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Doodling: An Effective Technique to Increase Concentration or Focus During Boring Lectures and Office Presentation

Updated on June 25, 2020
Arnaba Saha profile image

Arnaba is a doodle enthusiast. Doodling is not just her hobby, it serves as a therapeutic remedy to increase her focus and concentration.

Have you ever been scolded at school because your teacher found you doodling all over your notebook pages? Or has your manager criticized you for scribbling doodles during a boring presentation?

Well, you are not alone (I have been one). Many people like to let their creative juices flow through these random patterns of doodles particularly when they are bored.

In fact, a monotonous lecture or a boring presentation in your office can easily compel you to scribble random words, letters or even lines on a piece of paper. These random scribbling of words, letter or lines is termed as doodles. You don’t have to be Picasso or Leonardo da Vinci to be able to doodle. Doodling is easy- to- draw, it requires a minimum resource (pen and paper) and there are no hard and fast rules to go by. Therefore, anybody can get started with doodling, anytime and anywhere.

Though mislabeling it as a useless habit and reprimanding you for doing that is a very common practice all around the world. The primary reason being the fact that people think doodling is an act of distraction. People believe that you doodle when you are distracted or you doodle to distract yourself from other important things.

On the contrary, a recent study has found out that doodling helps to increase your focus and concentration exponentially.

About the Study

A study published in 2009 suggests that people who engage in doodling while trying to focus on a boring or monotonous primary task retain 29% more information than others.

The study was conducted on 40 participants who were asked to listen to a mock telephone recording. This recording was boring and monotonous by design.

Half of the participants had to doodle (shading in shapes) while listening to the recording. Later a surprise memory test was conducted on all the 40 participants where they had to recall information from the recording.

The results of the study suggest that people who were doodling while listening to the recording were able to recall 29% more information than the other group.

The researchers are yet to find any definitive reason behind this phenomenon.

However, it can be deduced that doodling can help you stay more focused while your mind is at higher risk to wander off or go blank.

A study suggests, Doodling can increase your retention value by 29%.

Doodling help you Stay Alert

When you are bored, your brain starts to find ways to be engaged in other physical activities that help you stay alert. Fidgeting and playing with pen/pencil are some habitual physical activities that people resort to when they try to avoid a mind wandering session. Similarly, doodling allows your brain to engage in an activity that keeps you from blankly staring at the wall or worse, fall asleep.

Doodling allows you to stay connected to your primary task a little longer despite you being bored.

Random Doodling and its Retention Value

Doodling in recent times has emerged as an art form. Social media platforms are full of creative people flaunting their intricate doodle arts and patterns. Some people are even making a living out of their talent and art.

However, these specific and intricate doodling techniques are not what you need when you want to increase your focus. On the contrary, random and unthoughtful doodles are the ones that will help you stay alert and focus on the boring lecture you are listening to. If you concentrate too much on the complications of your patterns, then you will lose your focus from your primary objective (boring lecture).

Doodling random words, patterns, or lines engages the right amount of your concentration that allows you to navigate your main focus to the primary objective.

Sometimes doodling words on a notepad that you pick from the lecture or office presentation, helps to increase your retention value. Picking up words or specific jargons to doodle from your lecture helps you recall it later when required.

Names, locations, projects, financial numbers, keywords, or jargon are some of the examples of doodling ideas or inspirations that can help you recall more information from the lecture/ presentation.

Personal Experience with Doodling

When I was in high school, the margins of my notebooks or even my textbooks were full of random doodles. Back then I was scolded by my teachers and I was instructed to stop doodling during the class sessions.

Eventually, I did what i was asked to do.

I had no idea about the benefits of doodling back then or that these benefits have any scientific grounds. Yet, I remember, I used to recall the bulk of my lectures in my examinations when I had doodled.

Mostly, I used to associate the patterns with the subject of the lectures. At times, I would remember something the teacher said a few weeks ago during my exam because I was doodling a certain pattern during that lecture. Remembering the pattern would help me recall particular points from the lecture and vice versa.

This association of the lecture with the patterns left a long-lasting impression on my memory and helped me retain information for a longer

Have you ever been caught and/or scolded for doodling during school/ college lectures or office meetings?

See results


There is no hard and fast for doodling. It is even hard to tell the scientific reasoning behind doodles increases your focus and concentration. However, it can be easily concluded that doodling helps you retain more information than others, particularly when you are bored.

The free flow of thoughts needs a direction to stay in a constructive path and doodles help you find that path.

With random doodles, you can stay alert and focus more on what matters to you.

So, next time you are bored during a lecture or a meeting try out this method of doodling to be able to focus and concentrate more on what is being discussed in your lecture and meeting.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Arnaba Saha


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