This week I invite you to take a little “brain break” and give your thinking mind some time off. For a few minutes each day, give yourself permission to doodle. On your notepad at work. On a napkin while waiting at a restaurant. On a pad of paper before you go to bed. When ever, where ever you get the chance, doodle.
Doodling by definition is absentmindedly drawing pictures without really knowing what you’re drawing to begin with. (dictionary.com) So it doesn’t have to be anything specific. Just doodle what pops into your head.
Doodling is something that a lot of us have gotten into trouble for over the years. This is why I said, “give yourself permission”, because we’ve come to see doodling as a bad thing. People see someone doodling and assume they aren’t paying attention. While that can sometimes be true, in my experience doodling helps people to pay more attention to what they are doing.
I was the student that was always illustrating what the teachers were talking about. I still do it to this day in classes or meetings. Not anything elaborate, just stick figures and little drawings. Illustrating things as I’m being taught helps to solidify the concepts in my head. It also helps me to pay more attention. This sounds counter intuitive, but really, it’s not. If I’m listening and drawing things out as I go, then I’m still focused on what is being said. If I’m just trying to listen then my mind will often wander and I’ll lose what the teacher is saying. This has nothing to do with the teachers, or their style of teaching, it’s just the way my mind tends to process things.
If you need to do something like this to help you pay attention, to help you learn, then I say go for it. As far as I know they don’t teach “Illustrating Your Professor’s Lessons” in any study habits classes. Maybe that’s a new idea for someone. Study habits that are outside the box. What works for each of us may be different. Honor who you are and how your mind works. You’ll learn a lot more in the long run than you would by trying to force yourself into someone else’s box.
Studying is not the only area that doodling can benefit us. It’s a simple way to relieve stress. Those little moments that we take throughout the day to relieve stress may not seem like much, but they add up. Taking these 5- or 10-minute breaks keeps all of that from piling up and exploding at some point later on.
Doodling also opens your mind up to seeing new possibilities. Where someone might just see an equal sign, you may see eyes or a mouth. I mean, this is how the whole world of emojis began…..=).
To some doodling seems pointless, but it can serve a greater purpose. Read about the Nazca Lines in Peru. Seeming doodles all over the desert. They are starting to find out that these lines had a larger purpose. Among other things, they pointed the way to water sources, which was the basis for life.
While your doodles may not point to water, they may point to a life-changing solution to a problem you’ve been trying to solve for a while. They may point to that new job that you’ve been trying to decide whether or not to take. They may point to that new dream that you’ve been attempting to pursue.
If you need a little more guidance, or if you want an extra challenge, try this: Draw two or three random lines or squiggles on a page, touching or not. Then make a picture out of those lines. (See the pictures below for doodling ideas.) If you have a hard time finding something to draw, turn the page around, shift your perspective.
You can draw several different squiggles and lines at the beginning of the day or week and then go back to it each time you see something a little different. I have doodles laying around that I will add to here and there. Or if I’m writing in a journal or notebook, I’ll have doodles in the margins that I add to when I see them again.
You could tag team with your spouse, roommates, co-workers, or friends: Put a squiggle or lines on a page, leave it in a common area, and then each person can add to it as they go by throughout the day. It’s pretty neat to watch how each person sees something different.
Click on the link below to get 15 different images that you can print out and use to get you started.
The basic idea is that you just put your pen (pencil, crayon, marker, whatever you have handy) to your paper and start drawing. You don’t have to have any idea what you’re drawing or why.
Have fun with it, see what random things you come up with. Post pictures of your doodles on our Facebook page, or tag us in your doodle pictures on Instagram(@thenovelturtle). It’s always fun to see what others come up with.
See our related post for more ideas, “What Do Our Doodles Mean? 5 More Ideas for Doodling”