Doodles are good for you

April 21, 2020

Do you doodle?

What does the notepad next to your phone look like? Full of scribbles, lines, circles, faces and blobs?

You don’t have a notepad next to your phone? Get one. It is good for you, honestly. Says who? Says the research.

I recently came across “one of those” studies - the ones that get cited everywhere. This one was about doodling: aimless drawing of shapes, without any desire to create something pretty, or concern about artistic ability. Just, well, scribbles.

My notepad is full of scribbles, which is why I intensely dislike the idea of telling my students to “stop doodling”. Why should they?

Unfocused drawing, it turns out, can actually help you to stay focused, and it has even been shown to improve recall.

Not only that, doodling can make you feel less stressed. While you doodle, your unconscious gets some time to process stuff, connect things that happened to your existing memories and ideas about the world and thereby help you to make a bit more sense of what’s going on.

So, if your notepad is a mess: good for you! If your child doodles in school exercise books: get some scrap paper that they can use instead. If a teacher tells your child to stop: have a conversation about whether the doodling really affects their performance – if that’s the case, take it seriously. Nevertheless: Maybe the doodling just helps your child to stay on task, and to be a bit less stressed in a busy classroom.

Use this text for developing your English.

Find other ways to support your English with creative breaks.

doodle figures on a notepad

You think you can't draw? Well, you can certainly doodle!

Language activities

  • Vocabulary: click for solutions
How many words do you know for shapes?

lines, circles, blobs - do you know more? Draw them on some paper: doodling is good for you! Now look up the words in English, or any other language you might be learning.

Which words in the text relate to "paper" and "writing"?

notepad, school exercise books, scrap paper, scribble, drawing, doodling

Which word in the text relates to "memory"?


Which words relate to "attention"?

stay focused, stay on task

  • Writing: Which activities help you to stay focused / process things that happened during the day / handle stress? Use this as a writing prompt.
  • Listening: Doodling may be fun, but you would also like to draw less free-form? Why not have a dedicated creative break, take a free drawing tutorial and improve your listening comprehension at the same time?
  • Reading for advanced and academic learners:

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