We need a clear and orderly space to be creative, but our creativity gets in the way of us staying organized. Sound familiar? Organization for creative people is often elusive, but it doesn’t have to be.
Have you ever sat down to work and gotten distracted searching for something you knew you had? Or procrastinated on a project because the tools you needed were harder to find or access than the cat videos that kept stealing your focus?
If this sounds like you, you need some creative organization. These are the 4 most important steps that I employ in my own creative practice to get organized for creative success.
4 Steps To Organization for Creative People
1. Keep your workspace clear
2. Invest in good furniture and sturdy storage solutions
3. Use digital tools to organize digital assets
4. Work on building “decluttering” habits
1. Keep your workspace clear
When inspiration hits, you want to get right to work on your new idea. And you should. That’s the moment when you will make the most headway and see the most momentum on that project.
But you can’t get started on your new idea if you have to stop and clean up after your last idea or activity first!
It happens to me too. I get home and the baby is crying because he wants out of his car seat and the dogs are barking because they want to come inside. So, I drop the five bags I’m carrying on the nearest clean surface intending to come back to them “later”.
But I rarely get back to them later. Instead, they just sit there, adding to the clutter, until I need that space.
Or I’m working on a project and I get interrupted, usually by a child or a phone call, which requires me to turn my attention elsewhere and leave my project unfinished.
Instead of tidying up before I walk away, like I know I should, I leave everything out so I can return to my project “later”. Unfortunately, when it’s time for the next project and I need that space, I end up wasting valuable time and energy cleaning up the mess that I should have cleaned up earlier.
I urge you to learn from my mistakes. Always clear your workspace before you leave it. This may feel tedious in the moment, but it will simplify your life and your projects in the long run.
2. Invest in Good Furniture and Sturdy Storage Solutions
Organization for creative people, like you and me, starts with your furniture. Good storage furniture is a worthwhile investment.
The time and energy you will save knowing exactly where your tools and supplies are will pay for itself.
Plus, flimsy or hard-to-access storage options are usually more trouble than they’re worth. They break, which means you have to spend time and money cleaning up the messes and replacing things. Or, if the storage is hard to access, you avoid using those items or even forget about them altogether.
What is the point of buying tools and supplies if you just lock them away and never use them?
Good storage furniture lasts for a long time and it keeps random items safe, accessible, and hidden from view. In my office, I use several storage solutions from Ikea, but there are plenty of other retailers that offer quality storage furniture as well. Amazon carries a variety of options that can be delivered right to your door!
To organize effectively, you will have to do some research.
First, measure your space so you know in advance what will fit.
Next, list and categorize all the items you plan to store and organize so you know how many shelves and containers you will need. Many retailers change their inventory seasonally, so you may not be able to find that same container later if you discover you need more of that size.
Finally, decide in advance if you would like a specific theme or color coordination. Creative individuals should be surrounded by inspiration, not clutter.
Just a little extra effort will help you find exactly what solutions fit your needs.
3. Use Digital Tools to Organize Digital Assets.
Organization for creative people includes digital assets. Your digital assets are often the most valuable parts of your creative business.
Your writing drafts, art files, and business documents are all important digital files for your creative career and should be stored and organized efficiently.
I have several digital tools I use to keep my projects and files organized.
I categorize and color code my various writing projects in Scrivener. I use Trello to organize my tasks, visual content and many reference resources. And Evernote allows me to scan and tag most of my important documents and hand-written resources.
These solutions allow me to use keywords to search for anything I need. They also make important information accessible to me on multiple devices.
There are several other tools I use to make my business easier to run and automate repetitive tasks such as Zapier, my email marketing software, (you can learn more about these in my post 12 Powerful Email Marketing Tools for Your Creative Business) and several website plugins. These tools save me time and stress.
You don’t have to use the same tools I use to organize your digital assets, but I encourage you to find a system that works for you. There are plenty apps and programs to choose from, and many of them have instructional videos on YouTube to walk you through set up.
4. Build “Decluttering” Habits
Step 4 is probably the most difficult step towards organization for creative people. But its also the one that will help your efforts last.
Good habits make the difference between an organizational system that works and ideas for organization that fall apart.
If you want to keep your office and your life organized and productive, you will need to build strong habits. Without them, you will fight for organization in the beginning but eventually fall back into disarray.
Building good habits means:
- Setting reminders for yourself for things that you know you might forget
- Writing things down instead of assuming that you will remember them later
- Sitting down consistently and planning out your time, goals, and finances.
The sooner you incorporate these habits into your daily life, the more successful you will be in your creative career.
Organization for creative people like you and me doesn’t have to be complicated or overwhelming. These 4 steps may take a little extra work in the beginning, but they will help you surround yourself with inspiration rather than distraction.
Starting a creative practice and running a creative business is hard enough on its own. Why complicate things with disorganization?
Taking a few extra minutes each day to keep things in order will leave you feeling more inspired, more productive, and less stressed.
How do you organize your creative space? Tell me about it in the comments!