We’ve all been guilty of doodling during class or an important meeting, but it turns out that spending time making seemingly pointless drawings is not that pointless after all. Doodling can do a number of positive things for your brain that may actually help improve your performance in that meeting or during that test.
Here are three scientifically-backed reasons that doodling can be good for you:
1. It Helps You Stay Engaged
It seems like the opposite would be true: Doodling would make you more distracted, right? Wrong. A 2011 study found that students who drew what they learned during a lecture ended up retaining more information later on. Not only that, they reported feeling more engaged with the material and enjoying what they learned. Doodling can put you in a meditative-like state that keeps you focused and present.
2. It Improves Your Memory
If you’re more focused, you’ll definitely reap the benefits later. In one study from The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, subjects were presented with a list of words. One group was asked to draw as many of the words as they could in 40 seconds. The other was asked to write them out. The group that drew the words remembered twice as many as the group that simply wrote them.
3. It Makes You Happier
How could scribbling your heart out not make you happy? As long as you’re creating positive imagery, you’ll see an improvement in your mood, according to research from the journal Motivation and Emotion. Go ahead and fill your pages up with smiley faces and hearts galore—or whatever images make you feel happy—and chances are your mood will lift.
Given what we’ve learned in recent years about the benefits of coloring (and hence the rise of adult coloring books on the market), it makes sense that putting pen to paper for some free-form doodling is good for us, too.