Drawing Stars

As I grudgingly flip through my notes in my Borges literature class preparing to write my final paper, I laugh to myself about the ridiculous amount of stars, shapes, and sketches that litter the edges of my paper.

I’ve always been a doodler – I particularly like geometric patterns and attempting to draw perfect hexagons and circles. I always figured this was a terrible habit that showed my lack of focus in class. But perhaps not.

Eric Barker points to a recent study:

Doodling is a way of passing the time when bored by a lecture or telephone call. Does it improve or hinder attention to the primary task? To answer this question, 40 participants monitored a monotonous mock telephone message for the names of people coming to a party. Half of the group was randomly assigned to a doodling condition where they shaded printed shapes while listening to the telephone call. The doodling group performed better on the monitoring task and recalled 29% more information on a surprise memory test. Unlike many dual task situations, doodling while working can be beneficial. Future research could test whether doodling aids cognitive performance by reducing daydreaming.

Studies, true or not, that justify seemingly bad behavior are extremely gratifying.

Now if I could only feel as good about procrastinating the writing of my essay…Oh wait.


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