Brain doodle illustration with textures, different parts of the brain in different colours.
Image: © kirasolly/

Doodle your way to success: 3 tips to power productivity through drawing

2 Sep 2019

Research has shown the many ways that doodling can boost your brain power. Learn how to make the most of it with these top tips.

Whether you’re an amateur artist, a professional painter or a total art novice, chances are you’ve taken your pen to paper to doodle at some time or another.

Doodling while you’re in the office or classroom can be viewed negatively. Sometimes taken as a signal of procrastination, boredom or disinterest, the doodle has traditionally gotten a pretty bad rap.

But, as outlined by Fast Company, research shows that doodling can actually help boost memory and cognition, inspire creativity and remind us to relax.

Brain benefits

It’s becoming more and more clear that we all learn in different ways. At one time, it was widely believed that listening was the only effective way to distil and apply information. Yet many of us work better with visuals, drawing, writing and a whole host of other forms.

Drawing those random shapes in your notepad can even contribute to maintaining your mental wellbeing. As shown in a research study, blood flow to the brain’s prefrontal cortex, an important part of the brain’s reward pathway, increased during three different artistic activities: doodling, colouring and free drawing.

As well as activating feelings of reward, doodling engages more of our senses, stimulating more parts of the brain, which, ultimately, allows us to be present in the moment and opens our mind to new ideas.

Tips for aspiring doodlers

Sunni Brown, author of The Doodle Revolution, said: “It’s such a simple tool, but it has so many implications and so many areas where it makes a real difference for people.”

Brown began to acknowledge the power of doodling as she travelled for work. “I noticed this universal thing happening that seemed to be very useful, powerful, helpful and natural, but it had no place in any of our institutions. There was a disconnect there,” she added.

Brown has since published her top tips for doodling your way to success:

1 Listen for the main points

In meetings or classes, speakers often repeat their main point multiple times. Capture that and then start doodling around it.

“Even if you took your pen and made one gigantic circle around it and repeated that circle over and over, that in itself is an act of cementing memory,” Brown said.

2 Be mindful

Even just drawing a continuous line that curves and twists across a piece of paper can be enough to relax us.

Brown said: “There’s all these other meditative and mindfulness aspects of it. When you’re playing in that space, then it’s really about settling the mind down … that is very useful for the learning process.

“When we are trying to take in information and our mind is really busy, then it makes it difficult to absorb content.”

3 Don’t aim for perfection

The pictures on the page don’t have to be sophisticated or elegant.

“When you write a word, also draw a picture or draw a shape or put it in a structure,” Brown said.

“Just start to give whatever it is that you’re creating another expression, another form, and not just words and numbers. Give it shapes and images and symbols and colour and structure, and just see what happens.”

Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

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