Clutter & Creativity
Take a look around you right now. Look away from the computer screen and scan around you - the surface of your desk or table, now scan farther to look at the rest of the room. Close your eyes and imagine the rooms you can't see from here; particularly the space where you most often work on your creative projects. Take a deep breath and really take in the image. What's the impact?
If you're like me, a reformed pack rat and clutter-magnet (and I think many creative people are), you might even find it difficult to breathe - almost like the piles, mess, unwanted and un-useable items are taking up air. Well, they are!
Clutter, essentially anything you don't need, use or love, affects your creativity on many levels. In your workspace, it's messy and makes it harder to find and use what you need to get your work done. In your schedule, it creates chaos and a feeling of a lack of time. In your mind, it clogs the pathway to your intuition and feeds fear and self-doubt.
In your heart, it blocks out love and peace by hanging onto negative emotions from the past. In your body, it weighs you down by making it harder to take care of yourself and harder to hear the messages your body sends you. In your relationships, it clouds your communication and affects your ability to give and receive.
This article will give you come clues for how to spot clutter in your life, and tips on how to begin clearing it out.
Do you have physical clutter?
1. Do you spend a lot of time looking for things when you're trying to work?
2. Do you feel uninspired, or even dragged down, by what you see around you in your workspace?
3. Does the clutter distract you by reminding you of things you need to do (broken things that need to be fixed, half-finished projects, unanswered mail, unpaid bills)?
4. Are there things in your workspace that you haven't looked at in years?
5. Does anything in your workspace remind you of unpleasant experiences?
Creative energy needs space. While some of the artists I spoke to when writing my book, "The Creativity Interviews" (http://www.genuinecoaching.com/creativity-interviews.html), seemed to thrive in chaos and busy-ness, most equated creative flow with a peaceful serenity surrounded by open time and open space.
Aside from space and freedom from clutter in our "home base" (the workspace where we write routinely), sometimes it's OUT THERE that we actually do our best work. Riding on trains, sitting in cafés or surrounded by nature.
Do you have time clutter?
On any given day:
1. Are there many things you did that you didn't enjoy doing?
2. Are there many things you did that you didn't need to do?
3. Are there many things you did that didn't do you any good (maybe even did you harm)?
The clutter in our schedules can lead to a chaotic life while things just seem to "happen" to us.
Do you have mental clutter?
1. Are you distracted by thoughts while you're trying to write?
2. Do you criticize yourself in your own mind?
3. Do you spend time re-playing conversations or events?
4. Do you spend time speculating about future events?
Sometimes the chatter in our minds is constant and difficult to decipher. Other times there are the same boorish and loud messages over and over again - messages like "You can't do it!", or, "You're no good!". All of them are distracting and make it much more difficult to hear our muse.
Do you have emotional clutter?
1. Do you "brood" about arguments long after they've happened?
2. Do you hold grudges?
3. Do you spend a lot of time focusing on the things in your life that you don't like?
Emotional clutter stems from the same pack-rat habit of not wanting to let go. Instead of hanging onto an old sweater missing a button, it's hanging onto an old emotion. Once an emotion is over, it's over, unless we choose to hang onto it. That's a powerful ability we have - to either stay enraged, sad or anxious over something that happened three days ago, or three YEARS ago, or let go and give ourselves the freedom.
Do you have relationship clutter?
1. Is there someone in your address book that you'd like to let go of?
2. Do you find it hard to concentrate and listen intently to people?
3. Do you find it hard to be open to what other people are offering you (i.e. the appreciation of your audience or a compliment from a friend)?
4. Do you find it difficult to freely give (i.e. to perform without being preoccupied with your own thoughts)?
5. Do you say "yes" to everything that's asked of you?
Sometimes we hold on to broken relationships for the same reasons we hold on to broken things: because we think they can be fixed (and that we're actually going to take the steps to fix them), and because they're familiar and safe.
The clutter in the rest of your life blocks your communication - it's just too hard to listen with your whole heart when there are layers of clutter in the way. This affects your inner listening as well - your ability to tune into your intuition, your "muse". Stage fright is a BIG form of clutter.
Is clutter impacting your health?
1. Are you "too busy" to exercise?
2. Is fast food easier because you can't find your kitchen counter?
3. Do you exhaust yourself with a busy day and then putter around trying to "wind down" until late in the evening?
4. Do you not notice (or pretend not to notice) symptoms of illness or injury until they're so severe that you have to take drastic measures?
5. Do you have a hard time falling asleep because your mind is whirling around or your emotions are surging?
If we're surrounded by clutter and chaos, things like eating vegetables or walking around the block just don't seem do-able or important. And yet if we don't take care of our bodies everything else becomes much, much harder and can lead to fatigue, illness, trouble concentrating, pain, addiction and weight problems.
Tips for Clearing the Clutter
1. If you're serious about tackling your physical clutter, I recommend the book, "Clear your clutter with Feng Shui", by Karen Kingston. She has wonderful ideas for clearing your clutter and also helps you to have a much deeper awareness of how the clutter got into your life in the first place.
2. One simple method to get the physical clutter out is to create three piles (boxes are helpful), labeled: Give away, Throw away and Put away. You can add other categories if you like (i.e. recycling, repair).
3. To quiet down your mental clutter, try writing. In the Artist's Way, Julia Cameron recommends writing three full pages every morning. Find your own method - write to do lists, poems, lists of everyone you're mad at, talk back to your inner critic, write about whatever's swirling around your hear. You can also write down questions for your muse - help with a particular verse or a request for general inspiration.
