Adult Coloring Boosts Productivity - InformationWeek

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6/12/2015
03:06 PM
David Wagner
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Adult Coloring Boosts Productivity

If you want your IT team to get things done, break out a pack of crayons and some coloring books at work.

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The next time your IT team is stuck for a creative solution to a problem, I suggest you break out the crayons and start coloring. Better yet, I suggest you integrate coloring into your disaster planning, network architecture, and anything else for which you need a map or chart.

Don't feel childish. Coloring has been proven to boost creativity and memory, improve our engagement at work, and lower stress. Read this, and you'll run out to buy a Crayola Big Box with the sharpener in the back for your whole team.

Your brain likes color. It helps it sort information and stay engaged. In fact, I'm going to give you a little blast of color right now to help you retain the rest of this article.

You know this about color instinctively as a business person. You don't create black-and-white ads if you can afford color. Your corporate logo probably isn't gray. Studies show brand recognition improves by 80% when color is added. Imagine the Coca-Cola logo without the red background. People will read an ad 42% more often if it is color. This is a normal part of business. Why aren't you putting it into practice in other places?

Simply adding color to text allows for 35% faster reading in autistic children. Adding color to text enhances memory in Alzheimer's patients. Students engage more of their brain when reading a text in color.

Think of it like doodling, another habit often maligned in the business world. Doodling has been proven to keep people's attention, to keep them more engaged, and to help connect memories from a lecture or meeting. People who doodle, even with abstract lines and patterns, recall more than people who don't. Coloring is doodling on steroids, because color turns on our brain.

[ And this true of some of the short attention span we have on the Internet, too. Read Microsoft Says Short Attention Spans Are Fine. ]

Instinctually, it is clear many of us feel this. In April, the top two bestselling books on Amazon were coloring books for adults. (Both are still in the top 20.) Five of the ten best-selling books in England recently were adult coloring books. If you have kids, you know that coloring with them is a secret pleasure. I dare you to say it isn't.

In 1982, noted anthropology professor Adrienne Zilhman put out a college-level textbook-as-coloring-book called The Human Evolution Coloring Book. That book, still in print, spawned many copycats in other fields. Working with color is a proven way to learn. It has decades of scientific backing.

You've almost certainly seen this anatomy book in college bookstores. It's a best-seller and a common part of early anatomy education:

(Image: Pearson via Amazon)

(Image: Pearson via Amazon)

Yet, I know if your CEO came into your department and saw your whole team coloring, he'd have questions and potentially a pink slip for you. It is a shame really. So here's the deal: If you can't get away with pulling out the coloring books, I want you to pull out the colored markers and hand-draw, in color, your data center, your network, your org charts -- anything. Color-code them. Fill in the boxes with colors that have meaning to you.

It will help your brain encode the information. You will learn it faster and retain it better. You'll be more creative, so you'll see flaws in the design. You'll loosen up and have a little fun. The stress release will be good for your health and for your team. Reducing stress even cuts down on sick days, so your team will be more productive. Color. It's good for you. It's good for your company.

Here's the thing: The sales of adult coloring books, the number of doodlers in meetings, the people secretly enjoying coloring their kids' restaurant place mats all show we're all into this instinctively. Why are we resisting at work in the name of looking business-like? Here's a starting picture for you to try. Go nuts.

What do you think? Have I convinced you to try it? Will you break out the crayons at your next meeting? What would be the response in your company if you tried it? Let me know in the comments section below.

David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Enterpriseefficiency.com. Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, ... View Full Bio
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Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
8/14/2015 | 5:18:30 AM
Re: Coloring your business
nomi, that's what I thought. :) The office can become some sort of break from home activities, which I imagine can be a little too much some times. -Susan
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
8/14/2015 | 2:09:28 AM
Re: Coloring your business

@Susan I believe that these coilouring books will sometime brings great ideas as your mind gets relaxed. Its  basically pressure releazing exercise. You feel comfortable and free and new ideas start creeping into your minds. Just try it :)

nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
8/14/2015 | 2:07:17 AM
Re: Coloring your business
@Susan :) absolutely not. Going to office with kids and you will be going home forever. I think changing the envirnoment of the atmosphere plays a very significant role as already highlighted in my previous post. I believe that with calculated changes in your working envirnoment you can increase your output. I will advice all organization heads to keep on changing and they will see the results.  :)
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
6/23/2015 | 10:54:24 AM
Re: Coloring your business
nomi, I am not sure that going to the office with your kids to play with coloring books would work quite well. Using colors in the office to have a more colorful environment to boost productivity, good mood, etc, is one thing, but go to the office to play with your kids is different. -Susan
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
6/23/2015 | 10:44:09 AM
Re: Lots of ways to boost creativity
@David I agree wit you there as far as workplace envirnoment is concerned. Few years back in my organization the productivity gets a bit low due to unanswered questions. The executives tried everything but couldnot get the right solution. In the ned it comes out to be the workplace envirnoment which needs to be readjusted. Opinions were taken from across the organization and amazing solutions were received which were implemented in a phase wise timeframe. And it invariably increases the productivity of the organization. I strongly believe that creativity plays a significance role in creating an envirnoment which has potential for progressing minds
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
6/23/2015 | 10:36:13 AM
Re: Coloring your business
@Susan that was not a buisnesss envirnoment in a real sense but there is a lot of potential to make it one.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
6/15/2015 | 12:33:17 PM
Re: Lots of ways to boost creativity
@whoopty- I think the key is not to avoid work but integrating creativity and exercise into work so that work isn't work either. But it requires changing the idea of what work looks like in the workplace.
Whoopty
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Whoopty,
User Rank: Ninja
6/15/2015 | 7:49:35 AM
Lots of ways to boost creativity
Colouring is a great idea, though there are lots of ways to boost creativity. Taking a walk every day can be a real help, as well as eating clean and exercising regularly. Taking a break at least once an hour too, even if it's just to stretch your legs is great.

Then again, most of my ideas for improving work seem to stem from not doing work, so maybe I'm the wrong person to ask...
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
6/14/2015 | 4:17:46 AM
Re: Coloring your business
nomi, was that a business environment? -Susan
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
6/13/2015 | 9:44:16 PM
Re: Coloring your business
@Susan very true. I was in china recently for buisness trip. Here I saw a very interesting thing. The have large playa reas where they have dedicated places for paintings. I was amazed to see that people take children there for paintins but instead of them hey are more joyful in doing it them selves. I felt that for some old habbits die hard. But for me it was an amazing site and felt like sitting with them and bring back my past. :)
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