When you are in a meeting have you ever noticed someone doodling on a piece of paper? What is the first thing that comes to your mind? Do they look bored? At first it might appear that way, but what you might not realize is they are probably a lot more focused than you. Doodling, you see, is not a distraction, not so much mindless as it is mindful. In fact, those who are doodling in the meeting will most likely remember what has been said by as much as 29% over those who do not. At least according to a study by Jackie Andrade, psychology professor at Plymouth University, doodling aids concentration.
And it does not stop there. Doodling is so much more. It is a physical manifestation of active thinking. And in addition to the benefits of focus, the doodling also improves one’s comprehension and relieves stress. Let’s take a look how:
Focus: Sunni Brown, author of The Doodle Revolution: Unlock the Power to Think Differently, writing for Bookish, poses “for many of us, sustained focus and concentration have become increasingly rare, with the productive, psychological, creative, and emotional consequences not looking pretty. Doodling is one of the easiest, most accessible, least intimidating, most relaxing ways of being present, as it slows the mind and allows it to breathe. Our brains need space and quiet to regenerate and integrate new knowledge.”
Comprehension: Writing for the digital marketing agency Brolik, Jessica Warhus writes that “doodling, however, is an activity in which your brain expends just enough energy to keep it from daydreaming, but not enough to lose focus.” Warhus cites Microsoft founder Bill Gates as a prolific doodler who has been known to scribble some during meetings.
Stress relief: In an article for The Atlantic by Steven Heller, one can develop concepts through doodles. Interviewing Brown, “doodling actually changes one’s state of mind. It’s a calming activity that can help people go from a frazzled state to a more focused one.” As she told Heller, “You can use doodling as a tool ... to change your physical and neurological experience, in that moment.” And Brown is not alone.
According to Srini Pillay, MD, author of Tinker Dabble Doodle Try, doodling relieves psychological stress by “making it easier to attend to things.” Writing for Harvard Health Blog for Harvard Medical School and citing an article in The Lancet, “doodling is a motor act, and when occurring under conditions such as impatience, boredom, and indecision, it seems to alleviate those conditions.”
So next time you want to focus, remember or relieve stress, pick up a pen and piece of paper and get to doodling. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.