I am a doodler when I’m in meetings or other situations where I will probably take notes. (I take notes a lot.) I find doodling helps me pay attention/concentrate. I create borders on the page, sketch my cast of voluptuous and thin stick figures, and/or draw faces with expressions to match my feelings. Sometimes I play tic-tac-toe – but that doesn’t work too well because I always win. Meanwhile, I take copious notes, putting as asterisk (*) by anything I need to follow up on. I usually have a page deeper down in my notepad, where I make a list of things to do as they come to me, or start a note to someone, or jot down a bit of dialogue for a story (dialogue and story ideas always come to me when I’m in a large meeting. I guess my muse likes meetings).
My doodling is not always well-received. Some people have assumed that I wasn’t paying attention (until I told them what they just said and proved that I was – even when I’m half-listening I’m fairly facile). Other times a person has asked if I’d recorded what they said verbatim. (I hadn’t, I assured her.)
I’m amazed that people can be in a meeting and not write anything down, even when they’ve been given an assignment. How can anyone sit in a long staff meeting and pay full attention, eyes straight ahead to the speaker, the entire time? It’s beyond me because I can’t do it! I have to have pen and paper to free my mind from the constraints of meetings. (This is why meetings I run always have an agenda and tend to be short and efficient. There’s just no need to drag them out.)
I once worked at a place that had a Friday afternoon staff meeting. I know that the manager did it because she didn’t have an out-of-work life and wanted to punish those of us who did. I doodled over-time when I worked there. I used to make up elaborate boxes with my commentary about the meeting and people in them, until someone read over my shoulder once and I started using note hand and other codes:
- brng – for boring
- d&d – for dumb and dumber
- ahle – for asshole
Wait a minute, can’t share too many or you’ll know the code – doodle, doodle,doodle, doodle.