Does a messy workspace help or hinder our creativity, our productivity? Some argue a messy workspace is a sign of creativity. This may be true. However, a messy workspace isn’t the creative’s Nazirite vow. Being organised won’t destroy our creativity in the same way that a haircut took Samson’s strength. Don’t confuse chaos and creativity
More Than Just a Messy Workspace
A messy workspace isn’t the point of course. But is a messy workspace a symptom of an underlying problem? There are other indicators. For instance, do you find yourself double, or even triple booked? Likewise, are you often completing tasks in a panic, even though you’ve known about them for weeks? If this the case, a messy workspace isn’t a sign of creativity. Instead, it shows a lack of organisation
Expect a Little Chaos
As we all know, the creative process is not a straight line between A and B. Consequently, is a little chaos to be expected? After all, methodical, systemic, process-driven output is the stuff of other professions. Allowing our thoughts to wander, unfettered, certainly helps our creativity. On the other hand, having to search for what we need, the time of next client meeting, definitely doesn’t
The Effect of Chaos
It’s estimated that we spend 20-30% of our working time looking for the things we need. But lost time isn’t the biggest impact of chaos. Moreover, looking for things, digitally or physically, breaks our creative flow. Or worse, the search distracts our attention away from what we’re doing. Above all, our energy is drained by the stress managing our chaos. In short, chaos stifles our creativity
Make a Small Investment
When it comes to chaos, the best thing you can do is avoid it. And it only takes a small investment:
- Keep your most needed tools for an activity in one place. To use a baking analogy, keep your wooden spoon with the scales. Not mixed up with the other utensils
- If you don’t use it, box it. It might be too much to bear to throw things away. But if you’re not regularly using it, get it out of sight
- Use activity check lists. Have everything ready upfront so you can focus on your task. This way you won’t be distracted, mid-thought, by searching for that missing item
- Maintain a to-do list. Stop tasks becoming urgent purely due to oversight. They help reduce stress levels. And can be an early warning signal if you’ve taken on too much
- One diary. Not separate diaries for social, work etc. If you share your diary you can always mark personal appointments as private, so only you know what they are
Conquer Chaos, Release Creativity
In summary, don’t confuse chaos with creativity. Instead, get the most out of your creative energy. Keep those tools you need most close to hand. Spend a moment to tidy up. Keep up with what needs doing. Check your diary before you agree to the next meeting. It’ll mean less stress, more energy. More importantly, your creativity will soar!
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