The lens through which children view the world is one of unadulterated creativity. Kindled by imagination, they refuse to box themselves in and take every opportunity to paddle through the meeting room (wait, that’s us). Children are Creative Directors, and they could care less about portfolios or awards. They’re in it for the process, man. And they don’t let adult constructs like “responsibility” or “putting on pants” impede their vision. You see soggy Cheerios—they see en vogue wall decor. You see two thumbs—they see rocket ship fuel controls. For them, parameters are fiction. Everything else is as real as the words on this page.

So, as employees in a creative industry, what’s the N64 cheat code for new ideas? How do we get the creative apple juices flowing from 9ish to 5ish? How do we stay afloat? The answer, in my opinion, isn’t anything profound. We just have to be stimulated (and keep paddling).

Here are some ways to elicit “the feels” during business hours.


Listen to music.

As a writer, I like to make a unique playlist for each client to guide tone of voice. If I’m trying to convey some blue collar, hard-working attitude, Metallica’s in there. If I’m writing for a luxury yacht brand, you can bet your bottom dollar I’m bumpin’ Bach or Beethoven.

Prince once said, “Music is music, ultimately. If it makes you feel good, cool.”

I think we can all agree on that.


Eat food. Drink drink.

Healthy snacks like fruit, granola bars, and nuts are my go-tos. Keep grazing throughout the day for maximum results. Drinks? I opt for coffee, tea, or water. Coffee is a literal stimulant so enough said. Tea is great if you’re trying to cut back on coffee and think you’re better than everyone. Water is essential to sustaining human life, so try and work that in too.


Get your blood flowing.

And nothing gets the blood flowing like a little physical activity. I like to keep a Nerf football on my desk at all times. If I’m in a funk, I stare at a work buddy across the room, give a little nod, and we both know it’s time to play catch for a few minutes. If you have an open office, it’s your responsibility to run pro-quality routes. No excuses. If catch isn’t your thing, you can just get up and go say “hey” to the other side of the office. Any movement helps.


Change your environment.

Your desk is nice. You’ve done a great job making it yours with knick-knacks and family photos, but that’ll only go so far. If you sit in the same place, at the same time, for five days a week, it’s bound to get stale. Get your laptop and post up on a couch. Spend some time at a table in the kitchen. Have an outdoor patio? Even better. Something new to look at might be all it takes to spark an innovative idea.


Have an out-loud conversation.

The work you do only works if it resonates with people, so don’t forget how to be a real person. Minimize that Slack window, set your Google Chat to Be Right Back and have a real, out-loud conversation with somebody. Laugh. Cry. Gossip. Scheme. Real human interactions build social skills and empathy. Both are vital to producing work that actually works.

How some South employees overcome a creative roadblock:

“Keep moving. Getting too granular can stop momentum. It’s okay to sacrifice nuance for the sake of pace because you can always come back to the hold-up.” — Brandon Willet, Sr. Art Director

“I listen to music and thumb through a magazine. Stepping away from my computer and absorbing something tangible helps me find inspiration from a different point of view.” — Madison Dixon, Designer

“Reevaluate the point of what you’re doing. I do so by sitting down and writing a quick end goal (or thesis statement) and then organizing the piece around that.” — Caroline Robinson, Agency Services Intern

“I take advantage of when I know I’m most productive. Oftentimes when I have a project to complete and have been running into roadblocks, I’ll wake up early and complete it before coming into the office.” — Haley McGahey, Digital Producer

Inspiration comes from whatever I can get my hands on. The unfamiliar things. Things that scare me. Getting my hands dirty forces me to be involved in all parts of the job, including the unpleasant, or parts that involve hard, practical work.” — Ron Edelen, Chief Creative Officer

How do you stay creative at work? Let us know in the comments below.

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