Do you doodle? Does your boss shoot you nasty looks in meetings, as you fill your page with stars and superheroes instead of notes? If so, this news may be welcome.
Gone now are the stigma of the distracting, time-wasting habit. It may actually give you an advantage by helping you pay attention.
Asked to remember names they’d heard on a recording, people who doodled while listening had better recall than those who didn’t. This suggests that a slightly distracting secondary task may actually improve concentration during the performance of dull tasks that would otherwise cause a mind to wander. Because doodling takes only a small cognitive input, it will not distract to fully from the important task at hand—as daydreaming will, for example—but just enough to allow you to focus more intently.
While listening, half of the test subjects were required to shade in shapes on a piece of paper. Afterward, they remembered one-third more names than test subjects who didn’t doodle while listening.