Spreadsheets are a great way to organize passwords. Empty boxes are a great way to archive. So how do you create an inspired environment without costly aroma therapy or ski ball? I love being cheap when it comes to office decorum, but that’s because I enjoy the finer things in life like rent and food. The fact of the matter is that building an office that caters to creativity doesn’t have to be expensive. A multitude of products and services exist that will help you relax, manage or organize but they can add up. Here’s how to build an efficient office oasis on the cheap.

1. Shower paneling and dry-erase markers $15 – Shower paneling equals one cheap whiteboard. It works like a charm and costs a fraction of a finished whiteboard. It may not be the most ascetically pleasing, but a 4’x8′ space for free-form thought cannot be undervalued.

2. Notebooks and tape $5 – Stickie notes are 3″x3″ and have the holding power of a toddler on a jungle gym. Tape is more versatile and paper is more practical. And don’t worry about your jimmy-rigged posted notes taking off the paint – you have a whiteboard.

3. Coffee by the can and filters $8 – Nothing is more soothing than a flavored gourmet double shot of espresso with extra fat free whip cream, right? Wrong! Smashing writers block with a sledgehammer of genius is much more gratifying. Early mornings and long nights require fuel – gritty , old-school fuel. Give me black coffee from a tin and let me face the demon of mediocrity head on.

4. Baby diapers $2 – I don’t need a fancy eraser. I want a dust rag I can count on.

5. Garbage $0 – Recycle everything. That crumpled up sketch may have totally sucked, but tossing it against a wall or sinking the winning fade-away from six feet may just be enough stimulus to get you thinking of something else, something relevant to the cause. Think about it. If your office has a pool table to “unwind and create,” what are you creating? Those 15 balls have assigned rules. The objective is fixed in your mind. When you throw a ball of trash into the garbage, you are already testing the outer limits of reality. That wad of paper has transformed into something with a new purpose. The receptacle is now a goal rather than a mundane destination. Chances are the act of launching that paper into the goal conjures up a storyline fostered and nurtured by your imagination.

Don’t waste your money on objects trying to soothe or stimulate. Spend your money on execution and innovation. If you get stumped, hire a professional. I’ll be out back doing a 720 with a full twist for my dumpster dive.