Are you going slightly stir crazy? I know I am. This is my sixth week in home quarantine.
I’m an introvert who works from home, so I was pretty well-equipped for this! But several weeks without social interaction, dinners out, and canceled events take a toll.
My productivity has been mixed lately. Some days I’m able to write and things flow well, but others are tough. Maybe you’re experiencing the same thing. It’s like a roller coaster with no end in sight. My days are spent working on the computer, taking more zoom calls, and now with more online social time with friends and family—I’m on the computer so much, my eyes hurt! How about you?
So, I’ve been thinking about things to do off-screen such as reading, walking, working out. Surprisingly, I’ve been finding that cooking meals and even cleaning have been a pleasant break from being constantly “on.”
In fact, now may be a brilliant time to declutter, starting with the place in your home where you spend the most time creating. And, if you’re not creating much lately, a way to reboot yourself is to freshen up your space so you can get back to the business of creating.
1. Designate a creative space.
Not all of us have the luxury of having our own home office. So it’s important to seek a space where you can create in privacy. Make it a sacred spot. Perhaps there’s a desk or a special spot at your dining room table where you have a view. Even a cozy spot on your bed (alone) in your room would work. It’s important that this area be the focus of your decluttering efforts.
This is where you start.
2. Start small.
Take any clutter such as paper piles, stacks of books, tchotchkes, and place them into one spot. This is your sorting area where you’ll go through each item one by one. I’m a fan of Marie Kondo’s method of sorting all like things such as books together to decide what you keep. She talks about sparking joy, but I would ask you to consider whether the item still serves a purpose in your life?
Look at each item and ask, “Is this helping me to create or is this draining energy?”
For example, I hung several lists on my wall that were good ideas at the time. One is a list of courses I’d planned to accomplish each month. However, with other priorities in business and life, the courses fell by the wayside (as they do). Still, that unfinished list stares at me every day. It’s adding to the noise and distraction. It’s definitely not feeding my creativity. So it goes in the trash. That’s how you can work through each item.
This is especially important if you’re someone who feels overwhelmed with many things on your to-do list. Clutter can be subliminal. If you make a lot of lists, but then forget about them, it’s important to review and remove what’s no longer relevant.
3. Put things back in place.
After you finish sorting the clutter, you want to end up with a creative space that’s clean and focused. You might spend a few minutes dusting your desk and computer equipment.
Do you have a lot of paper piles? These accumulate for me. It’s important to make a home for the papers you really need to do something about. If you’ve noted an event, schedule it on your calendar. Is it a bill? Pay it. Consider making two piles: one that requires action and another for nice-to-haves. Then, if you don’t work on your nice-to-have list for another week, toss it.
Everything in your creative space needs a home. Store paper and notes in a box, and block time in your calendar to sort through them.
As much as possible, keep things simple. You can keep a long list of to-do items on which you write tasks as they pop into your head, but pick only one or two of those things to tackle per day.
Put things away. Store items you don’t need day to day. As much as possible, limit the items in your creative working space to what you actually need.
As a creative, you probably have many books as I do. Ask yourself whether those books are still serving their purpose. Are you keeping them because they’re your favorites? Are they books you still plan to read? Consider a rotation schedule. If you have a really hard time giving away books, pack half of them into a storage box that you store out of sight. Set a reminder on your calendar for 4 months out and rotate the books. That way you’re still keeping a non-cluttered space while keeping your favorite books, but you’re reducing the clutter.
Afterward, you’ll breathe a sigh of relief when you sit down to create at your clutter-free space. A decluttering effort, even if it’s only for an hour, will help you free some of that pesky stress and anxiety that’s been lingering.
Even if you don’t have a dedicated office space, a few minutes spent tackling the clutter wherever you’re creating can do wonders. A light dusting can reset you. Weird, but true. Making your creative space special by lighting a candle or rearranging a shelf can make it feel extra special with little time.
Did you enjoy this post? You may be interested to read my bestselling book Creating Space to Thrive: Get Unstuck, Reboot Your Creativity and Change Your Life on audio, ebook, and in paperback. It’s all about the mindset and strategies to start something creative.
I’m Courtney Kenney, author and book launch consultant. Like you, I’m on the author’s journey. My focus is to improve my craft, learn new marketing techniques, and sell more books as I grow my authorpreneur business. I want to share what I’ve learned to help you become a more productive and prosperous author.
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