Over the years, I have curated a fine collection of office supplies and other random things that I’ve found I cannot live without at work. Among these things are items that make me smile, keep me motivated, help me be efficient when it comes to doing my job, and inspire me. Many of these things come with me from job to job, and some have even followed me from college. Of everything I have collected, I find a water bottle, a ruler, a stress ball, a stash of non-digital inspiration, and colored pencils.
Almost every creative I know has a zone that they fall into when they are working hard. It’s different for each of us, and doesn’t always happen at the same time every day, but when the zone hits, it can mean hours of unending work, forgotten meals, and a headache you don’t realize you have until it’s too late. I’ve found that a water bottle helps keep me from getting that headache. It also helps get me up and moving, even if I’m in a zone, which is beneficial for many reasons.
I don’t always keep the same water bottle by me. I have a glass water bottle that I bring in periodically and refill, but I also refill plastic water bottles. Why a bottle instead of just a cup? I find I drink more water if I have a bottle by me, since it holds more. A cup ends up being too much of a distraction for me to keep heading to the water cooler to feel like I’m getting any work done, while a water bottle allows me to sit and get stuff done between refills without getting dehydrated enough to develop a headache.
Despite most things being digital nowadays, there are some things that just can’t be done on a computer. Even when I don’t think I’ll need a ruler, it comes in handy, and I find it’s something most offices don’t regularly keep on hand. And let me tell you, when you need a ruler, you need a ruler… there’s no waiting for the office supply delivery truck when you have a deadline looming. I have a trusty tri-edge ruler that I’ve had since my second year of college. It’s marked up, never seems to fit right in a desk drawer, and has one edge that’s definitely no longer straight. It has my initials on it, but even so I rarely loan it out.
I’ve used my ruler to measure product samples to ensure descriptions were accurate for packaging, to score printouts so mockups fold cleanly, and to create to-scale thumbnails. It’s even come in handy to illustrate sizes without having to waste paper, since often things on-screen look larger than what they’ll print out. For me, a ruler is an absolute necessity at my desk; it comes with me to the first day on a job and is one of the first things that gets packed up when I leave.
A Stress Ball
This one seem like a bit of a cliche, but it’s not because creatives are stressed (though sometimes, a tight deadline can do that). For me, a stress ball is more about having something else to do with my hands when I need a break from the mouse and keyboard than being stressed. It can help to sit back and knead a stress ball while I look at a design, search for inspiration, or hash out changes with coworkers. For some reason, it just helps the creative juices flow, and over the years it has become a must-have for me. I’ve found a favorite gel-like stress ball, but do like to collect unique ones I find at trade shows and whatnot. My favorite one comes with me when I move to a new job… the rest seem to be take-it-or-leave-it.
A Stash of Non-Digital Inspiration
There is a plethora of inspiration available all over the Internet–any creative knows that. I would wager that any creative also knows that sometimes, the Internet isn’t available when inspiration is needed, and when you’re looking for ideas and you can’t tap into your main source, things can get frustrating. A non-digital stash of things that feed your creativity is another great way to take a break from the computer screen and save your eyes from some fatigue.
Last but not least, colored pencils are a must-have for me, and it’s another thing that most offices don’t ever seem to have. Sometimes, the only way to get an idea across is to sketch it out, and it’s even easier to do so when you have color placed. Red, blue, and black pens, plus highlighters, can only get you so far, so bringing a stash of colored pencils to work can really help a creative explain their thought process.
Do you have anything in your stash of creative supplies that’s not on my list?
If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!