What is a Doodle?

A definition of a doodle taken straight from the dictionary points out that a doodle is a rough drawing made absent-mindedly. And of course to be absent-minded means that you display inattentive or forgetful behavior. This doesn’t seem to give much credence to the doodle, does it?

When it comes to visual thinking and the context within which we use a doodle, it’s a very different story. A doodle is a conscious act not an absent-minded act. We doodle because we want to take our thoughts out of our head and put them down on paper — to help clarify our thinking. This process allows us to keep our minds focused and centered on the most important things that can potentially help us work through our problems or think more effectively.

Research has revealed that the process of doodling is actually incredibly beneficial and can help improve our ability to think, remember, recall and learn information far more quickly and easily. Doodling also helps keep the brain more engaged and interested in what it is learning/doing. For more information, please check out the three doodle studies.

But a doodle is of course only the first phase of something much bigger and better.

Introducing the IQ Doodle

An IQ doodle is the process of turning your thoughts and ideas into structured visual notes, symbols and words on paper. This process helps improve your memory and recall of the information you are listening to or learning. It also allows you to clarify your understanding about circumstances and problems you are working through. And with greater clarity of mind you are able to work through life’s challenges in more efficient and creative ways.

Because of its nature, IQ doodling allows you to present complex ideas quickly, easily and effectively. It helps you focus on the most important and relevant points using a combination of words, pictures, diagrams, graphs and charts.

I of course call this process an “IQ doodle”. However, there are other names for the process. Some people like to call it “visual note-taking”. Mike Rohde calls it “sketchnoting”, and Sunni Brown calls it “infodoodling”.

What we call this process doesn’t really matter. What matters is that this process works and will go a long way towards helping you become a more proficient visual thinker.

Visual thinking

Skills Required for Doodling

Many people wrongly assume that in order to become an effective doodler one must have good hand-eye coordination. This is a false assumption. You don’t need good hand-eye coordination at all because doodling is not about drawing lovely artistic pictures. It’s rather about getting a message across in the most effective and straightforward way possible.

Doodling doesn’t require artistic skills. But it does require a few other things from you. In fact, you will need to unleash several critical skills for doodling. But don’t worry. They aren’t necessarily skills you don’t already have. We all have these innate skills. We must just learn to bring them forth into our doodles.

Simplifying the Complex

In order to become an effective doodler you must have the ability to transform concepts, ideas, thoughts and things into their simplest form. Artists spend time adding a lot of detail to their artwork. They are perfectionists by nature and strive to create something of beauty that takes a lot of time and effort. On the other hand a doodler thinks in the simplest of ways about their doodles. They don’t get lost in the details, but instead focus on turning complex information into easily understandable visual concepts.

Becoming More Perceptive

Effective doodlers are very perceptive of people, objects, and of their environment and surroundings. They need to be perceptive because in order to doodle we need to be able to spot the details, and then of course turn those complexities into simple visual ideas.

With perception comes a curious nature. We are of course all naturally curious. Well, at least we were when we were kids. As kids we ask a plethora of questions because we simply must understand what things are and how they work. And it’s this curiosity that is critical for the modern day doodler.

A doodler must approach every situation from a place of curiosity. They might for instance ask:

  • How does that work?
  • How does this interact with that?
  • How could I break this down into its basic shape?

Being perceptive and being able to spot details not only helps the doodler understand complex things but also helps them visualize these things in the simplest way. And this of course brings us to the next indispensable skill for doodling.

Ability to Recognize Shapes

To doodle effectively one must have the ability to look at one’s environment and easily recognize shapes, lines, angles, shadows, colors and patterns. The doodler then uses these elements to present complex ideas in a simple visual way that’s easily understood and adds to the one’s understanding of the situation.

Ability to Make Connections and Associations

A doodler needs to have the ability to make connections and associations between different concepts and ideas. These connections and associations help them make sense of their world. They bridge together different elements from their environment in order to find answers to problems that otherwise would be very difficult to solve. They then use these discoveries and imagine unique ways of presenting these things in a visual way.

Creative Self-Expression

To doodle is to have a knack for creative self-expression. Now, of course this doesn’t mean you need to become the next Leonardo da Vinci. But what it does mean is that you develop a creative flair for the way you present ideas and express them visually.

Now, of course creative self-expression takes practice. This isn’t something you will develop overnight. However, it is something you can develop over time. Keep in mind that just the act of consistently doodling your thoughts down on paper will instantly stimulate your imagination and expand your capacity for creative self-expression. It’s of course a process that takes a little time, but with a little patience and persistence you will eventually discover your creative knack.

Bringing Thoughts to Life

​​To doodle is to bring your thoughts to life. No longer are your thoughts the domain of the mind. They are now visualized on paper right before you, and as such you are now able to explore them, evaluate them, expand them, modify them and re-imagine them in your own unique way. That in itself is where the true power of the doodle lies.