Is decluttering for Creatives different, somehow? This is a photo I pinned to represent my ideal office. So far, I have the chair. (And only because the local TJ Maxx had one perched on a display while I was there to find ginger candy. It was waiting just for me!)
The rest of the office — not so easy.
The second law of thermodynamics states that order will, of its own accord, trend toward chaos. And all the Creatives say, “Amen!” I know, I know, there are some of you out there who seem to be both very creative and very tidy. I’m happy and mildly jealous. If that’s you, the rest of this post won’t make much sense. Because, for me, work spaces, bedrooms, yea, entire houses have descended into chaos.
Here are three things that have kept me from sinking in a swamp of half-filled notebooks and piles of pretty pens:
Acceptance of my own tendencies
I vividly remember taking the Myers-Briggs personality assessment during college. It was one of those revelations that hits you right between the eyes. I felt so much relief! It didn’t give me permission to be messy, but it did give me permission to stop trying to be great at everything and feeling guilty when I couldn’t. It’s kind of funny that a cut and dry, multiple choice test had such a profound effect, but I truly believe I would’ve lost my sanity if I hadn’t taken this test…. It was a major revelation. I know, the Big Five is a more accurate picture of personality. But for simplicity’s sake, I still recommend the Myers-Briggs.
After I married, I found this wonderful fly-fishing fairy godmother. Her routines changed my life. I can be zoned into a project without worrying about what I’m wearing tomorrow, what’s for dinner, or whether I forgot to put gas in the car. So much of my brain is freed up when I have those things on autopilot. It makes a huge difference. And–bonus! She feels like a smiling, loving Auntie in my corner, encouraging me to fly.
Marie Kondo’s famous book has a very simple premise: get rid of every item that doesn’t spark joy when you touch it. It took a little while to trust her on this, especially since I seem to have the gift of forming weird, ridiculous attachments to scraps of paper, bits-n-bobs, and ancient craft supplies. It took a book describing the feeling of being surrounded by only loved belongings to get through to me. My clutter is, a lot of times feelings-based. So the spark joy message resonated with me, in a big way. I haven’t made it through the whole house yet, but the areas I’ve tidied using the KonMari Method have stayed tidy, seeming to defy the second law of thermodynamics.
The best system is the one that you actually use…
In the end, I have to be intentional, especially these last few months as I finish my novel. I have to spend time creating words. I am still creating messes, but I do my FlyLady routines, get my daily word quota, then tackle the next mess (paper, ugh) on the KonMari list. That voice? The one that tells me I should clean the whole office so it looks like the photo above, then my novel will just pour out of me like a creative spring? I ignore it. I’ve listened to it before (like when I painted the kitchen during NaNoWriMo). That voice is WRONG.
If you haven’t found a system that works for you, or if even the word ‘system’ makes you cringe, check out these three ideas. Take it slow, or take it fast, but revisit your priorities and get your project quota done first. I’m okay with having dishes and mail on the counter if I’ve moved my novel a few hundred words closer to its thrilling end.
Have you found a routine that works for you? Let me know!
P.S. If you take the test, leave your personality type in the comments.