Have you ever found yourself doodling in the margins of your meeting notes? Or perhaps mindlessly scribbling as you try to work out a puzzling bit of code? If so, you're in good company, including as many as half of all U.S. presidents.
But as common as this habit is even among some of the world's most powerful leaders, few realize that doodling is more than a sign of distraction or a childish hobby. On the contrary, research suggests that those scribbles could be hugely beneficial to the brain.
Doodling For Focus and Productivity
Research on the cognitive effects of doodling has had startling results. In a 2009 study, participants who were required to color in squares while listening to a long phone call recalled an impressive 29% more information over those who were not given a doodling task.
These results line up with what many chronic doodlers report about their experiences. Anecdotally, many doodlers claim that taking breaks to doodle helps them return to work with a clearer mind or improved creativity. Others doodle exclusively while multitasking and find that it helps them focus or learn via a different medium. And for some, sketching is strongly associated with stress relief.
Why is Doodling Beneficial?
The truth is, scientists aren't entirely sure why doodling seems to have cognitive benefits. One theory suggests that doodling keeps your brain alert during what might otherwise be a monotonous task. By engaging in a motor task, you are maintaining activity in the brain that ultimately improves your attention. Others think the reason may be as simple as the fact that doodling stops you from daydreaming or otherwise spacing out. The creativity and stress-relief may stem from the opposite principle of giving your brain respite from prolonged work.
At HireVibe, we don't shy away from unconventional work habits, so long as they make you feel more fulfilled and productive. So the next time you find yourself decorating your notes at work, don't chastise yourself or put down the pen. Chances are, you're giving your brain exactly what it needs to stay on task.