Friday, October 10, 2008

Meeting Planning and Doodles

Recently I was in a day-long training. It was interesting, but anyone who knows me knows meetings are not my favorite thing. It's very difficult for me to sit still for that long and to focus on any one thing. Over the years I've developed what I consider to be socially acceptable things to do while I'm sitting in a meeting. One of those is to doodle.

Used to be that people would look askance at you if you did anything other than stare blankly ahead. But, in the last few years, someone must have written a book about how to conduct meetings because nearly every one I go to these days is done the same way. The tables are covered with paper so you can draw on them. There are also colored markers, candy, name tags, pipe cleaners, and little baby containers of play doh.

I have nothing against any of these things - in fact I quite enjoy them. And I'm thankful whoever decided this was the way to conduct meetings has made it acceptable to be doing something other than just sitting there. What I don't understand is why it's always exactly the same, as if there's just a check list to go through. I suspect it's that everyone is going to the same meetings where they train people to do meetings. Just once I'd like someone to break the mold and do something creative. After all, all of these things are supposed to encourage creativity. Ironic, isn't it?

It's cool to have a big piece of paper on which to draw, but I always take my own paper with me whenever I go to a meeting, as well as a variety of pens and markers. Actually, I have these things with me almost every day at every moment. I need the visual stimulation. I was quite proud of my muted color palette on this one - very unlike me. The fact that there's no neon pink hi-lighter involved is close to a miracle.

I have some favorite motifs I return to again and again. One of them is stars. I love stars. Not sure why, but I do. Given more time I would have filled in the spaces here with more stars of varying sizes. But it was getting hard for me to restrain myself from color so I moved on to playing with the pipe cleaners.

It's rare that someone doesn't comment on the writing or drawing or whatever I'm doing during the meeting. It's not always appreciated, to say the least. I usually just say something to the effect of, "I'm quiet and I'm not being disruptive. Lets just all be thankful for that."

I'm thankful it's accepted these days. I just can't get through a whole day in a room, sitting in one spot, without something else going on. It doesn't matter how fascinating the speaker is, I'm going to need something else going on. At the same time, I really love soaking up the info you get in such meetings. Always something interesting to learn.

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Anonymous said...


I always doodle in meetings, while on the phone, at church. It actually focuses my attention. I listen better if my hands are doing something.

Debra in Seattle

Patsy Terrell said...

Me, too. I think the cool thing is that finally people are realizing not everyone processes information the same way. And some of us really can listen and doodle at the same time. :)

Anonymous said...

I love your doodles - but i came across an article that our doodles may give more indication other than that we are bored - you mentioned you often do stars: " Dr Burns counters that it is only after careful study of doodles over many years and from many different individuals that the patterns of doodle symbolism and their significance emerge. He adds: "Even at their simplest, the idle jottings we repeat in the margins of our notebooks can evoke childhood memories and associations that provide clues even to our obsessions. Stars, for instance, show up all the time in the drawings of emotionally deprived children. Stars are what we wish upon. People who fill their doodles with stars may be longing for something they were deprived of, like love or affection."

Patsy Terrell said...

Fascinating stuff! I've heard that doodles have meaning, but hadn't ever seen what meaning was ascribed to which doodle. I love stars - even have them in my house. I also like to doddle with patterns of lines and squiggles. I used to always doodle this tornado looking thing. I liked the feel of all the spirals in a row. I still do that one sometimes. I also doodle kitty cats a lot. :) I'll have to check out the information you noted. Thanks.