I’m standing in front a group of professionals, introducing myself.
“Hi! I’m Suzanne Holsomback and I’m a professional organizer.”
Then it happens – the exasperated laughter, chuckling, grimacing or the “I NEED YOU IN MY LIFE” exclamation accompanied by the squeeze-the-air-out-of-my-lungs bear hug.
I know why people shake their heads or cling to me like the last life vest left on the boat – they are thinking about that space, that closet, that craft room that really can’t be used for creating since the unused treadmill, children’s school papers, and holiday décor took over the room three years ago.
My very existence reminds people that few of them are as organized as they would like to be or need to be.
Being organizing physically and mentally takes an organizing system that is tailored around you. No matter if you are the busy mom of four with a thriving photography business or the moody Dutch painter who cuts your ear off – organizing isn’t something that is out of your reach. It isn’t something that has to stifle creativity.
In what follows, I will flesh out how you can be an organized creative by redefining “balance” then giving some useful tips on how you can act on your new idea of “a balanced life.”
Everything in Balance
Balance. I used to think of balance as feeling like everything was in harmony and “going right.” But that “balance” is really control.
People need control in their lives. You need to feel like you can make decisions, to act, to influence your own life, and that is totally normal.
Balance is really when different aspects of you do not dominate and stifle the others. Where each aspect has space to grow, be expressed, find fulfillment, and be appreciated.
For instance, your social life/life away from the kids/I-need-a-grown-up-conversation side needs time and care as much as your thriving organic goat’s milk soap company does. They may not require the same amount of time, but the same level of care. This is balance.
When balance and control are compounded, organizing feels ridge, uniform, like something that kills all creativity. However, when balance is understood as equal care of all your unique parts, then being organized doesn’t stifle creativity, just the opposite happens. Being organized allows creativity to have a space to flourish and thus creativity allows organization to be beautiful, unique, and whimsical.
3 Ways to Get Balanced
1. Give Yourself Space to Create
And by space, I mean the physical space to work, the mental space to focus, and the time to allow for your creative juices to flow unhindered. All three of these things are essential in being creative and being in balance.
Let’s think of an example – paperwork. If mountains of papers now live on your cutting board and sewing table, then you will continually have to move piles around, those piles of paper charge the environment with stress/anxiety/guilt, and dealing with all that paper take away from your design time!
Solution: a good paper management system in which you can keep your creative space clear (or clear it quickly), so the space allows you that mental place of peace and your time is used for creating, not cleaning.
2. Have an Organizing System
An organizing system is the method you use to store your belongings; it gives your items a “home.” This allows you to know where your items are, how much you have of something (money saver!), and then affords an easy clean up since everything can go back to “it’s home.”
Let’s say you are a painter. Your workroom is filled with magazine clippings, photos, and paint supplies to the point where the inspirational bits overrunning your drawers, walls, floors, cabinets, and mental space.
Solution: work zones in which you have a corkboard for current inspiration, a filing drawer that holds tickler files for future projects, and a dedicated space for paint supplies, then a specific area for painting.
3. Maintain the System
Yes, there is always maintenance involved in organizing, but once that “to pay” stack of bills has a home, you always know where the bills go, so you don’t have to think about where to put them or have to keep moving them around from pile to pile and room to room.
This is also really helpful if your creative space is a multi-use space. For instance, you are a poet and utilize your dining room table for digitizing your scrawled brilliance and editing your volume for printing.
Maintaining your organizing systems stores personal bills for action or archive and allows you to use your table to shape your work. It then also lets your work to be contained at the end of the day, so you can eat at your table and not be stalked by that one stanza that just doesn’t work in your final poem.
Being an organized creative is something you can achieve through rethinking “balance” and granting yourself the care that every side of you needs. True balance with a good space, organizing system, and maintenance routine will keep you organized and allow your creativity to take flight!