As the school year begins, the margins of many Palo Alto High School students’ notebooks fill up quickly with sketches as the clock ticks through class. Many unconsciously pick up their pencils and begin to create their own style of doodling.

Each individual has their own doodling preferences, whether it’s doodling images of objects, faces or abstract patterns. Free-form scribbling, although sometimes not as visually appealing, is another popular form of doodling. Studies have shown that as a person’s stress levels rise, the urge to doodle increases.

Doodling is a very popular means of passing time among students. But why is doodling so pleasing and addictive?  Students often times do not even doodle on purpose, but the desire to fill in little hearts in the margins may be too strong to suppress. Mindless drawing can help with a wide range of situations from relieving boredom and frustration to helping a student study to being an outlet for creativity. Students also can utilize doodling as a means to visualize their notes as they write them, which can enhance retention and generate new ideas related to the subject the student is learning. Since minimum attention is required for doodling, it is possible to both doodle and listen to what the teacher is saying. Unlike other activities students could do in class, doodling does not cause a cognitive overload.

Doodling in class may be more beneficial for students than purely sitting still in class. Some students at Paly have decided to share their doodles with us and give us insight on why they doodle.


“I think it’s very relaxing to draw the same thing over and over again; it relaxes me and it looks satisfying, as well. You also are able to get really good at drawing that one thing if you draw it over and over again.”

-Sam Guernsey


“I like doodling because it feels almost like an exercise in creativity. I like that, in a way, I have to challenge myself to see what I can create. The idea of making arbitrary strokes on a page and having them become something random is satisfying to me.”

-Julie Cornfield


“I like to doodle because it calms me down when I’m stressed, and is something that is relaxing. I tend to doodle cartoons, and just really free draw whatever comes in mind.”

-Carlos Diaz


“I draw because I have a cylinder in my brain. This cylinder gets filled with ideas and it gets clogged often. So I draw to empty this cylinder out and keep fresh ideas in my brain. Drawing is an escape with infinite possibilities at your fingertips.”

-Adrien Tompert


“I mainly doodle to pass time in class. I usually go through phases of what I draw, which used to be a lot of unicorns and realistic eyes. Lately it has been more waves, mountains, and lettering. Most of what’s in the pictures are things I’ve drawn a lot of times before.”

-Maryanne Fu