Thoughts on Clutter and Creativity

Posted July 19th, 2013 by Val and filed in Productivity
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Clutter seems to accumulate wherever I go. Both at my day job and at my writing desk at home, I am pretty much always surrounded by piles of papers. When I write I have a dozen spiral notebooks behind me, and I probably waste an unreasonable amount of time hunting for the right notebook or the right piece of paper.

Much like the time I spend hunting for the right word.

Isn’t attracting clutter and sifting through it part of the creative process?

Clutter and Creativity

I have to say that it seems to me that intelligent people often, if not always, have messy desks.

In fact, Albert Einstein was known for having a messy desk, and he has been quoted as saying, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”

I know some extremely intelligent people who are usually surrounded by piles of paper as high as the piles surrounding me, so I think I am in good company. Personally when I start putting my piles away or into neater piles, I start to be confused and waste even more time trying to figure out where things are. Although I appear to be extremely disorganized, I usually have a pretty good idea where the most important papers are.

The key word, of course, is “usually”.

There are times when my cluttered ways are a definite handicap. I write notes on scraps of paper that I may never see again. Although what I’m working on at the moment is usually at my fingertips, sometimes it is in one of those notebooks. Somewhere. The question is which one?

Conquering Clutter

In March of 2012, my family had a house fire and I lost a whole lot of paper. It certainly led to a revelation that a lot of what I had been hanging onto turned out to be just “stuff”. Stuff that I completely don’t miss.

Jeff Goins recently wrote on the topic of clutter, and he makes the point that enough clutter needs to be cleared away to allow you to create. Although I prefer to work surrounded by clutter, there is a little voice inside me trying to get my attention and letting me know that my messy desk isn’t really helping me to be creative.

So what’s the solution?

I read a short book today called Clutterfree. It definitely gave me food for thought as to why I hang onto my piles and how to reduce them, if not eliminate them. Clutter can be conquered either a little at a time – like ten minutes a day – or all at once.

I think I have to lean toward a little at a time.

But it’s a place to begin.

photo by: gadl
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