Sunday, March 15, 2009

Doodling helps you keep your... look -- a birdie!

Do you doodle?

Back in the days when I used a pen more than a keyboard, I doodled all the time. I used to make Styrofoam coffee cups into little works of art while listening to boring deposition testimony.

Back in our law school days, a friend and I would design Rube Goldberg-type devices for torturing our Administrative Law professor. Nowadays, were someone to make those notes, he'd probably be reported to the police. Maybe even arrested. At the time, though, it seemed a fairly harmless way for us to release our frustration at how b...o...r...i...n...g that class was.

I had birds and dogs and alligators and aliens and people and geometric designs all over my notes from the time I started taking notes until... well, I don't hardly take notes anymore.

But maybe I should. Or at least, I should keep doodling. That's the gist of an article that appeared recently on HealthDay: "Researchers in the United Kingdom found that test subjects who doodled while listening to a recorded message had a 29 percent better recall of the message's details than those who didn't doodle. The findings were published in Applied Cognitive Psychology."

It seems that persons engaged in listening to something boring -- an uninspired teacher, a witness being grilled on the finer points of the fine print in a fine old contract -- begin to daydream -- to woolgather -- losing focus on the task at hand. What they hear passes right through their head (in my case you can sometimes hear the whistling as it goes). Surprisingly, however, the person who engages in some "simple task," like doodling, according to study researcher Professor Jackie Andrade, of the School of Psychology at the University of Plymouth, does not lose focus and better retains what he or she hears.

I'm going to have to take up doodling again. Playing Solitaire (or, especially Spider Solitaire) on the computer while listening to boring telephone conversations has not helped me keep my focus. Maybe these are not simple enough tasks for a simpleton like me.


Rob said...

I was never a fast note-taker and sometimes struggled to keep up with college professors. But just the same, I've long insisted that note-taking by hand is far more conducive to learning than typing notes into a computer. I wonder if this notion kinda supports that theory...

I do doodle (or maybe more accurately, you'd call it scribbling) when I'm on hold or during teleconferences and such. I have an intense desire to be artistic, but come up short a bit on skill when it comes to drawing.

Maybe you could grace us with one of your elaborate Rube Goldberg-esqe doodlings if any of those old notebooks still exist...

Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

you know curmie, this is right! i never much thought about it before but it is very true... i find myself "woolgathering" all the time too!

smiles, bee

Ellee Seymour said...

I used to do loads of doodling, but actually haven't done so for ages thanks to all my computer work. I had never given this any thought before, but that must be the reason why.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

One thing I wasn't that good at doing was doodling.

sari said...

I love to doodle. I think I'm going to go doodle right now.