I’m on a mission.

I’ve been cleaning out closets and drawers all over my house, muttering the words “be ruthless” as I try to decide what stays and what goes. As of yesterday, my hall closet is a mere shadows of its former self. For the first time in umpteen years, I can get a pair of gloves off the shelf without having a virtual storm of hats and gloves and scarves raining down on my head. And the towels and cosmetics in the bathroom linen closet all have their own separate and pristine stations.

Today I’m tackling my “office” – the room I call my own for reading, writing, meditating, and occasionally sleeping (when my husband’s snoring gets out of control). The winnowing process in this room could be painful – after all, this is where my books and notebooks and folders with ideas jotted on scraps of paper all end up.

How do I decide what’s worth keeping and what should be consigned to the circular file?

“The relationship between clutter and creativity is inverse,” wrote Jeff Goins, in a recent blog post titled Your Clutter is Killing Your Creativity. “The more you have of the former, the less you have of the latter. Mess creates stress. Which is far from an ideal environment for being brilliant.” 

Does mess create stress for you?  I know it does for me. Because my personality places a premium on neatness and order, my brain gets fatigued in cluttered environments. When I’m surrounded with haphazard piles of papers and books, I can feel my mind go into a frenzy. Where do I start? What do I look at first? Should I clean up this stack, file these documents?

These kinds of thoughts adversely affect the prefrontal cortex of the brain, the area in charge of executive functioning – the way we apply our thoughts to the completion of goals. When the goal is writing and creative thinking, it’s wise to keep this area of the brain as clutter free as possible.

So I’m off to put my prefrontal cortex to work on a system of organizing and ordering all the creative objects floating around my office space.

How about you? Do you think clutter affects your creative ability? Or do you thrive amidst artistic disarray?

 

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