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Why You Should Never Underestimate the Power of the Doodle

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My hands are never still. 

I can’t recall a time when I was ever truly still, without immediately aching for something to do with my hands. 

At school, I persisted in handwriting my assignments long after laptops were acceptable accessories to have in the classroom, just so I didn’t feel like my restlessness was taking over me. At university, all of my notes would be covered in doodles, stars, scribbles, circles and spirals. There was never a page in my folder that didn’t have an elaborately designed border or a pretty dividing pattern between the paragraphs on it. 

The interesting thing is I am not an artist. Or, I suppose, more accurately, I do not create art in the conventional sense of the word. I cannot draw realistic portraits, or bring characters in my head to life on paper.  

But I do doodle. 

I doodle all the time. 

Recently I started a new job, and while I feel far less pressure at this one than I did my last, I’ve found I doodle far more than I used to before. Now, my to-do lists have more spirals than they have items, and some days I can cover two full A4 pages in scribbles without even realizing I’m doing this. 

Interestingly, I’ve never found myself to be behind in my work, even with this strange little pastime very present in my life. 

In truth, I’ve found doodling grounds me. It has the same effect on me as coloring in or watching fish swim in a tank. There is something incredibly welcome and soothing about knowing that wherever you move your pen, a line of ink will follow. It’s something you’re creating, even if it may not feel like a masterwork or even any good at all. 

Right now, I use my doodles as a form of meditation. When a meeting was a bit too long, or a report is due that needs my full attention, I take a few minutes out to doodle. Just a few minutes of letting my pen curve around and around a continuous spiral pattern is enough to get me back into the headspace I need to be in to work on what needs to be done.  

And the best thing about it is there is no right or wrong. There is no painting within the lines. There is just you, your pen, and whatever comes to mind to scribble on the paper before you. In this way, my perfectionism doesn’t even come near my work environment and certainly doesn’t ruin the mood when I set to work afterward.  notebook with list filled with spiral doodles

So if you’re a doodler, or have wanted to be a doodler, take it up. Doodle away. Get a notebook and fill it with your scribbling, start making borders on your printouts (if you don’t have to hand them into your boss or a client afterward, of course), create beautiful dividers for your folders or pretty headings for your work. 

Let your mind relax, whenever you need throughout the day, with a scribble or two. 

It’s definitely helped me.

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Originally published: June 12, 2017
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