Can You Doodle Your Way to Productivity?

Do you doodle? Have you purchased one of the millions of coloring books made specifically for adults that have sold in the last few years? I doodle occasionally. Garfield has made some appearances on my notes and random trees and bushes occasionally appear during a long presentation. And I pretend that I am coloring along with my young daughters, when I really just want to feel a crayon on paper.

Finding Resilience Dr. Jason Troyer Doodle

A recent example of one of Dr. Jason Troyer's doodles.

But doodlers and amateur artists can point to research that suggests their creations are more than mere distractions. A research study in 2010 found that participants who doodled while listening to a boring voice message actually had better recall than those who didn’t doodle. This suggests that doodling can actually promote concentration. (Perhaps I shouldn’t get mad at my students who doodle during my lectures?)

There are a variety of hypotheses for the allure and benefits of coloring and doodling. Some psychologists believe that taking a mental break from difficult tasks and working on a specific, achievable task (like coloring) can provide a quick break and allows you to return to a difficult task with new insights and energy. Others suggest that because many occupations do not allow for a lot of creativity, coloring or doodling provides a quick and easy way to express your artistic side. Many people simply crave a simple task in which they can see direct (and creative) results.

As long as your doodling or coloring habits do not overtake your responsibilities, you should embrace your creative side and allow it to help reduce your stress and return to your tasks with new energy and a fresh perspective.

Finding Resilience Ken Haas Doodle

Another doodle example, contributed by Homesteaders' Senior Media Designer Ken Haas.

Here is a website with free downloadable and printable pictures for coloring (no registration necessary):

If you’re going to doodle or color, then you should do it right. Stop by the store and pick up a brand new set of colored pencils. Or maybe it is time to get a new pack of crayons. Go ahead and get the big pack (with the sharpener in the back!). You deserve it. 

Dr. Jason Troyer is a psychology professor, former counselor, grief researcher and consultant for businesses that want to better serve grieving families. He has written numerous aftercare materials, including the Finding Hope booklet series, and is a frequent presenter at funeral service professional events.

Research cited: Andrade, J. (2010). What does doodling do? Applied Cognitive Psychology, 24, 100-106.

Finding Resilience: Learn more about the burnout prevention program designed for funeral professionals

This information is not intended to replace information from a mental health or medical professional. The reader should consult an appropriate professional in matters related to his or her physical and emotional health.

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