Have you ever found yourself scribbling something on the corner of your paper while you're on the phone or in a meeting? You just absentmindedly draw a little picture or repetition of shapes or patterns? I know I have! And while some would scold you for not giving your full attention to whatever it is you are supposed to be listening to, they actually shouldn't. In truth, there is real research out there that shows that doodling can help you retain what you are listening to better than if you just sit there. No, seriously... there are scientists who have actually done studies of this! I found a lot of my information from this blog post from Harvard Medical School and from this article in the Wall Street Journal, but you can Google the topic and find many more articles confirming the same thing: doodling is actually beneficial!
Researchers have done tests that have showed that those who doodled while on a phone call could remember details of the call 29% better than those who didn't. Doodling, in fact, helps your brain stay active while you are listening rather than allowing it to shut down or "go to sleep" when you start staring off into space. And that makes sense, doesn't it? I know that when I am tired and try to read a book I can stare at the same paragraph for several minutes and have no idea what I just read because my brain has already gone to sleep. By keeping my body moving, even just by doodling on a scrap piece of paper, my brain is staying active and therefore absorbing information whether I realize it or not.
So before you let anyone give you grief for not paying attention in your meeting because they caught you doodling go ahead and share some of these articles about the benefit of doodling and keep on going!
P.S. Here is one of the many doodles I have done on my desk calendar while on the phone. Festive, no?