By Carolyn Ellis, Visual Coach and Founder of

Is doodling a sign of an idle or distracted mind or a key to creativity and breakthrough thinking?

Many folks doodled as children, but as we grew up a lot of us lost that willingness to scribble and draw. When we grew up and left doodling and markers behind us, I believe we lost a powerful tool that actually helps make sense of the world around us.

Let’s look at the reality most of us face 24/7. Information overload is creating stress and overwhelm that threatens our ability to think and innovate, let alone remember what we learned. Yet the complexities and challenges of our world demand creativity and fresh perspectives.

Far from being a sign of inattention or distraction, brain science is showing us more each day about the power of visual thinking. At least 65%, if not more, of the population are visual learners. Unfortunately most of our information is not communicated in that way. Think back to if you’ve ever seen people sit down with anticipation and wonder to take in their next power point presentation or minutes of the last Board meeting and you’ll see that text-heavy information causes most folks to start to tune out.

As an avowed Doodle evangelist, I’m spreading the word because of its power to access creativity and decision-making. Plus doodling is just a whole lot of fun to do! As I’ve been sharing doodled notes and images in my community and on social media, doodling has sparked a deep interest and desire among many.

I have had a LOT of people telling me how much they enjoy the doodles and sketches, and then they ask me “Can I learn how to do that?”

The answer is YES, you can! Even if you don’t know how to draw. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be particularly “artistic.” Just ask my Grade 7 art teacher and he will confirm that I had no apparent talent for drawing whatsoever.

Creating visual notes, or “Doodled Notes” as I call them, is actually NOT about artistry. It’s about making information meaningful and joyful to you. It’s about having a whole lot of fun in the process so you can think straight, make decisions more easily and actually remember what the heck it was you were learning in the first place!

Whether you’re a student officially enrolled in an institution of learning, or a life-long learner like myself perpetually enrolled in the School of Life,doodling opens up a whole new way to learn, make connections and find new solutions.

Children doodle their ideas and desires out naturally. We lose that ability as adults,as we allow left-brain dominance to guide our professions and our decision-making abilities. But with some basic skills, truly anyone can learn to doodle – and use doodling to learn and lead their lives, organizations and businesses in a profoundly powerful and engaged way.

Here are 3 tips to help you start your doodles!

1. Prepare Yourself Before You Doodle

Not having enough information isn’t the challenge. Having the discernment to decide what you want to know and the confidence to be selective in how you learn is key. Before you attend any kind of learning or read a new book, reflect first on what’s most important for you to receive from your next course, book or training.

2. Keep it Simple

Doodling is a very creative process. Doodles express the unique preferences and style of the individual. Yet there are certain basic elements that underline any visual capture of information that greatly simplifies the doodling process. I teach my doodling students about the essential elements such as typography, structure,effective use of color and basic visual icons to convey ideas and concepts easily.

3. Play in Different Ways

One great thing about doodling is it is very versatile! The only limit to how you can use them is your imagination. Watching a great TED talk on your computer? You can do a Doodle Note and use it to spark a great, juicy conversation on the topic. Researching your trip to Europe? You can Doodle Note your options and ideas. Learning a new hobby?You can Doodle Note what you’re learning to help integrate it and map out your next steps.

Doodling is naturally fun and playful. It invites a deeper engagement in one’s learning.Your emotions get sparked up in the process, so doodling dissipates information overload and opens up new insights and creativity all at the same time.

Want to learn more? The next “Learn to Doodle” workshop is happening in Toronto, on October 29. Seats are limited, so to reserve your seat visit

Author's Bio: 

Carolyn Ellis is the founder of and is a visual facilitator, award-winning coach and author. She is delighted to be able to combine her deep intuitive abilities with her Harvard-trained brain and a life-long love of colorful markers.

Carolyn specializes in helping decision-makers, organizers, speakers, trainers, event organizers and businesses stand out and deliver unique and powerful experiences to their clients and stakeholders through captivating info doodles, sketch notes and large-scale visual murals.

Carolyn is a member of the International Forum of Visual Practitioners. She is based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. To learn more visit