DoodleTo doodle is to draw shapes and lines on a piece of paper for no particular purpose.  Students in class will often doodle on their notebooks and papers while the teacher is talking, perhaps because they are bored or uninterested.   I didn’t often doodle in school, but I have been doodling while talking to someone on the phone for many, many years.

Interestingly, my doodles are almost always exactly the same.  I draw a house, then the ground beneath the house, then a sidewalk leading up to the house.  Sometimes I’ll also draw a tree next to the house.  These images – house, tree, sidewalk – are actually very common drawings that children make, which is probably when I first started doing them.  (It could also be possible that I have the mind of a child, which many have told me!)

I doodle two other things when talking on the phone or listening to a voice mail message.  First, I always add a radio antenna on top of the house.  This is probably because, since the age of 11, I have been an amateur radio operator.  (Amateur radio – sometimes called ham radio – is a service that allows you to talk to other people in different states and countries by using radio waves.)  The second thing I doodle (sometimes even without the house) is a series of triangles that form a small box or rectangle.  I have no idea why I do that.

Are these doodles a distraction – that is, do they make you listen less carefully?  It appears that they don’t.  In fact, doodling appears to help you remember things while you doodle!  A study in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology found that people who were asked to doodle while listening to a voicemail message remembered more of the message than those who did not doodle.  One theory is that doodling provides just enough stimulation (activity that produces a response) to prevent people from being too distracted.

Some people even claim that their doodles help them remember things that happened many months or even years ago.  This would not work for me, however, since I am not very creative and all my doodles are the same.


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24 Responses to Doodling

  1. peter says:

    Dear Jeff,

    If you have a mind of child ,that child is a genious. Besides,There is a child ,lives inside every man.
    Dont beat yourself up ;it is not a frivolous thing to do. In fact ,it is a kind of wide spread ,racial free habit,every body does it .whenever I am on the phone ,the minute a note pad and a pen catches my eyes I knock myself out. typicaly ,I doodle eyes,ears or something to that effect. .intrestingly enough ,I do it intutively without even realizing it. So ,It could not have anything to do with enhancing or sharpening the memory since we go for it subconciously for the most part.

  2. peter says:

    the mind of a child

  3. peter says:

    racial free habit.Everybody does it.

  4. Nina says:

    Thanks Jeff to show us your private doodles. I don’t know why but instantly I felt that I like this word. It sounds funny in my ears. I also like the idea that you always have your mind of child in spite of your intelligence. Your doodle shows that you like life and you always will go higher and I think that you are an optimist. All you draw go up to the sky. I never did it, but I always like watching people doodling.

  5. elcomandant says:

    Hi there.
    When I was reading the doodle of house Jeff made, I was imagining the house what I doodled when I was child. In fact is very similar to the picture it is in the top of this topic. However I also drew some birds and a river under a bridge.

    If the teacher’s explanation lasted enough time then I completed the doodle with some mountains and a fisherman in the river. Bisides, if the teacher got drunk with your explanation and made it longer then I had time enough to finish my doodle. Then I drew some horses on the mountains and some clouds even the sun shining on the sky.

    Once, I gave to a child that I liked very much my picture as a present. Sice then, she never talked to me again. I didn’t know why she did that to me, however, as time as goes by I understood why she did it.

    This child is now a fifty-five years old woman. She has had success in your life. Nowadays she is a beautiful woman, married with a handsome rich man, has one son and one daughter that love her, has a nice dog Golden Retriever, all of them live in a big house with a convertible red Mercedes in the garage, and finally she has exposed your very appreciated and expensive “pictures” around the world. This is a no real story but it was able to be true.

    See you.

  6. pedro says:

    Well guys,I have to tell you that I’m kind of relieved to know that I’m not the only person on the face of the earth who doodle whenever I’m talking to someone on the phone.I usually do strange lines,circles,letters and numbers that don’t mean anything,do they?
    Anyway,I think that Jeff usually draws a house because is the most common draw (I mean,all of us have been drawing little houses with little trees and with mountains in the background ever since we were shrimps,haven’t we?),and not because he has the mind of a child,even though I don’t rule out that possibility.(I don’t know him personally but a little bird told me that although he has a somewhat strange sense of humour,he is not self-centered,selfish and bossy as kids usually are).Or perhaps he just likes to write ,and doodles as he’s waiting on the phone to jot something down ,because he has a pen in his hand at that momment and can’t think of anything better to do with it,just like me.I don’t know his reasons guys,the world is very complicated,I mean,a lot of questions for very few answers…

