Worth A Thousand Words: How Art Can Help Your Work Performance


You’re in a meeting, or on a call, and your mind’s starting to wander. The more you try to focus, the more distracted you get, thinking about the stress of your job and how tired you are. If you’re in the 38% of Americans who daydream during meetings, you’re not alone, but you may be wondering how you can get back on track. If you’re making time to take care of yourself and your mind is still wandering, you may want to pick up a pen: it turns out that adopting an artistic hobby can be great for your stress levels, your brain, and your work performance – no talent required!

Do You Doodle?

Spirals on your notes, stick figures, flowers: you may think it looks unprofessional, but doodling during a meeting actually helps you pay attention. The University of Plymouth’s Jackie Andrade explains in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology that those who doodle are able to retain more of what was discussed. Letting yourself idly color in your own bullet points occupies just enough of your attention that your backbrain stops daydreaming, letting the rest of you focus on what’s being said. So don’t be worried if you end up drawing in your notepad: you’re actually helping yourself listen.

Don’t Know How To Draw?

Take a step beyond doodling and teach yourself to draw some simple shapes: it’ll help you learn and retain more during your workday, too. As we learn new skills, our brains rewire themselves, making learning other things easier too. So practicing your cartoon cats, dogs, and horses can open up your brain to picking up things in the workplace, as well. Plus, the satisfaction of mastering something new carries over into your work.

Too Tired For A New Hobby?

You’re overworked, you’re tired – it turns out that adding a hobby to your life can help relieve this. Employees with a hobby outside of work are better performers in the workplace, and are more relaxed outside it. The most useful hobbies are “productive” ones – like knitting, art, or music – rather than passively watching TV.  Finding a productive hobby that you enjoy gives you feelings of success and satisfaction while working on a project that counteracts the negative effects of stress. It may also help you connect with someone at work who shares your hobby.

What Does Art Have To Do With My Job?

Learning to draw a realistic coffee mug is great, but you may wonder how else an artistic hobby can help with your job. Art is a form of visual communication, and as you learn about it and familiarize yourself, you may find your presentations becoming more clean and colorful. An awareness of artistic space will improve the way you share your data with your workplace. Improved communication leads to improved job performance.

So next time you’re on a call, or you’re feeling stressed and lethargic, pick up a pen and let yourself go. A few minutes a day can develop into a hobby that’s not just fun for you, but will help you shine in the workplace as well.


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