Have you ever caught yourself doodling in a long meeting or in a lecture? The act of doodling is commonly associated with the dawdler and the distracted, however, fear not, recent research seems to disprove these tags. There are in fact a number of psychological and mental benefits that can be gained from allowing your pen to roam free on the page from time to time – it’s linked to improved focus and a greater retention of information.
Read on to discover more about the awesome benefits doodling can offer.
Doodling has been scientifically proven to improve the retention of information as well as focus and concentration on the task at hand. Psychologist Jackie Andrade explored this topic in a study back in 2009. Andrade asked 40 participants to listen to an intentionally rambly voicemail – during the listening session, half of the participants doodled whilst the other half did not. All were unaware of a memory test succeeding the listening sessions from which the doodlers emerged triumphant recalling 29% more information than the non-doodlers. Check out the full study here.
Doodling has also been linked to concentration thanks to Andrade’s study which went on to explore the relationship between listening and the act of doodling. The study found that doodling fires up the brain’s ‘executive resources’ which is a term to define cognitive processes that allow us to multi-task, concentrate and plan. In other words, doodling keeps our minds grounded in these long meetings or classes instead of running astray to daydream about our next holiday.
As the act of doodling can be carried out at a somewhat ‘thoughtless’ and random level – a doodle can be a great way to tap into the unconscious mind. Dr Robert Burns (who led the Institute for Human Development at the University of Seattle) gets his patients to doodle as a way to access and diagnose their emotional issues. In the same spirit of this, doodling can be used to glue together the constant narrative we run in our minds to make sense of our lives – this means doodling can help realign purpose and therefore focus if we’re feeling particularly lost or aimless, thus reducing stress.
Engaging the doodler inside can be an excellent way to fire up creativity. When you get yourself in a rut on a piece of work or project, doodling can be an excellent way to activate your creative mind and fuel your escape. Doodling is enjoyable and can therefore open up creativity by way of the positive response we feel when engaging in the activity – it allows you to return to tasks with a fresh perspective.
So, there you have it. The next time you get accused of slacking when you’re mid-doodle you have these awesome benefits to counteract their argument – and, hopefully some ground to recruit some new doodlers along the way! Check out this TedTalk below from Sunni Brown who breaks down how doodling can improve our comprehension and creativity.