How to be Creatively Organized (Part 2)

I won’t make the case for being over-the-top organized. I’m not, and I don’t think that I should change to be so. Trying would likely stress me out as much as my “mess” wouMagifyer 2ld stress out the person who is meticulously organized. However, I’ve talked to several writers, artists and creative people who want to improve in this area.

It’s important to try different ideas and build your own system. Organizing doesn’t work if you simply squeeze yourself into someone else’s program. For example, if you like to leave reference items out until you’re finished with a project, don’t change it because some guru chimes “Put everything away at the end of every day.” Instead clean off your desk when your project is finished so you can start new. Here is a “novel” way to get started.

Be Sherlock Holmes

Before you make sweeping resolutions about how you’ll organize so much better this year, do some serious detective work. Think through an ordinary day. Observe Sherlock bookyour work areas. Take notes and figure out where your problem areas are. For example: Does clutter accumulate in one central area?

This could be because you’re tired when you come home and put everything on your table or desk. Establish a special place for important things like files, keys, and mail.

Do you forget dates? Creative people often lose track of chunks of time and  have some difficulty with dates.

If you want to remember birthdays or an important meeting, you can try marking your calendar a week before the date (such as, “send card by today – Tues. the 5th” or on Monday you could note, “Important meeting on Thursday – call today to verify.”) This way, an important date won’t sneak up on you.

Once you’ve gatheredWriting-sherlock-How to organize your information, then you can make a list of simple, small steps to start a new habit.

Enlist Scotland Yard

It may or may not be possible to enlist others around you to help you in your efforts. Informing them of your goals will at least increase the chances that they won’t try to work against you.

Determine a time to put on your uniform and become a “clutter cop.” It could be once a week or once a day. Don’t make it a long shift. 15-30 minutes of focused time can accomplish a lot. Take time to put items away, throw out trash, and attend to other things you’ve identified on your list. Don’t let it become overwhelming by trying to do it all at once. Complete one task or area at a time.

Put the criminals behind bars

Through careful reasoning, you’ve identified some “criminal” habits. Before you take off your uniform, look over the list of areas you needed to work on and give yourself an evaluation. Did you do better than last week?Writing -Jail- How to organize

The goal is not to become someone else, but rather to have more control over your time, your space, and reduce frustration in your areas of difficulty. If you’ve moved forward in your goals, then give yourself an A+. In the beginning, you have to think about new ideas, but after a while the habit does the work for you. You’ll suddenly look back and realize you’ve made the changes in thinking that were necessary. I mentioned in the previous post that it takes 2 or 3 weeks to establish a productive habit, and about 6 months to unlearn a destructive one. It takes patient and persistence.

Let’s help each other out. What has worked for you? Please, share it below.

Related: Why Creative People Need to be Organized (Part 1)

Organize: 5 Ways in 15 Minutes a Day

Writing - Sherlock - How to organize

Wikimedia-Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock

P.S. Yes, this post came about because I’m excited about the new episodes of Sherlock on PBS. As they say, check your local listings.

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12 comments on “How to be Creatively Organized (Part 2)
  1. Peter, you managed to express what I’ve felt about organization. I find I have to be organized in order to be creative, yet being organized is a battle. I’m trying to do small easily repeatable steps. Praise myself when it works and not beat myself up when it doesn’t. Your term ‘clutter cop’ is a bit intimidating even though I like the concept. So a few times a week I will ‘enhance and beautify’ my creative environment. Best of luck to you in staying organized.

    • Jillian, good to hear from you. As I said in the post, it is important to find what works and what motivates you. Enhance and beautify would intimidate me. :) But if that’s works for you…use it. Best to you as well.

  2. Reblogged this on Mandy Eve Barnett's Official Blog and commented:
    More thoughts on clearing your space

  3. dmswriter says:

    Your thought of not squeezing ourselves into someone else’s program is right on target. I’ve tried that, and only felt disappointed when I didn’t become a model of efficiency. Two things that really work for me are, like you suggested, short periods of cleaning up and organizing. The second thing I do is keep two calendars. One is a paper, month-by-month kind where I can write down long-term activities or goals. The second is just a small notepad where I write every day’s activities. Crossing them off keeps me on track and provides a sense of accomplishment. I know many use digital devices, but the methods I use work for me, simply because I can see a larger chunk of time at a glance.

  4. I like the idea of getting in touch with individual habits and what already works before trying any changes to get organized. I absolutely have to leave out the things needed for any current project. Out of sight is definitely out of my mind. I also like the idea of putting on a uniform (imaginary is fine) and being a clutter cop for 15 minutes a day ( or a week or whatever – even one session is better than nothing) Great post.

    • Thank you Francis. These are things I’ve learned over time by trying a lot of things that didn’t work so well. Glad to know you’re like me in being visual. Some people feel comfortable with everything put away somewhere, but most of the time I like to have a few things out.

  5. Erica says:

    I was really looking forward to this installment and it doesn’t disappoint. :)

    Something else to consider: a lot of daily messes are the accumulation of small acts and moments of moving stuff to where it doesn’t belong. You can clean the same way. Going to another room? See if there’s something on your desk or table that belongs in that room and carry it there while you’re heading that way. Since you’re going that way anyway, may as well. It adds up.

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