Do you doodle during meetings? Are the margins of your notebooks littered with swirly lines, geometric shapes, blocky letters, or cartoon animals? And do you possibly feel guilty about your tendency to doodle? If so, I have good news! Doodling is not a waste of your time and attention. It turns out that doodling helps people to solve problems and process information.

Research suggests that people who doodle retain more information than those who don’t. In a 2009 study, a group of test subjects were asked to listen to a long and monotonous list of names. While they listened, half of the subjects doodled and the other half didn’t. Later, they were given a quiz to see what they remembered. Researchers found that the doodling group was able to remember 29% more names than the non-doodling group.

And that’s not all! Doodling can also help people to release tension, focus, understand new concepts, and generate new ideas.

So go ahead and doodle. And stop feeling guilty about it. It’s not a distraction, as some might think. It may actually help you to become more productive and effective!

Andrade, J. (2009). What does doodling do? Applied Cognitive Psychology, 24, 100-106.

Shellenbarger, S. (2014, July 29). The power of the doodle: Improve your focus and memory. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from