Drawing, or ‘doodling’ as Sunni Brown describes, is a crucial tool to help solve complicated business problems, thinking creatively, and aid recall.
Popularity: 41% [?]
No matter which side of the political spectrum you may land on, one has to admire our politicians for simply sitting through the seemingly endless, though important, hours of meetings and hearings that keep our country in sync. A few days ago, a friend sent me an article about one such politician who was seen/caught sketching during a hearing.
Al Franken, Senator from Minnesota and a member of the judiciary committee, was sitting through the confirmation hearing of potential Supreme Court Justice, Elena Kagan. During the long and arduous process, Franken was seen sketching the likeness of fellow judiciary committee member, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions. Depending on the political slant of the source, reports of this sketchy behavior ran from mildly amused to downright furious at this apparent show of boredom and lack of respect for our country’s due political process.
In Eastern traditions, there is a term called the Monkey Mind. It reflects our inability to mentally ‘sit still’. Everyone has experienced this with the mind racing from thought to thought like a monkey jumping from tree to tree (especially during work meetings). There are many thoughts on how to quiet the monkey mind, from yoga and meditation, to exercise and diet change. During the research process for Drawing Down the Vision, we came across an article which states that doodling can help you pay attention. After years of getting in trouble in school for doodling, it was refreshing to see evidence that students who draw during a lecture may actually be retaining more information and paying closer attention.
Which leads me back to Senator Franken. Perhaps Franken was drawing in order to stay more focused on the content of the hearing. Perhaps all of our politicians should be provided with some sketching supplies. Next time you are in a work or committee meeting where the content is important but difficult to stay excited about, try picking up a pen and paper and drawing. You could sketch the furniture in the room, the people around you, or something from your inner landscape. Try to visually represent the information to help you see things differently. In the end, you may find you have quieted the monkey mind and are a more focused and active participant in the meeting.
Popularity: 13% [?]
We’re at the Louvre… rather than focusing on the artwork, we’re photographing it to view at home, on our laptop.
We’re at the Etienne de Crecy concert in London… rather then enjoying the show, we’re recording it to share on Facebook, with people who weren’t there.
We’re at a conference… rather than listening to the speaker’s message, we’re tweeting misleading summaries of the introduction.
By drawing, we can we slow down and harness the present moment.
Searching for ideas around you, you’re forced to see, rather than just look. You’re more closely observing the myriad styles of the people on the street, the design of the office awning, or the bird perched on a skinny branch; things you’d breeze by in your typical routine. As your pen moves slowly, tracing the lines of an object yet to be realized, your care-free view of the world becomes an opportunity to put things in perspective.
The process of sketching in a journal allows you to declutter your mind and still maintain a record for posterity. As you gather these experiences in one location, you begin cultivating a nest which fosters connections between seemingly disconnected ideas. Practicing creatively documenting your life opens your mind to whole brain thinking, allowing you to form new skills to connect with the world around you, seeing things in a new light. Beyond revisiting the journal, research shows that doodling aids memory by 29%.
So, next time you’ve got a problem at work or home, rather than commiserate with yourself, get out in the world and find an interesting place, person, or thing. Try to get it down on the page. You’ll appreciate the time away and a chance to clear your mind.
Just as a bird gathers disparate materials to make its dent in the universe, you must gather the present moments you uniquely experience to make your mark on the world.
Popularity: 6% [?]
Ok, let’s compare a few ways people share perspective. Let’s start with everyone’s favorite, small talk!
Small talk is about simple things. It’s about right now, something like… the weather! Small-talk is equivalent to doodling, it’s a starting point… letting your mind wander and sharing your thoughts. Who knows where it’ll lead.
Debate is about more complex things. People gather in groups to discuss who’s better at it. Debate is equivalent to drawing, people also gather to discuss who’s better at it! Both in debate and in drawing, you’ve got a picture of how it all works in your head… you just need to make others see it, either in their head or on a piece of paper.
When we draw, our pencil moves slower than our mind, we can only share so much of what we’re thinking… usually the simplest, but most important, stuff.
We begin drawing by focusing on the obvious details, we start with an outer line… an outline. Then we gradually fill in the details… a few lines here, some shading over there, maybe a big arrow to connect one thing to another. Throughout this process, we’re defining how one object relates to another… where it’s placed, how big it is, how heavily shaded it is. By it’s very nature, drawing is about establishing perspective. Clear perspective allows us to better communicate solutions to complex problems.
So next time you’re doodling… maybe you’ll consider kicking it up a notch and start drawing?
Popularity: 17% [?]