By Carrie Johnson Weimar • Published: May 7th, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Next time you’re in a meeting and you need to pay attention, take out a sheet of paper and a pen and start doodling. When your boss asks you what you’re doing, you can say you’re improving your concentration.

Sound screwy? Not according to new research from the United Kingdom. Scientists found that people who doodled while listening to a recorded message had nearly a thirty percent better recall of the details than their non-doodling colleagues.

For the experiment, researchers played a recorded listing of people’s names and places. The participants were asked to write down only the names of people who would be attending a party.

During the recording, half the subjects were told to simultaneously shade in shapes on a piece of paper without attention to neatness. They weren’t told they were participating in a memory test.

Afterward, the participants were asked to write down the eight names of the people attending the party, as well as the eight places named in the recording. The doodlers were able to recall about seven point five names and places on average. The non-doodlers only listed five point eight.

Why is this? Researchers believe that if someone is doing a mundane task, they may start to daydream. But a simple task, such as doodling, prevents daydreaming without affecting performance on the task at hand.

So, go ahead… sketch a flower garden or shade in a box during your next staff meeting. It might just help improve your memory.