4. To deal with your time clutter, just say "NO". This is a muscle that might need some exercising. Put yourself and your creative pursuits first - just because you're at home, that doesn't mean you have to be available.
5. If emotional clutter has your heart tied up in knots, practice letting go. Forgiving someone doesn't mean condoning what they've done. It means freeing yourself and being open to positive emotional experiences.
6. To improve your relationship with your audience and combat relationship clutter, think about what they're hoping to get from your performance - maybe to be transported by the music, to be inspired, to have their feelings put into words, to be soothed, to be "rocked", to be energized or to be cradled. You have an enormous power to give them these gifts.
This article was originally published on the Muses Muse Songwriter's Resource website (September 2004) http://www.musesmuse.com.
© Copyright 2005, Genuine Coaching Services. All rights reserved.
Linda Dessau, the Self-Care Coach, helps artists enhance their creativity by addressing their unique self-care issues. To receive her free monthly newsletter, "Everyday Artist", subscribe at http://www.genuinecoaching.com/artist-newsletter.html
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Organize Your Children & Save Your Sanity
It may be difficult to relate saving money with organization but the two terms really go hand in hand. If you are able to organize right down to the smallest detail, then not only will you save yourself countless panic headaches, but you will have more time on your hands allowing yourself to be more productive and get more accomplished.
Four Easy Steps to An Organized Closet
The National Association of Professional Organizers has dedicated January to clean out those closets, but don't wait for January -- now is the time. Exciting this task is not, but by devoting a couple of afternoons this month you can reduce unnecessary search time and you may even find some extra storage in the process.
How To Organize Your Paperwork
Many people have a huge challenge coping with the incoming paperwork. (Whatever happened to the paperless office?).
Memorabilia -- Use It or Lose It!
What do you do with those special items that have been passed down to you? Put them in the hall closet and hope the door will shut? Probably not a good choice for several reasons. First, you are unnecessarily creating clutter; second, if the item is very old and unstable, you will further the aging process; finally, and most importantly, what's the point of keeping these special items if the only time you enjoy them is when you move or get the bug to clean out a closet! This summer my grandmother passed away and I was the recipient of many beautiful things, especially table linens.
Family Management Tip #2: Choosing the Right Organizer for Your Family
What method do you currently use to organize your family? Do you mean my paper calendars or my electronic ones, you ask? If you're like the vast majority of people we surveyed, you're probably using a wall calendar on or near the fridge. And, for portability, you keep the same information on your pocket day planner, which you carry around.
Spruce Your Environment, Spruce Your Spirit
After a long winter, this is the time of year to spruce up your environment with a good Spring Cleaning. It's amazing what doing this can do for one's state of mind.
Give Up Control to Get Control
For some reason, Americans think they have something to prove by doing it all themselves. People say to me all of the time, that someone else just can't do for them, the things that are on the "to do " list.
10 Tips on Color Coding Your Paper: From Chaos to Coherence
Color-There Is No SubstituteIn anatomical illustrations you see the brain's visual system, where the optic nerve is actually 25 times faster than our audio nerves (hearing). No matter which processing style you depend on, 90 percent of the sensory perceptions received by your brain are visual.
Spring Clean Your Life
Spring is here and its time to sweep away the wintertime blues.Have you been hibernating this winter? Well you’re not the only one.
Clutter Campaign - Maintain Your Success
To want in one's heart to do a thing for its own sake; to enjoy doing it; to concentrate all one's energies upon it-that's not only the surest guarantee of success. It is also being true to oneself.
The Magnificent 7: Tips for Cleaning Up Clutter
Clutter is postponed decisions®. Here are some suggestions to simplify the task of controlling clutter:1.
Identifying the Rocks: Organizing Your Priorities
In one of my favorite books, First Things First, written by Stephen Covey with Roger and Rebecca Merrill, is a story of the man in front of his class with a pile of rocks and a jar. He puts the rocks in the jar, and then asks the class "Is it full?" "Yes," they answer in unison.
10 Organizing Tips for Road Warrior Parents
Parenting is always a challenge, but particularly so if your work requires that you travel. Don't be too hard on yourself or on them when you find it difficult.
Three Effortless Ways to Win the Paperwork Battle
Buried under mountains of paperwork from your company? Do the projects seem to never end? Imagine how good you would feel if every day you could start with a clean and organized desk? Well dream no further! By following the three powerful tips listed below, your dreams will become reality!Setting up your system: Start by ordering two 8 ˝ x 11 "flat desk files". A flat desk file looks like an accordion file, except it lays flat on your desk and can be easily carried with you.
Spring into Spring
Hasn't time flown? Already we're into the last quarter of the year and isn't it perfect timing to clear out the cobwebs of winter and prepare yourself for the next few months of sun, sand, surf or is it work, work, work?You know it's time to take action when:You have difficulty finding thingsYour colleagues make comments about your messYou can't see your desk for the messYou cut your fingers in the filing cabinet when you try to dig out a fileYou have to push your body against the cupboard door to close it.The bookshelves are beginning to break because of all the weight.
Finish in Style - Organizing Works!
One of my mother-in-law's many oft-quoted and wise declarations was "Finish in style." It has been on my mind lately, as I contemplate the end of another year, and the end of the first fifty years of my life.
The Natural Law of Attrition
I'm cheap and proud of it.I use and re-use things carefully.
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