Having trouble paying attention in a meeting? Doodle!

I was driving this morning and heard a very interesting piece on NPR.

You’ve probably heard throughout your life that if someone is doodling on paper during a meeting or a training class, they’re probably bored and completely disengaged. However, new research pretty much debunks that and when you look at the logic behind it, it does make a lot of sense.

Basically, the brain is a machine that’s geared to process information, and since human perception has multiple inputs there’s a lot of information for it to pull from. When the brain doesn’t have enough to keep it busy, it starts looking for other things to do. Generally it has a couple of choices. One is to daydream, which equals total disengagement. The other is something like doodling, which means that it’s in creation mode. When you’re doodling, you’re still using the information that’s coming in, even if you feel like you’re disengaged.

A researcher took this information and created a study where participants had to listen to a long, boring phone message. The researcher then asked people afterwards to see how many pieces of information they could recall. When she broke it down by people who doodled and people who didn’t, the people who doodled were able to remember significantly more.

If you’re interested, go read the article and listen to the webcast. There’s some really interesting information in there about who doodles and how the British press mistook Bill Gates’ doodles for Tony Blair’s and had some really unkind things to say about him.

Bored? Try Doodling to Keep the Brain on Task.

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