Creative People are Messy! 5 Easy Steps To De-clutter Your Creative Space

04 March

How to de-clutter in 5 easy steps

If you are a messy creative person like me then you will relate to this. My creative space is a mess most of the time; I have trouble finding what I am looking for when working on projects; and my work area has been crowded out and reduced to an almost non-existent state by the piles of unfinished projects, unopened supplies, and just… stuff!

Is that you too? Then keep reading because you NEED this post!

After I shared my cleaned up, organized, and de-cluttered craft studio (see Craft Studio Reveal – Part I and Part II) many of you commented that your own creative spaces needed de-cluttering and cleaning up as well!

So I thought it might help if I shared my process for de-cluttering.

But before we get down to the nitty-gritty, know this:

Creative people are messy! Embrace your messiness, it is part of who you are and you’ll just have to take time out once in a while to clean up!

Psychologist Frank X. Barron did a study in the 1960’s to figure out what makes highly creative people different from the rest. And he found that the most common traits of creative people are:
"an openness to one’s inner life; an unusually high tolerance for disorder and disarray, the ability to extract order from chaos, independence, unconventionality, and a willingness to take risks". (source)
To describe this mishmash of traits, Barron wrote and I quote:

Let that sink in for a minute!

The creative genius is occasionally crazier and yet adamantly saner than the average person.

Knowing and accepting this about yourself; do not feel like you have failed or are inadequate in some way just because you cannot keep your creative space in order! It’s just how we are wired! :o)

Don’t compare your space to the pretty craft room pictures you see in magazines and online. Those are beautiful and inspiring but they are not like that all the time! They have been tidied, cleaned, arranged, decorated, and staged! (Just like that hamburger on the fast food restaurant menu that looks so plump and juicy… and then they hand you a tiny, smashed mess in a greasy bag).

To make the process of organizing and cleaning up your space a little easier on your crazy, creative mind you need a process to follow when it’s time to clean up!

So here is the method I follow.

5 Easy Steps to De-clutter Your Creative Space

Step One - Designate boxes and/or bags for sorting.

  • Donate - (donations to thrift shops or other charitable organization
  • Trash - (garbage… plain and simple)
  • Sell - (resell on eBay, Etsy, or Craigslist)
  • Relocate - (relocate to another more appropriate space in your home, or someone else's home!)
  • Keep – (everything that you will keep and put back into your creative space)
Once you put something into one of these boxes or bags do not take it back out unless it is to move it to a more appropriate pile (i.e. move from the donate box to the sell box).

Step Two - Ask yourself these questions as you are going through your stuff:

1.      Have I used it in the last 6 months to a year?
2.      Does it have meaning to me? Do I love it?
3.      Am I keeping it just in case (in case I think of the perfect project, in case I find the missing part, etc.)?
4.      Is it easily replaced?

Go through one area at a time completely until that area is done. So in my craft studio I went through one furniture piece at a time... the dresser, a bookshelf, etc. until I had sorted through everything in/on that piece and finally, everything in the room.

If you are having a hard time deciding whether to keep or let go of a particular item set it aside into an “I don’t know” pile and move on. Come back to it later and you may find it will be easier to decide.

Step Three - Once a piece of furniture is empty, clean it! You will be more likely to pay closer attention to what is going back if the area is sparkling clean!

Step Four - Reconsider some items you originally decided to keep. 

Sometimes as I'm reorganizing and putting things away I find myself walking around the room with an item in my hand trying to find a spot for it... it won't fit here... won't fit there... maybe it’s not meant to be… it’s time to reconsider and go through the questions again... have you used it in the last 6 months to a year? Does it have meaning to you? Do you love it? Are you keeping it just in case? Is it easily replaced?

You may decide that you don't need it after all!

Step Five - Once you are done filling these boxes get rid of them as soon as possible… before you start taking stuff back out of them! Donate the donate box, throw out the trash box, list the items in the sell box, and put away the items in the relocate box.

In conclusion, learn to accept and embrace the fact that creative people are messy people. When it comes time to clean-up and de-clutter your creative space follow the 5 simple steps: 1) designate sorting areas, 2) ask yourself the 4 simple questions above to determine whether you will keep each item, 3) sort each area of the room and then clean it, 4) reconsider some more difficult items, and 5) get rid of the sorted piles.

But just accept the fact that you will probably have to do this again, and know that the next time will be easier because you have a method… a method to your madness you creative genius you!! :o)

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  1. I recently rearranged my studio; now it works so much better for me. But, a lot of the stuff I took out is in my sitting room. I will use your 5-step method to help winnow down my studio excess. Thanks for the good ideas!

  2. Excellent advice! I'm too easily distracted by what i find when de-cluttering and end up starting some project that the item i find was intended for! LOL! Maybe i'm where the ADD gene started! LOL!

  3. After reading your posts, I did declutter one area, but made another messier. I am either a DIY slob or a creative genius. Pinning ans sharing!


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