I remember a moment I had back in high school with my English teacher.She was sitting at her desk as she usually did, lecturing to the classroom and there I was—sitting at my desk doodling all over the pages of my notebook. Well, when she saw me and thought I was goofing off, she stopped what she was doing and yelled at me to pay attention. I informed her I was listening so she requested I tell the class what she had been saying. So I did.

Student 1. Teacher 0.

Doodling is just not idling, passing time scribbling on a piece of paper. For many, doodling is a beneficial and necessary means to capture moments when information density is very high. Doodling has the benefit of keeping our minds occupied and therefore, focused.

There is no particular technique and you don’t have to be a great artist to be a doodler. Whatever you’re drawing, whether it’s simple shapes or more detailed illustrations, doodling helps you unclutter your mind.

Sunni Brown, author of The Doodle Revolution has identified five types of doodlers:

The Abstract Doodler—Often make geometric patterns or images that don’t become any recognizable shape or form.

The Picture Doodler—Often draw recognizable objects and figures, each having a clear meaning.

The Face Doodler—Focus on faces and portraits.

The Word Doodler—Word doodlers repeatedly write the same word down, sometimes changing fonts and using underlines or shapes to contain the words. John F. Kennedy was an avid word doodler.

The Nature Doodler—Drawing inspiration from nature, these doodlers like to draw mountain ranges, flowers, etc. Franklin Delano Roosevelt and J.R.R. Tolkien were both gifted nature doodlers.

doodles

Can you guess which types these two doodles are?

While no one type of doodler is more intelligent than the next, people generally tend to fit into one of these five categories. Hybrid types, those that can doodle in more than one style, are a rarer individual.

Some famous doodlers include Mark Twain, Franz Kafka, Bill Gates, Thomas Edison, Leonardo da Vinci and every president from Washington to Obama. Not bad company to be associated with.

So if you find yourself doodling at your next meeting and the little voice in the back of your head is telling you to quit before you get caught, don’t listen to it and keep doodling. Chances are pretty good you’ll leave that meeting retaining more than if you left with only notes on your paper.