To the untrained observer, it might look like Warren Beinart is distracted.
In work meetings, he scribbles in the margins of documents. At home he doodles on the tops of yogurt containers, CDs, and in one instance, an egg.
"I consider myself an amateur doodle artists," the North Potomac resident said in his home office last week.
But Beinart's doodles are not a way of tuning out, he says. Quite the opposite.
The business analyst says he's been seriously doodling for about two years, and he finds it helps him concentrate on whatever else he's doing.
That may not be as crazy as it sounds. The Washington Post reported on a study in the UK that suggested doodling can improve concentration by up to 29 percent.
And to look at his work, you might not immediately call what he does "doodling."
Intricate, often extremely precise lines, looping and interlacing to create delicate designs. Abstract images or mandala designs—a form of Hindu and Buddhist art in a circle shape—or even celebrities.
He's done a series of late night talk show hosts. Conan O'Brian (identifiable as a doodle by his extravagantly wavy hair) is his favorite.
He even turns out holiday cards that feature various designs.
And, he says, he keeps every doodle he creates.
Still, very rarely does he plan out his designs.
"I draw whatever comes to mind," he said. "Most of the time it's nothing planned. It's just, you've got a pen in your hand and you're concentrating on something else and you'll, you know, draw."
His doodles sometimes come together quickly. Over the span of minutes, in many cases. Others take more time to develop.
He points to one that, like almost all his doodles, started as a simple dot in the middle of the page. His first effort turned out an uneven design with some loops protruding around the edges.
He was unsatisfied with how it was going, so he put the design aside and came back the next day.
When he reexamined the doodle, added a few more lines, all of a sudden he saw where he could take the design. A Chinese dragon.
What resulted was inarguably art—swooping large across the page with a gaping mouth, limbs and scales.
Beinart says doodling is something everyone can do. It's accessible, and you don't need formal training—he has no art training at all.
In an effort to share his work and explore the potential of social media marketing, he created a website called the Doodle Daily, and began a presence on Twitter.
Here he uploads one doodle ever day. So far he's at day 579.
As part of his site, he created the World Doodle Challenge. Inspired by a website that asked readers to submit artwork or renderings of giraffes, One Million Giraffes, Beinart asks his readers to submit their doodles to his site.
The challenge is "to receive doodles from as many different countries and cities around the world," and eventually "unite the world 1 doodle at a time,"—or reach 1 million doodles.
So far he has received just 373 submissions, but they have come from Brazil, Romania, France, the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, Germany, Canada and more, as well as dozens of states across the U.S.
So the next time you're in a boring meeting, or on the phone listening to an in-law blabber on about their new snow blower, pick up a pen and have at it. Maybe you'll pay a little closer attention, or maybe you'll create art.