I have spent a lot of my career in cubes and offices that were designed as though they were straight out of a Dilbert cartoon. Many of you are in the same environment. You would think that the office and the cubicle environment would be very un-Ideative. It could be, if we let it. Instead, with a few toys, internet access, and occasional breaks in our work day we can make our workspaces into portal for expanding our Experience and Knowledge.
For many years now I have kept my various Ideative toys around. Building blocks including Legos and Robotix are among my favorites. I also have some clay, tape, a variety of pens, pencils, paper clips, and all the other things normally found in an office.
Sometimes I find my hands assembling some sort of structure while I am on conference call, or deep in thought about how to turn a full page of PowerPoint text into a single diagram. This sort of play is about building a structure and then trying to imagine what that structure is.
When I am paying more attention I look at the blocks that I have on my desk and I envision a structure that I then build. When I am more adventurous, I envision something that is not related to the blocks, then try to get there with blocks and other items that I have at my desk.
Note that this kind of activity only takes a few minutes. I can build more complex structures by working on them for a few minutes, then coming back to them later.
eHow advises using everything from toys, gadgets, and fun office supplies to spruce up the life in your work area. Work Happy Now shows a workspace loaded with books, games, and artwork. This is a great example for environments where this is permitted. Areas like this can be even better if the inhabitant changes the material around from time to time to keep everything fresh and exciting.
Your office or cube is a great place to learn a foreign language. Pick five new words to learn each day and post them on your desk, walls, and computer screen, as reminders (that’s 1,200 new words per year if you work 20 days per month!). Label the objects around your work area with their names in your new language and you’ll practice every time you see those items. A keyboard is a teclado in Spanish. The mouse is a raton, and a pen is a pluma.
In the future, I’ll write about the value of learning a new language. For now, it’s enough to understand that learning a new language can be fun, tremendous help while traveling, and great for Ideative. The Ideative values are both in challenging the brain to learn new words and grammar rules, and in addition, expanding your ability to express yourself and to think – you think in languages.
And of course, there is music. Last week I wrote about the value of music to The Ideative Process. Thanks to digital music it is very easy to keep a variety of music at your desk, and don’t forget that if your company allows you to access music sites you unlimited online sources (if your company does not allow you to access music sites, send this article and my article from last week to your IT manager and to your supervisor as a suggestion to improve employee thinking.
I listen a pair of desktop speakers and keep earplugs handy when I need to keep the volume down. I can’t always listen to music; there are times when any music distracts me. However, much of the time the music drowns out or at least diffuses the noises around me creating a more pleasant work environment.
Check my blogroll for great suggestions for puzzles, art, and lectures that you can access from your desk. Instead of looking at your office or cube as a box, a constraint to your mind and body, consider it a portal connected to a world of Experience and Knowledge.