Originally Published March 9th, 2019
I’ve been spending a lot of time lately clearing out clutter & organizing my creative space. People who are high in trait openness (creative) are generally low in trait conscientiousness—hence the cliche of the insane artist who lives like a slob. However, I’m an oddball because I’m high in openness and conscientiousness. In the whirlwind of daily creative activities—I still find myself making messes.
Whether you’re a natural born slob or a highly neurotic perfectionist who still creates messes—here is a list of why you should keep your creative space clean & decluttered.
We’re much more productive when our tools are accessible. If I’m running from one end of my creative space to the other, back & forth, searching high and low for lenses, filters, batteries, chargers, lens caps, reflectors, light stands, laptop, charger, red headed models, & non-alcoholic beer—I’m not being as productive as I could be. It’s best to have a place for every tool—not hidden under an intimidating pile of clutter.
One thing I’ve noticed since organizing my desk area is that I’m able to do more work simply by having access to the things I need. For example I’ve organized my photo catalog so that I’m able to quickly access labeled files & folders. No more digging into giant subfolders with names like “FUJIX100 NOVEMBER”—good luck guessing what’s in there.
Tim Ferris has a saying about clutter. It’s like having 100 tabs open on your internet explorer. Ashley had a ton of tabs open recently while planning a trip. It made her computer crash.
Having clutter everywhere in your creative space means you’re waisting tons of mental energy in the background. You may not be aware of it but it’s there—sucking away memory & computing power that could be allocated towards other important tasks.
Do yourself and your brain a favor—clear away the clutter—close down all the tabs you’re not using.
Excessive clutter causes stress. For example, my photography closet was so packed with junk that I couldn’t even open the door without something crashing out and knocking me senseless. That’s stressful. The situation got so bad that I just stopped using the stuff that was in there.
There were times when I would set out to tackle the problem but it was overwhelming. Letting clutter creep in only gets worse over time—until you can no longer open doors. Clutter causes inaction which leads to doubt and stress.
Stop the clutter before you’re too stressed to do something about it.
Sell your crap. You don’t need it. Use the money to buy something you do need. Look around your studio and identify the tools that you haven’t used in 6 months—a year. Sell them. Now you can buy that lens you’ve been drooling over, the new paint kit, or maybe just another 6 pack of alcohol free Heineken.
I’m not perfect and I know I can’t keep everything tidy & clean at all times. The point of this writing is to act as a reminder that clutter is the enemy. In my experience, a clean work area is a productive work area. That’s a goal that I’m working towards and it’s helping me achieve my greater goal of creating daily.
Do yourself and your creativity a favor—simplify & declutter.
I hope you find some inspiration to get organized and create more.
Thanks for reading!