As a recent graduate from the Landscape Architecture program at Kansas State University, I have had a lot of practice taking notes. But looking back on my old school notebooks, I’ve noticed that most of my notes aren’t notes at all – they are doodles of birds, faces, hands, or whatever happened to be in the room that day. In fact, I probably have more drawn pictures in these notebooks than actual written words. It wasn’t until my last year of college while working on my thesis that I realized all those doodles were probably just as important as the notes themselves.

Design is a highly creative field that requires its practitioners to be creative and imaginative people. One way to improve that creativity and imagination is through the practice of doodling. In my research study, two groups of people were given a simple creativity test that measured the four aspects of creativity: fluency, flexibility, originality, and elaboration. One group was given only the creativity test and the other group participated in a short doodling activity before they were given the test. The results showed that the group who doodled beforehand had a significant increase in their originality and elaboration. The study concluded that doodling was beneficial in promoting imagination and creativity. You can read the full report on my study here.

While doodling may seem like a mindless activity or a guilty pleasure, it can play a key role in achieving creative outcomes. Doodling is an activity that is quickly done in almost any situation, and with any amount of time. The doodles are beneficial even when they are done during class on college ruled notebook paper. So, the next time you’re looking for a creative spark – step away from the keyboard, pick up a pen and paper, and take a few minutes to doodle!