1. Create and play verbal games with your co-workers (note: make sure co-workers are on downtime, too). Take turns naming movies that contain a person’s first or last name, famous graphic designers or typefaces.
2. Create a “How to Work With Graphic Designers: Client Handbook” as a prevention against problematic clients.
3. Unleash creativity on yourself/company by redesigning your business card, website, marketing collateral, etc.
4. Most design offices have a solid library of inspirational books and magazines, so spend time flipping through those goodies.
5. Ask your project manager if she knows of any upcoming projects that you could start brainstorming about.
6. Redesign a boring office document such as the “project sheet checklist” that the entire creative staff (copywriters, art directors, production team, proofreaders and account managers) uses.
7. Review your firm’s past marketing materials to see what’s been done before and how you could improve upon it.
8. Make fun “do not disturb—meeting in progress” signs and door hangers for daily office meetings.
9. Create cartoons of your office environment/co-workers/clients. People-watching can provide an endless source of humor and creative inspiration.
10. Get over the “it’s not part of my job description” attitude and ask other departments if they could use your help. You may just write the next winning campaign slogan or advertising copy.
11. Study your company’s office system. If you have dreams of one day starting your own design firm, take notes on how efficiently (or not) the office runs and why. Does the system work? Is the team organized? How would you improve it?
12. How familiar are you really with all the programs on your computer? Do you know how to use Flash or Dreamweaver? Use the downtime to explore new design skills.
13. Search online for designs you love and challenge yourself to
14. Why not go out to lunch or take your lunch somewhere? And while you’re out, pay attention to the typography you see.
15. Think of 15 more ways that you can turn downtime into creative playtime.
Stephanie Orma is a San Francisco Bay area graphic designer, illustrator and wordsmith. She’s principal/creative director of the boutique graphic design and copywriting studio Orma Design. During her office downtime, Orma brainstorms creative ideas for her clever card company, She’s SO Creative. www.shesocreative.com; www.ormadesign.com