Do you like doodling? Well don’t stop – because rather than being a distraction technique, doodling can actually help with focus.
Doodling usually gets a bad press. Doodlers are often viewed as day-dreamers who lack concentration and don’t really have their mind on the job at hand. But research suggests that the opposite is true. In a study at the University of Plymouth, 40 people were asked to listen to a boring voicemail, with half of them told to doodle at the same time. The ones who doodled remembered almost 30% more information than the non-doodlers. How come? Well, the researchers believe that when you’re engaged in a boring task it’s easy to start daydreaming and this distracts you from what you’re doing. Doodling, however, stops you idly daydreaming and so you stay focused.
Get in Focus
Latest research has also found that less focus can actually be more! So for instance, when we engage in an activity that requires our focus and that we want to remember as much detail from as possible, such as a training event or an important meeting with a new client, if we try too hard to stay 100% focused, this would simply exhaust our brain and we’ll probably find that we miss or forget some key points. Instead, our brain operates much more effectively by toggling between focus and unfocus, helping to improve creativity, resilience and make better decisions too. Therefore, by engaging in a task that requires minimal focus (such as doodling, or knitting or heaven-forbid fidget-spinners!) at the same time as the training event or meeting, we are far more likely to remember what we need to because we’ve allowed our brain to work at its optimal level.
President Obama is a self-confessed doodler. And Hillary Clinton was once caught on camera doodling during a United Nations Security Council meeting. According to Sunni Brown, author of The Doodle Revolution, Hillary was ‘harnessing her visual, mental and physical energy… It’s in exactly these moments when information density is very high that makes doodling so important.’
Brown believes that we should all become doodlers. Jotting down weird squiggles and shapes isn’t time-wasting or distracting – instead, it helps our concentration and allows us to better retain information, in turn boosting creativity and productivity.
So, why not grab a pen or pencil and get doodling? And if you’re anything like me, I love looking at my doodles afterwards and trying to decipher what meaning they may have….but that’s a subject for another day!
If you’d like to read more about focus, here’s another blog post you may find interesting!