Keep A ‘Comfort Doodad’ Nearby When You Need To Relax And Think

Keep A ‘Comfort Doodad’ Nearby When You Need To Relax And Think

The office isn’t necessarily the best place to brainstorm great ideas. James Kerr, author of The Executive Checklist, recommends keeping a small object with you that mentally transports you to a different place.

Photo by Okko Pyykkö.

Ideally, it should be something that you can carry with you anywhere, like a tennis ball that reminds you of playing with your dog or a Rubik’s cube to activate your mind and get it wandering. Kerr says:

Have something small on your desk or in your briefcase that you can grab when need to relax and think. It can be a polished stone that reminds you of a beach that you like to visit or a golf tee that prompts a nice thought about the coming weekend — anything that takes your mind away from the issue that you’re working through. I keep a yo-yo around. Even if I’m camped out at a Starbucks, I can stand-up and give it a spin, whenever I need a diversion to help me bust through.

One of the aspects of coming up with new ideas is to let your subconscious process information and make connections, which can be spurred by not actively thinking about your problem. The tactile nature of the comfort doodad, I’ve found, also helps me engage other senses instead of sitting idly and thinking. It’s a nice break from routine.

How to Prepare Your Workspace for Super Productivity [Inc.]


  • Try a “tangle” its a sensory toy as its kind of a mix between worry beads and playing with rubber bands. I find stress balls are too aggressive and its something you can fiddle without needing to focus on it. Great for anxiety.

  • I print a lot of ID cards at work for staff and visitors, and the ones that don’t turn out properly are stacked next to my monitor. They’re great for comfort, as you can fan them out, shuffle them and generally harass and abuse them because they’re the faulty cards and nobody cares if you scribble on them or snap them in two.

    I also have one of these: which is fun because you can zone out and watch the ferrofluid move around. I also have a Rubik’s cube, but it’s solved at the moment, and I intend to keep it that way.

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