  7. Peter says:

    Agein, silly mistakes

    Race free I don’t know why on earth I put racial free. My instict says race free;race free it is. like my nose that is smell free

    Dear Jeff

    I dont know what you take me for with all these silly mistakes,very loust student perhaps.

    need to stay focused

    However,we are meant to make mistakes .you know we are wired that way

  8. emiliano says:

    I like the word too and I didn´t know its meaning till know, thank you Jeff, your doodles are quite nice and easy to figure out
    what they look like.
    Mine are so complicated that I didn’t know ever what they coud meant as they are abstract, without a known figure, and usually
    different one from the others.
    Doodling has been one of my recurrent customs along the years and I think it depens of my spirit situation. If I am nervous I am
    doodling (love this word) all the time and it soften my character quite a lot.
    As a matter of fact doodling has been just as a medicine to me all the time.

    At the last some of my doodles has inspired me to draw bigger ones in a picture, but its means really nothing.
    No house, no dog, no river…, nothing, all are abstract but on the pictures with colours.

  9. reza says:

    Hi Jeff
    This is an interesting topic. I often doodle while I talk to someone on the phone. Almost every of my doodles are related to topics that I talk about.
    I used to collect my doodles when I was a kid but now I just doodle.

  10. Sara says:

    very interesting topic. I doodle a lot, specially in the class, on the phone or just when I am thinking. I always thought is just me doing this, I didn’t know there is even article about it. my doodle usually turning out to the wired girl, trees or girl face. I don’t know why.
    Thanks for the sharing!

  11. Miriam says:

    Hallo everyone!

    I don’t doddle! It’s that wrong?
    I don’t like draw. Maybe a trauma at the childhood.


  12. adalla says:

    The triangles in your drawing remember me like a mountain in the distance… maybe you would like to go hiking.
    I also doddle while I am in the phone, most of the time it happens when I’m talking with my mother, but my drawings don’t have any sense really. In my case I think it is because I’m boring.

  13. Parina says:

    Dear Jeff,

    It is really interesting that you have pinpointed this personal habit of yours. In fact it seems to be commonplace among almost all of us. Now that I think about it, I see that I was a doodler in class. Of course not all my classes but the ones that I felt bored by the everlasting lecture of some teachers. Talking on the phone, in case a papaer and a pen are available I will doodle, otherwise I prefer walking. I wish I could also doodle while talking to someone. But I think it may sound impolite. Concerning the shape of my doodles, they are nonsense most of the time. They appear to be the drawings of a ten-year old child. May be I have the mind of a child as well. However, they sometimes refer to the topic of the dicscussion. Thank u Jeff for sharing this with us.


  14. Paulo Lopes - Brasil says:

    Hi, someone.

    I don’t know to tell anyone without doodle. can be houses, abstract, tree and others, but I feel myself quite calm whenever I doodle. Maybe only habit or things of childhood.

    thank you Jaff
    apologize my mistakes.

  15. peter says:

    Today,On the lunch break, I zipped in a nearby ,bustling coffe house to grab a cup of joe. waiting for my turn in line , I started skimmig through a large selection of sweets and poistery that one of the name tags caugh my attention. The name of the sweet was doodler bar . Need less to say that the name piqued my intrest. So, I got one of the guys , and It was very scrumptious. This time my friend, your students were not the only ones who take something home from the educational posting of yours.

  16. Peter says:

    At the lunch break.

  17. Peter says:

    your students are not the only ones

    Sorry for all the Grammar and spelling mistakes

  18. qijun says:

    to doodle is a activity of escape real life ,also is good way to use your free time

  19. Bakhtiar says:

    it rings a bell ,i am doing doodle when i listen to my favorite artist, like yanni and eagls

  20. Bakhtiar says:

    iam doodling i meant,actually

  21. tania says:

    Me , too . I have been doodling while talking to someone , not very important person or subject , on the phone .
    Or at a meeting when I do not agree with the topic or the tasks received . I draw all kind of lines , I am free , I feel a light detachment …

    All the best for you all ,


  22. peter says:

    My friend ,

    Why did you put “Doodling in school.” I always use at school . I dont know the reason why you use in school.,but from now on I will go by you. you utilize in school , in school it is ,although I don’t knoe the underlying reason for it.

    You know what,whatever you and lucy say and write ,I tak it as gospel truth.put he for she today ,and I follow suit tomorrow.

  23. Why do some students doodle? It is possible that by preventing students to doodle, you are doing a lot of harm to their ability to focus learning. Some gifted students whose brains are generally already in a higher speed than the rest of the class, probably find themselves in this doodling state because they are deprived of any real cognitive challenge while the teacher is explaining some lesson point.

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