Improve Memory With Mindful Drawing

Drawing to improve memory

One of my favorite things to do is to listen to a podcast or an audiobook while drawing. It keeps my mind humming along in its happy place while activating just the right balance of listening, learning new information, and doing mild physical activity.

There are a few exceptions. If the material I’m listening to is too intense and I need to take notes, I’ll put the drawing aside. Also, if I’m struggling with my drawing, I find that I need to turn the music, podcast, or audiobook off for a while to give my brain some extra space to solve some visual problems.

But when I find just the right balance of a drawing activity that doesn’t require a lot of thought and something to listen to that is relaxing and enjoyable, I’m in heaven.

What is it about this combination that feels so good and helps you remember what you’ve learned?

Drawing is a powerful tool to improve memory retention. It helps to keep the mind active and engaged, allowing us to store and recall information more effectively. In this article, we will explore the many benefits of drawing and how it can help with memory retention. We will also look at some drawing techniques and tips that can help improve our ability to retain what we’ve learned.

How Drawing Helps Improve Memory

Using Drawing to Combat a Wandering Mind

Daydreaming is a common problem when it comes to studying and learning. It can be difficult to stay focused and engaged when there is a lot of material to take in. Drawing can be a great way to combat daydreaming, as it helps to keep our minds active and engaged.

Drawing also helps keep our brains on standby so we can sort the new information and form new memories. This standby mode is a place of focus where we can better take in and process information.

By drawing, we can maintain this standby mode longer without slipping into a default mode state where we are likely to start to daydream or let our mind wander.

You can read more about the default mode network of our brain here.

2 Drawing Techniques to Improve Memory Retention

The type of drawing that you do while listening is important. Jankie Andrade, from the School of Psychology, University of Plymouth, UK conducted an experiment on doodling and memory retention. During Jackie Andrade’s experiment, 40 participants listened to a telephone message containing the names of people coming to a party. Half of the group was asked to doodle by shading printed shapes. After listening to the message, they had a pop quiz where it turned out that the doodlers could recall 29% more information.

Notice that the kind of doodling the participants did was very controlled. They didn’t need to make many decisions while doodling and the technique of shading the shapes was simple to perform. If they had been asked to draw a portrait, the results surely would have been quite different.

I suggest pairing up the right kind of drawing activity with the intensity of the new information might be the key to making this successful.


Doodling or Mindful Drawing, where the learner is drawing repetitive designs or shapes, is the perfect kind of drawing to do when you are listening to information that is not terribly intense. The kind of information where your mind might start to wander. Doodling will keep your mind in standby mode so that you can take in more information.

Sketch Notes

If, however, you are trying to make sense of a complicated issue or you are trying to solve a mystery, I suggest making a different kind of drawing, such as a mind map or taking sketch notes. For this type of drawing, you translate auditory information into visual symbols, pictures, and diagrams. You are making visual connections between different bits of information and creating a hierarchy of information by the arrangement on your page. This type of drawing not only keeps your mind engaged but also helps you process the information in a way that engages more parts of your brain than just listening.

3 Tips for Retaining More of What You’ve Learned

Once you’ve heard the new information, whether it’s a podcast, lecture, book on tape, or conversation, there are a couple of things you can do to make the information stick.

Studies show that you can retain 90% of what you learn if you teach it to someone or implement it immediately.


If you just learned a new skill or technique, be sure to practice it right away. If you make mistakes as you are starting out, that’s even better. It’s when you have to problem-solve and make corrections that you create a better memory of how to do something. By contrast, if you do something flawlessly the first time, you are less likely to remember how to do it later.

So celebrate your mistakes because they are helping you remember what you are learning.


Simply explaining or teaching what you learned to a friend is a form of implementing the information. As we go through the process of teaching someone else, we will likely make mistakes and correct ourselves to give the other person accurate information. This process of making mistakes and corrections forces your brain to concentrate and hold onto the information.


Furthermore, by creating visual diagrams and charts, we can quickly and easily see the relationships between different ideas and concepts. This can help us identify areas where further research is needed or any gaps in our understanding. If you take Sketch Notes, you are a step ahead because you’ve gone through this process already. To cement your learning even further, now try teaching or implementing the information from your Sketch Notes.

You can read more about retaining more information here.


Generating New Ideas While Drawing

Drawing can also be a great way to generate new ideas and solutions. By taking the time to draw, we can give our brains a chance to wander and explore new possibilities. This can help us to come up with creative solutions to problems or to develop new ideas that we may not have considered before.

Cooking up Something New!

After you finish listening to that podcast or audiobook, continue to draw for a while. See what happens in your brain. Don’t be surprised if you start to get a flood of ideas about what you just learned and some possible ways to use that information. Don’t take this for granted! Jot that information down before you forget it! It’s easy to think that you’ll never forget such good information, but it can disappear as quickly as it appeared.


Drawing is a powerful tool for improving memory retention. It helps to keep the mind active and engaged, allowing us to store and recall information more effectively. Drawing can also help us to stay focused and engaged, allowing us to take in more of the material. Additionally, drawing can help us to better understand the material we’re studying and to generate new ideas and solutions. Finally, drawing can help us to stay organized and to better visualize our ideas.

By taking advantage of the benefits of drawing, we can improve our ability to remember and retain the information we learn. So why not give it a try and see what a difference it can make?

If you are interested in learning a type of drawing called Mindful Drawing, I’ve developed some lessons to teach you precisely the kind of drawing that can help you listen better and retain more information. (With the added bonus of creating a work of art and practicing your drawing skills.)

Try A Mindful Drawing!

You can watch this YouTube video and draw along as I make a mindful drawing. You only need something to draw with and a drink coaster (or something round like a lid). Calm your mind by making this beautiful line drawing!


Drawing to improve memory

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