A Stupid Habit: Doodling

Why Doodling is Actually the Worst Habit

Doodling ka shauk hai? … Kya fazool baat ki hai yar :/

Why, you ask is Doodling so bad? Doodling can be used to communicate, to reason, to engage, and to learn. You can therefore use your doodles to clarify your ideas for your colleagues or clients, to help guide them and engage them through your reasoning for a design or idea, as well as to help yourself learn new techniques and to discover new ideas. Though doodling is not exactly a hotbed of neuroscientific and psychological research, a few groups around the world have started looking at how doodling can help improve your cognitive performance on tasks such as memory retention, listening, creativity, and emotional expression. So next time you find yourself doodling away, don’t stop and think you should be doing something useful: you are.

Everyone can doodle. That’s a fact.

Here are a few more reasons why Doodling is so bad:

It stops your brain from slipping into its default state

You can think of your brain as treading a fine line between arousal and inactivity. Ideally, there is plenty to keep your brain occupied. When we are paying attention, the brain makes sure that our eyes are focused in a certain direction and that the visual information coming in is routed to the right places. But what about when we are not paying attention (-which is the case most of the time)?

When your brain has nothing to do, current research suggests that it goes into a default mode, enabling certain circuits that let it sit and wait for the next task without using up too much energy. The default mode network is what is active when you are daydreaming, or when you are replaying memories in your head (and imagining cute situations never to be –sigh).

It is just a matter of keeping your brain engaged (with haram and/or halal visuals 🙂 )

It is obviously good for the brain to have this default state, a sort of go-to to save energy when it doesn’t have to be doing anything else, but as we all know, sometimes we can be daydreaming away when we should really be paying attention (wink wink).

It can improve your memory

Anyone who cherishes creativity knows that daydreaming gets a bad rep. It is when your brain is in this default mode that a lot of connections between abstract and disparate thoughts, emotions, and memories can be made. But sometimes instead of daydreaming, what you need is for your brain to disengage but to still be paying attention to outside stimuli. That is where doodling might not come in handy.

It seems that doodling helps people concentrate and listen when the subjects can get rather boring (#tb to History and Geography classes). So don’t feel bad about doodling away if you are listening to something dull; you might actually be helping yourself to concentrate rather than allowing your brain to reset itself to its default state and filling your head with dreams. Feel free to draw whatever comes to your mind. You might find that these doodles help you to remember what was said later (hopefully).

Doodle your heart out.

It can make you more creative

Doodling is more than just a way to stop yourself from daydreaming and keeping your brain from falling asleep though. The act of drawing is creative in it and can help you come up with ideas to solve whatever problems you might be stuck on.

When most of us think of doodles, we think of spirals, circles and abstract shapes that we draw. Some people avoid doodling because they think it requires drawing skills. They think that there is some merit in doodling proper sketches, but that doodling abstractedly is pointless.

If you are good at drawing then great, but just because you cannot draw the faces of your lecturers accurately does not mean you should avoid doodling.

Doodling can also help with the negative aspects of creativity. Whenever you are frustrated, anxious, or depressed, it can be difficult to convey those feelings in words. But an image might come to mind that describes your feelings. If you find yourself wound up and unable to find the right words, consider sketching out how you feel instead. Even if it is a heavy-penciled scribble, people will at least know how you feel.

But sometimes it can get in the way

But what happens when you are supposed to be paying attention to something visually and you are doodling? If the task you are supposed to be concentrating on is visual then doodling might not be the best thing to be doing. A 2012 study from the University of British Columbia asked participants to watch a set of images and then recall them from a list afterward. One group just had to concentrate on the images, while a second group was asked to doodle at the same time. The doodlers had a much harder time recalling which images were shown than the non-doodlers.

In this case, you can see why that might be. Both doodling and watching images require the same sense – vision. When you are listening to something monotonous, doodling might be enough to keep your brain awake and help you remember information, but multitasking using the same modality, vision, is too much for your brain to handle, and it has to prioritize one over the other.

The Best Art Work is created after a Doodle as a draft.


So, basically, doodle. Except when you’re supposed to be watching something else. Otherwise, there are almost no downsides to a bit of doodling, apart from a lecturer/co-worker/spouse complaining that you are not listening (if so, just send them to this article 😉 ).

Whenever you think you might be drifting away, or whenever you have a problem. Don’t worry if you cannot draw, and don’t worry about what will actually come out onto the paper – unless you are a president, in which case your doodles of genitalia might be kept for prosperity.

Just doodle.


Doodling is the Brooding of the Hand ~ Saul Steinberg

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