Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

3 Easy Ways to Organize Your Life and Boost Creativity

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From Jeremy: This is a guest post by Chrystal Murphy. Unlike most of us, Chrystal is an organizational expert and enjoys putting things back where they belong. She is the mother of a beautiful girl with a rare genetic disorder. As a family they are living a better, and incredibly organized, story. You can connect with her on Twitter or on her blog.

I know what you’re thinking. You saw the word “organize” and “creative” in the same sentence and immediately thought it must be a typo. Or perhaps the suggestions that follow will include hiring a maid, mailing your kids to grandma’s house and throwing blankets over all the stuff piled inside your house.

Actually, now that I think about it, those might not be bad ideas…

Maybe we’ll explore those options another time. The truth is, a little organization can make it easier for you to create. And a few simple steps can help you keep momentum going without being distracted.

photo by Danijel Grabovac (Creative Commons)

It is both a blessing and a curse of the creative mind to be easily distracted. Creatives often notice things that others fail to see.

Unfortunately, this also means it is easy to sit down and immediately see 27 other things we should be doing…already distracted and the work hasn’t even begun.

What can be done to avoid this?

Here are three easy tips for removing some of those distractions:

1. Remove physical clutter. Physical clutter can be anything that takes up unnecessary space in your home (or office). – excess clothing, excess children’s toys, excess purses, excess CDs, excess anything that lives in your space. Why not give the excess to someone who truly needs it? You will feel better knowing that your excess is meeting someone else’s needs. And you’ll have fewer distractions and more free space to enjoy.

2. Be Prepared. Nothing derails your creative process like having to stop to search for the computer charger or an ink pen. Tools that are used often should be easily accessible. For example, a pen cup on the top of your desk holds writing utensils. A handy notebook ensures blank paper is always available. Tools that are less often used can take up harder to reach storage space at the back of cabinets and on high shelves.

3. Schedule your creative time. Life is busy. Set aside some specific time to create or it will not happen. You must fight for that time and guard it fiercely. The easiest way to do this is to determine a routine that works for you and schedule it every day just like you would schedule an appointment. Whether it’s at 7:00 am or 7:00 pm, the key is that you are doing it. Don’t let chores or errands or other obligations steal from your creative time. Put it on your calendar and reserve that slot to work on your art.

Organization does not have to be an overwhelming task. Just a few simple steps can make a huge difference in your productivity and your ability to concentrate without distraction.

Organization is a tool – much like a calendar or calculator – that you can use to make life a bit easier. And, in turn, encourage your creative side to work freely and without distraction.

What is one area you could organize quickly that would make your creative work a bit easier? Do you have any quick tips of your own?

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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27 Replies

  1. I am TERRIBLE about clutter. I’ve got it everywhere. I know I need to work on cleaning it as I go, rather than letting it accumulate and overwhelm me. When my house, or even just my creative space is clean and organized, it’s amazing how much better I feel and more willing to be creative I am.

  2. If my desk ever looked as clean as the desk in that picture, I would weep tears of joy. 😉 Great information. Thanks

  3. Jamie I think you hit on the key clutter problem for all of us – it accumulates so easily. And quickly. Getting it out of our space sure makes a difference. Thanks so much for sharing.

  4. I think one man’s mess is another man’s organized filing system. That’s at least what I tell myself and then I feel much, much better :)

  5. Ha! That’s great Jim! To a certain extent I think you’re right. Meaning, your organization system has to work for YOU. Beyond that….it’s just messy. :)

  6. I agree Eileen. That workspace is lovely.

  7. What? Your desk isn’t that clean? Mine is perfect. : )

  8. This helps me. I tend to try to organize after I’ve already made a mess. Organization is like anything else. It is the result of good habits. We are organized when we do the little things every day to be that way.

  9. Don’t let that mess stress you out, Jim.

  10. My wife trained the kids and me with the mantra, “You cannot organize clutter!” That means that clutter, by definition, gets in the way. So we got rid of a lot of stuff.

    When we found ourselves with more books than bookshelves, we donated a lot of them to our church library, among other places. I highly recommend it! A good way to help your church with money you’ve already spent!

  11. Great suggestion. I think we all have more stuff than we really need.

  12. You know whats funny: I cant even BEGIN to write unless I wash up the dishes and clean my house. It’s weird. But the clutter outside hurts my internal creativity. I sooooo relate to this post!

  13. Cool. The clutter that kills me is the clutter in my inbox. Same idea.

  14. I love that mantra Jeff. And your wife is absolutely right – gotta get rid of the excess before you can truly be organized.

  15. Clutter impacts all of us to different degrees. But having a clean and orderly space definitely helps with focus and creativity. Thanks for sharing Mike!

  16. Great point Jeremy. Organizing doesn’t have to be a huge overwhelming ordeal. Little things done every day make a big difference.

  17. i don’t necessarily own a lot of things. not a minimalist (yet) but nor am i an over-consumer easier. but i am a clutter-er, throwing clothes, mail, and my phone just about anywhere there’s a clear spot. at times, this method is easy for finding pressing things i need to do (like paying a bill) but it does drive me crazy and can definitely keep me from focusing on my creative work.

    great post!

  18. I’ve found that I like big space otherwise the clutter (not always removable things like my printer, etc.) make me feel claustrophobic. I’ve also found that I can’t have anything I could fidget with on my desk. Pen caps aren’t a big deal but a friend gave me a little toy trinket once. It distracted me for weeks. Great advice, Chrystal.

  19. Thanks so much Katie. Just keep in mind that things you use aren’t really clutter. If you don’t use your printer it should be moved but otherwise you need it. But maybe you could move it to another table or put it under your desk if you feel like it’s invading your space. It’s good that you notice your tendency to play with things. I have to keep gadgets and trinkets out of reach as well. Especially anything that moves on it’s own…I could stare for hours!

  20. Heady

    Good stuff. Love practical! These are doable and I will give them a shot. Thanks for sharing Chrystal!

  21. Removing physical clutter is huge for me. I have gotten to where I’m not as obsessive about it, as the cleanliness could actually be a procrastination to beginning – but a clean mind and workspace are vital for me.

  22. I’ve been so convicted about clutter in my life recently that this post really slammed into me like a gale-force wind. And that photo. Man, I’d love to work in that space!

    Thanks for some fantastic suggestions. I think I’ll spend the weekend trying to declutter my office. Then my bedroom. Then the kitchen. Then the garage….

  23. That’s awesome Bret! Don’t wear yourself out. :)

  24. So true Cole – “organizing” should be a tool that we use, not something that distracts us from what’s important. Thanks for pointing that out.

  25. My motto tends to be: “one person’s ‘mess’ is another person’s ‘filing system.’”

    What distracts me the most is not knowing where something is. If it’s in front of me, within easy reach, even if it happens to be in what appears to be “clutter,” I’m happy and undistracted. On the other hand, if I suddenly realize that the book I had on the top of the pile next to my right foot has disappeared, I’ll be distracted until I hunt that thing down and put it back “where it belongs,” even if the book has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with what I’m doing at the moment or at any foreseeable moment in the future.

    My wife, on the other hand, has to move stuff from one place to another, eventually stashing it in a box or bag in another bag or box and placed somewhere out of sight, but somewhere she “knows where it is” … given a few days to think about where she may have put it.

  26. Funny … I just shared almost the same phrase, but I was honestly serious about it. For me, everything has its place … even if it’s in the middle of what “normal people” call clutter (or chaos). :-)

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