Chaos: Does it generate or block creativity?

Chaotic PaperclipsWhen I was growing up, being organized came easily. I had a great memory. My mind was like a steel trap!

I learned what I needed to for tests seemingly without effort – almost like I had a photographic memory. I memorized my schedule … where I needed to be and when, including all my dance classes and as time passed on, my work schedule too ( I started working part-time jobs as soon as NC allowed, at 14). My room was mostly clean (while not all that small, it was pretty packed with furniture, which made it not exactly conducive to messes). And I never missed a single assignment in school. I was always on top of it!

Because organization and all-in-my-head planning had always come so naturally to me, it was a totally oddity the first time I had to start making an effort to organize and plan my life in advance. I was used to just going with the flow … showing up when I needed to be somewhere and doing work as it was assigned.

But when adulthood arrived, there was less sense of innate order and the more I pursued being self-employed and pursuing acting full-time, the less innate structure there was in my life. It was up to me to create that structure and that terrified me.

You see, I tend to identify organization and structure with being a straight A student, not with being a successful creative artist. To the extent that I convinced myself that the only way to shift into life as a successful actor was to complete abandon all my previous ways of being. 

Little did I realize, that I had just found a really cunning way to block myself as an artist. As the piles of paper increased, as I did less cleaning, less ironing, less balancing of my checkbook, less planning of goals, and less follow through, my internal chaos began to match my outer chaos.

Even though I suspected that decluttering might actually help my creativity, I was simultaneously terrified to try. What if I failed or discovered that I couldn’t be creative and organized at the same time? Or what if all that organization and planning didn’t leave me with time to do anything of the things I desired? Wouldn’t all that be time better spent taking action rather than thinking and planning the actions that I’m taking?

In spite of all my reservations, I finally dove back into the clutter (inner and outer) and started making some real headway. I’m starting to see the floor of my office again, I no longer have 3 piles of receipts to enter into Quicken, and I’m spending less time in general overwhelm.

Funny, I now recognize that the battle I’ve been having with organizational systems was actually preventing me from using my time and resources effectively and as a result, also preventing me from having the time to prioritize my creative endeavors.

My goal for the end of 2014? To finally get through all of this mess and to make my office an organized sanctuary for myself as an artist as I move into the new year.

What about you? Are you an organizational wizard or do you find yourself fighting against it? Perhaps there is an area of your life where you could bring in a greater sense of organization and feel more free. Have you conquered your organizational demons? I would love to hear about the solutions that work for you. Can’t wait to read your comments below!


PS: Sign up for blog updates here, and I’ll update you on my decluttering before the year is over. Plus, I’ll share other useful tools, figurative and literal, to help you bolster your own creativity and productivity.

2 Responses to Chaos: Does it generate or block creativity?

  1. Analisa says:

    It’s funny how organizing, prioritizing, and balancing are crucial to functioning in everyday life! I’m leaning the hard way too! My goal for the end of the year? I don’t know yet, but I think I’m going to plan it now! Hahaha Thanks Natalie. :)

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