What do you have in common with Bill Gates, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Ronald Reagan?
Yep, the mundane act of doodling. Bet you’ve done it at one time or another. All three of the above-named luminaries (in the sense of being famous) are known doodlers.
Out of the habit, you say? Then pick it up again. A recent study shows that if you doodle while listening to a boring phone message, you’ll remember 29 percent more of the message if you doodle.
The study was published in “Applied Cognitive Psychology” by psychology professor Jackie Andrade. The test involved playing a lengthy and boring tape of a telephone message to a collection of people. Half the group doodled while listening; the other half didn’t. The doodlers retained some 29 percent more than the non-doodlers.
Oh, and this same principle applies to anything you’re listening to. (I realize you probably have no interest in remembering boring phone messages.)
Intriguing, isn’t it that we should remember more when we doodle. Cause when you’re doodling it looks like you’re not really paying attention.
But the reverse, in fact, is true. Doodling helps you concentrate more. Why?
It all comes down to the reason we doodle: to keep from getting bored. (Even if you’re unconscious of why you actually doodle.)
You see, the brain doesn’t like to be bored. In the book “Brain Rules,” John Medina explains that you don’t pay attention to boring things. The brain needs constant stimulation and activity. (Parents, get that?)
What happens to the brain when it gets bored? Becomes inactive, right? Nope. The brain actually becomes more active, not less. (Parents, get that?)
The brain is a very active organ that uses a lot of energy.
And no, the brain was not designed by malevolent forces that wanted to make life a living hell for parents. It’s simply natural selection at work.
Here’s the scenario: You’re walking in the woods, you’re in familiar terrain, and everything’s hunky-dory. At that point you’re getting minimal mental stimulation.
Let’s say you suddenly trip over a poisonous snake, or bump into a just-out-of-hibernation bear?—and you’re not paying attention cause you’ve hit the snooze button on your brain? What do you think will happen?
Either the snake will slither off in a self-righteous huff (after having injected its venom into you) or you’ll make one bear very, very happy (burp!)—that’s what will happen. Because you weren’t paying attention.
When there’s little mental stimulation the brain is compelled to keep itself engaged with daydreams and fantasies. (Ahhhh, now you understand what’s going on in classrooms and meeting rooms across the nation.)
This is where doodling comes into play. Doodling provides just enough cognitive stimulation to keep your mind from going AWOL.
Oodles of doodles, that’s the way to go!
Oh, if you happen to be a literal minded person who’s wondering how you could be doodling and walking through the woods at the same time, then you must be my best buddy “J” and I asked you to find out why my laptop was acting up, not go snooping into my blog posts.
Honestly. Some people.