Doodling, Note Keeping, Wellness at Work. What do they tell us?

Do you find yourself on a call, in a meeting or even sat at your desk alone in front of your computer and you almost sub-consciously pick up your pen. Your pen is then used to draw a manner of things; boxes subdivided into more boxes which are then partially shaded in, circles or varying sizes some linked some not, perhaps you draw letters or words over and over. Your drawings maybe complex and fill the page or they may be sparse and simple.

You might write your name over and over, perhaps change the surname to the object of your affection. You might draw unhappy faces or faces shedding tears. You may draw your football teams initials or you may not do any of this and not pick up your pen at all. Doodling. Doodling is the name for this practice of mindless (or is it mindful?) sketching and writing. Look through your notepad and see what your style of doodling is.

Do you keep neat notes, well spaced and meticulously dated with not one doodle to be seen? Or do you write notes horizontally, vertically, maybe in bubbles and covered with doodles in between? Doodling at work can be perceived by managers as a disengaged employee, however, the research suggests doodling is, in fact, a positive thing.

A recent study on memory showed those who doodled during a test had significantly better recall than those who didn’t. Another study suggested that doodling is the brain’s way of staying focused for longer and helping a person stay awake during an intense activity. Doodling is thus a form of fidgeting, something we have blogged about in previous years. Doodling can tell professionals a lot about the subconscious, for example, what looks like random words may on closer inspection reveal signs or worry or upset.

We are not suggesting employers review their employees’ doodles. We are suggesting is that doodling should not be viewed as an employee not paying attention. Quite the opposite perhaps! So what’s in doodle? Doodling is a fantastic way to “mind dump” all those racing thoughts onto paper, leaving your brain free to concentrate on the task at hand. It also helps unleash that pent-up creativity.

Here are some common doodles and what they may mean:

  • Boxes: A sign of structure and control. Someone who likes to plan and think, creating strategy. Just watch those boxes don’t start piling up…
  • Flowers: A sign of positivity and happiness, a peaceful place. Drooping flowers may indicate some underlying worries.
  • Faces: Happy, smiling faces and attractive faces can indicated positivity and happiness. Sad or unattractive faces may indicate some inner sadness or anger.
  • Arrows: What way are they facing? Going up? Optimism! Goind down? Pessimisn or worry.
  • Initials: Whose?! Initials indicate who you are thinking about the most. (Note, your own initials do indeed mean yourself!)
  • Stick Figures? Commonly doodled by highly successful people! The simple stick figure reveals someone who is in control of their emotions and incredibly focused on their own goals. We bet you now start doodling stick men….!

Equally….they may just be doodles.

Where do you doodle? Top of the page? Your thoughts are very important to you….perhaps you want your voice to be heard. Centre of the page? A sign of wanting attention. Common doodling place of an extrovert! In the allocated margins? To the left? Nostalgia and a note of the past. To the right? A stickler for detail.

What about those who don’t doodle then? Who have the uniform, clean notebooks with only their neatly written handwriting? Should we worry that they aren’t sketching away? We don’t think so. It would be interesting to know how they focus and recall or what they do for a release from thoughts though.

If you have a wellness programme or are looking to implement one, clinics and workshops that focus on Mental Health can be made less scary for employees by using many tools, such as the topic above. Showing mental health is not something to be feared is the key. We hope you enjoyed the article and have taken something away from the doodles! Contact us for more information today.