Why Doodling is great for everyone – Not Just Creatives

You probably don’t doodle intentionally. But somehow, whenever you find yourself with a writing instrument in hand any whitespace in you notebook seems to fill up with squiggles.

But while many of us consider our doodling to be a distraction, it may be just the opposite. According to research, free-form scribbling can actually help you concentrate and retain information, especially during less engaging tasks.

Humans are, in general, bad at multitasking. Studies have shown that performance suffers significantly when people try to polish off several tasks at once. Doodling, however, is about the only thing our brains can take on when we’re already doing something else. It’s mindless enough not to cause “cognitive overload,” but just stimulating enough to prevent spacing out entirely.


In fact, the minimal attention required for doodling appears to boost focus and memory. According to a 2009 study in Applied Cognitive Psychology, 40 people listened to a recording of names and places and then wrote down what they remembered. Researchers told half of the participants to doodle during the recording, and those participants recalled almost 30% more information than the non-doodlers.

Some experts have recommended doodling as a learning aid. Students can try doodling about a lecture topic as a way to visualize the material. Pedagogical research has consistently shown that presenting information in several ways enhances comprehension. And writing down information is a well-proven method to enhance retention. So draw what you hear, and you’ll learn it better.

That covers educational scenarios, but what about in the real world? Should doodling be encouraged in meetings to keep all parties engaged? Or more poignantly to us, does doodling aid or promote creativity in a computer heavy environment? When asked, here at Hughes more than 50% of us consider ourselves to be prolific doodlers!

In Practise

We firmly believe that engaging your inner doodler can be an excellent way to fire up your creativity, be it proactively or reactively. When you get yourself stuck in a rut over a piece of work, there is nothing worse than feeling trapped, so use doodling to 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 us 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!

It is also worth noting, a number of accomplished peoplehave come out as avid doodlers, including Hillary Clinton — that infamous scatterbrain — and she’s managed to get a few things done. So the next time you catch yourself doodling and think “I should really pay attention”, don’t worry — you already are.