The Practice of Creativity

Posts Tagged ‘clutter

Affirmations-366Days#285: I minimize disorganization and clutter in my life, so that I can maximize my writing time and effort.

For new readers, here’s why I’m committing to writing affirmations, about the creative process, during the next 366 days.

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Affirmations-366Days#23-My writing space is a sanctuary. I keep this space decluttered and organized.

For new readers, here’s why I’m committing to writing affirmations, about the creative process, during the next 366 days.

Commentary:

How is your writing space looking and feeling these days? Your writing space may mean a desk, a kitchen table, an office or your laptop.

One look at my desk and you might believe that paper monsters had invaded, had sex on my desk and left their offspring behind.

Ah, Houston...we have a problem! This is not my office, BTW.

Ah, Houston…we have a problem! This is not my office, BTW, but I have been there.

January is the perfect time to assess one’s space and make small adjustments. I usually save big stuff for spring cleaning.

I did these three tasks which took almost no time at all, made me feel great and organized my space:

-I organized the growing stack of business cards and notes about writers I’ve met during 2015. I’m setting aside some time tomorrow to follow-up with a few people by email.

-I take many writing workshops and classes and tend to keep examples of other students’ work. I find it useful to see how someone approaches a style of writing or technique that I am interested in (e.g. writing a persona poem). The challenge, of course, is that these kinds of papers can accumulate. Today, I flipped through material I had been keeping for years, made some notes and then pitched the stack.

-I tend to have idea cards and sticky notes around my house and home office. I gathered them up, read through them, clustered several together (e.g. Zora Neale Hurston ghost story), and put them in my ‘idea folder’. I love going “shopping” in this folder from time to time.

What are three small tasks you can do that will help your writing space look and feel great?

This week ushers in spring for many of us. It also marks passage of the first quarter of the year. Can you believe it? It seems like only yesterday we were writing down our resolutions for living an even more inspired creative life in 2015. Have some of those commitments and intentions gotten sidetracked since then?

Totally understandable. Spring can put us back on track. This season enables us to connect with a feeling of renewal that we begin to see physically manifested all around us. Spring also powers us with the energy to tackle the physical spaces (and states of mind) that no longer serve our creative life.

It also presents us with a perfect time to reassess, reorganize and rededicate ourselves to the projects that we most want to bring into the world.

Here is my three step process that I have found useful for spring cleaning:

1) You reassess your space, your schedule, and patterns of mind to see what is supporting or not supporting your creative life.

2) You reorganize your space, schedule, and patterns of minds to allow you to create with more ease.

3) After reassessing and reorganizing, you rededicate yourself to having a productive and joyful creative life!

 

Clutter can immobilize our creative lives.

Ah, Houston...we have a problem!

Ah, Houston…we have a problem!

I know from personal experience how debilitating and draining it can be to work in a perpetually cluttered space. I’ve written about how powerful it was to tackle clutter and dramatically change my home writing space.

My desk=before

My desk=before

 

my desk=after

My desk=after

In upcoming posts, I’ll talk more about the 3 ‘Rs’ as it pertains to schedule and patterns of mind. But, let’s start with reassessing your space.

What about your creative space? Does it need a spring tune-up?

Go and look at your creative space. What’s the state of it? Do you feel a sense of ease when you look at it? Is it crammed with stuff that belongs in other rooms of your house? If you live with other people, is this space known as your special writing/photography/painting, etc., area?

Have you even claimed some special place yet, or are you waiting for permission from someone else? If you’re struggling with this, see my post on claiming creative space.

Survey your space and make a quick list of what you feel needs your attention most. The questions below are not exhaustive*, but offer a good place to begin.

-Do you need to organize and sort your paper files?

-Would it be useful to create an index for your piles of journals, scripts, CDs, DVDs (i.e. whatever you consider your primary creative material)?

-Are there notes from conferences, master classes, residencies and/or workshops that need to be reviewed and filed?

-When was the last time you did a backup of your computer files? Do you need to delete or add programs?

-Are there creative projects that you’ve abandoned that still take up lots of physical space? Can they be re-purposed or stored elsewhere?

-Do you need to physically clean your computer?

-Do you have visible reminders of your creative accomplishments? Is it time to take some down and put up new ones?

-Do you have too much or too little of something in your space?

-Do you need more or less shelf space?

-Are there big physical jobs you’d like to do (e.g. paint)?

Once you have your list you can break each item down into specific tasks.

It’s important to not get overwhelmed during spring cleaning. Many people decide they will devote a day to a spring cleaning project and then realize that they’re cranky after two hours and that the task requires at least two days. Start small and reward yourself often. Why not take from now until the official start of summer to spring clean? You could choose one project each week. I suggest working in 15-30 minute intervals so there’s less chance of getting frustrated and overwhelmed. I enjoy using an online stopwatch.

 

*adapt this question and others to your needs if writing isn’t your primary focus

 

What kind of spring cleaning are you planning to do in support of your creative life? I’d love to hear.

 

Is your desktop (or smartphone) awash in files and icons that you rarely use? Is your Inbox crammed to capacity? Do you break out in a cold sweat when you think about the last time you backed up and sorted photos stored on your computer? Do you have hundreds of bookmarks? Digital acquisition feels easy at first, but like any kind of clutter it adds up and over time can contribute to disorganization and psychological stress.

Last week I started a series about springing cleaning for your writing life. Spring cleaning brings both physical and psychological benefits including increased energy, clarity and an uncluttered space. I focused on reassessing clutter in one’s physical writing space. In doing my own bout of spring cleaning, I couldn’t help notice how cluttered my desktop looked, how I was a bookmark acquirer and how all three of my email accounts haven’t been purged or organized in quite some time. After I posted, I realized that e-clutter deserved some time of its own.

E-clutter covers a vast array of digital items: email, contacts, bookmarks, photos, videos, text messages, blog posts, e-books tweets, documents, newsletters, etc. Items that as Jamie Derringer says, in her article about e-clutter, can “turn your computer into a virtual disaster area, making it nearly impossible to locate items without conducting a search.”

Managing the digital world too often fails to get (or sustain) our attention. E-clutter is easy to ignore, unlike physical clutter, most of the time as it fades into the larger digital background noise of our lives. While I’ve trained myself that if I bring five books home it means that I have to give away five, I’m less diligent when I subscribe to blogs, accept a specialty coupon by email, or bookmark every passing fancy to ask: What’s my capacity here? Do I really need this bit of information? How often will I use it? Where will I store it over time? These are the kinds of questions that are useful to ask as we go about our day navigating the digital landscape.

The psychological payoff for decluttering our physical environment holds true for our digital lives. It takes time, patience and a strategy. If you’re interested in putting e-clutter on your spring cleaning agenda, here are some helpful resources to get started:

http://www.diylife.com/2010/10/05/organize-your-e-clutter-like-a-pro/

http://www.otherinbox.com/cbs-early-show-tips-to-declutter-your-e-clutter-with-organizer/

I’d love to know: What’s your story with e-clutter? How are you managing it? Is it on your spring cleaning list? Any worthwhile tips you can share?

(post appeared today on She Writes)

(Photo credit-Google Images)


Michele Tracy Berger

Michele Tracy Berger

Author, Academic, Creativity Expert I'm an award winning writer.

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