Sketching During Meetings Improves Focus and Recall
Wired: Good news, doodlers: What your colleagues consider a distracting, time-wasting habit may actually give you a leg up on them by helping you pay attention.
Asked to remember names they’d heard on a recording, people who doodled while listening had better recall than those who didn’t. This suggests that a slightly distracting secondary task may actually improve concentration during the performance of dull tasks that would otherwise cause a mind to wander.
“People may doodle as a strategy to help themselves concentrate,” said study co-author Jackie Andrade, a University of Plymouth psychologist. “We might not be aware that we’re doing it, but it could be a trick that people develop because it helps them from wandering off into a daydream.”
Andrade’s findings, published Thursday in Applied Cognitive Psychology, are an interesting wrinkle on cognitive load theory: The mind has a limited amount of attention to give and, once occupied, stops processing other stimuli.