The image of the chaotic creative is one that lingers in our collective conscious as a society. The images of the desk piled high with screwed up pages – rejected writings, substandard ideas – and coffee mugs left to colonise new life. But I’m a firm believer that clutter and mess are detrimental to your ability to be creative.
If you could see my desk right now, you’d be questioning under what authority I can even bring this topic up. My overloaded in-tray flows down onto the cluttered surface of a desk piled high with books, pens, my diary, a set of face creams I bought last time I went shopping, a bluetooth rubber ruck speaker and God only knows what else.
It doesn’t stop their either. The room itself is terrible – full of boxes for packaging eBay items, and all the things that were in the spare room, but had to be removed as we started building work in there. Building work that has been stalled for several months now as we wait for a carpenter to become available.
But why does this have such a negative impact on my ability to be creative?
Clutter makes it difficult to locate resources
If the place is a mess, it doesn’t mean it’s an organised mess and I know where everything is. Even if I do know where something is, I’ve probably buried it under so many layers that it’s not easy to find anyway.
Being able to easily lay my hands on the resources I need – be that a specific coloured pen or a reference book, or a charging cable – means I don’t waste valuable time hunting for them. It’s so easy to get distracted when you write, pausing to look for something will not only ruin any flow you might have had, but it’s a gateway to other distractions. Oh, I’ve stopped, I’ll just check Facebook, Twitter, aaaand it’s three hours later.
If it’s not pleasant to work somewhere, you won’t work there
I don’t like coming into this room much – it’s not a nice environment. I take my laptop downstairs and sit in the living room instead. Which inevitably means I end up watching whatever happens to be on the television, or being distracted by other things. The office space is meant to be my sacred space – a place I go to work. If I don’t want to come in here, I know I’m not going to be as productive.
Clear environment, clear mind
I really do believe that minimal living is great for increasing your mental energy. It’s hard work looking at a lot of things. Your brain has to work all the time to catalogue them, identify them, understand them. Busyness is a distraction, and I know that I will start fidgeting with stuff on this desk, playing with it and moving things from side to side, trying to better arrange the clutter before too long. Everything is a reminder of something I need to do (bank book – withdraw some money from my savings account, pirate booty money bank – list some things on eBay, bluetooth rubber duck speaker – take a trip to the bin for heaven’s sake) and every time I look around my mind whirs.
I don’t pretend to speak for everyone – there will be some who can’t think without the clutter – but if you’re like me, then working in a minimal environment will improve your productivity and minimise distractions, allowing you to better focus on the task at hand. I have nothing on my desk at work at all. Nothing.
It’s easier to clean
The less cleaning you have to do, the more time you have for your creative endeavours. Win win!
What’s your working space like?