dancing on the table … anything to flee being glued to that darn chair. Oh look the sparrows have their nest underneath the sun-blinds again.

Advantages of Doodle during class/seminars/meetings:

  1. more memory retention
  2. calming side-effects of ADD
  3. help you focus
  4. prevent you from annoying the teacher/lecturer/presenter

If you have to write a paper or dissertation, or you are brooding over a problem sometimes you get to a point when you can physically feel your brain kicking in gear, but you cannot grasp it—yet. There are a lot of strategies that help. Some people have the best ideas or greatest insights, from these unconscious processes: under the shower, when going for a walk, waking up in the middle of the night, or experiencing a eureka-moment before falling asleep. Usually the ideas come when the body and mind are in a somewhat relaxed state.

Advantages of Doodle for Thinking at the Edge*:

Doodling helps to relax and the physical aspects of ‘creating’ something seem to provide a link to subconscious processes, expressing initially intangible workings of the mind. Another such technique is free-writing**, it helps to focus and get into the moment—enjoying the flow***.

Do make this post a big more interesting here are some more doodles. I made them one evening, while pondering about the revisions for my literature review and trying to convince myself that I really ought not to rewrite the whole thing.


Des Menschen Wille ist sein Himmelreich.

The will of men is his paradise.

Like Cat’n’Mouse

  • *“THINKING AT THE EDGE” (in German: “WO NOCH WORTE FEHLEN”) is a systematic way to articulate in new terms something which needs to be said but is at first only an inchoate “bodily sense.”
  • ** I am going to write about this in another post
  • *** Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1996) Creativity. Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention. Harper Perennial: New York.

Categories: Teaching

Tagged as:

Nathalie Sheridan

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: