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When I was stuck in a cube, I desperately missed being surrounded by all things… creative. As a kid I believed I was creative, until my elementary school art teacher literally crushed my dreams. I still remember the picture I drew and how proud I was of it (an ant’s view of the world – think: grass and tulips), until the critique was delivered.

From that moment on, I started censoring my creativity – I stopped drawing and painting, I wouldn’t let anyone read what I wrote, I only colored between the lines with realistic colors, and I tempered my inner creative voice and vision for the next 20+ years.

And when I looked around my gray cubicle and saw how boring it was, lacking any color or pictures that made me smile, I felt like I hit a low point and I wanted to run as far away as possible.

I need color, I need pretty notebooks and colored pens, I prefer colored staples and paperclips – but I was conforming to the corporate standards because I forgot how much those simple things made an impact in my mood and outlook. So here are seven quick ways for you to ignite your inner creativity from your cube!

  1. Buy a pack of colored pens – have them sitting out on your desk and use them. One of my favorite packs is the Pilot Precise V5 set: it writes super fine and the pack has normal (blue, black, red) colors and some fun ones (pink, green, purple).
  2. Put a pop of color inside your notebook/day planner – it may be difficult to switch over notebooks immediately, but it’s easy to get one of your favorite images, a pop of color, or a pretty saying in postcard size, and tape it to the inside of your notebook. No one but you will see it, but it will make you smile every time.
  3. Colored staples – I know, it sounds super corny, but I get more comments and smiles from this than anything else. They are around $4 from Target or Michaels and come in a variety of colors. I keep regular staples on hand too, for larger more visible projects, but for everything small, I staple with color. My favorite is the pink, yellow, teal, and blue pack.
  4. Put a picture up – you don’t have to go all decorator on your area, but make a picture (or find one online), that energizes you. Perhaps it’s a strong color block or a design; but find something that speaks to you and keep it in a place where you can always glance at it. I put mine right beside my monitor – no one else could see it, but it made me smile throughout the day.
  5. Start your day off with one song – music energizes your body and soul and can quickly change your mood and perspective. I try to start each work day with one song at my desk, just for me. My current favorite: anything from Pentatonix.
  6. Color – next time you run to the store, pick-up a coloring book and some crayons. While you’re watching tv or just hanging out, color. Be bold in your coloring and dare to color outside of the lines!
  7. Start doodling– in meetings, we all have the urge to do something with our hands, especially if the meeting is dragging on. So go ahead – doodle! Stop holding yourself back from letting your creativity wonder. Studies have shown that doodling actually helps with memory retention, and believe me – no one can tell the difference between taking notes and doodling, so stop worrying about that.
Photo Credit: Linda Cronin