Clutter and Creativity

It’s been a crazy summer and now that I have time to catch my breath, I notice that I’ve accumulated a lot of clutter.  Everywhere.  My workspaces are filled with things that aren’t tools or things to draw on.  My desk is piled high with miscellaneous books, papers, and things I just threw on top of the pile to deal with later… and now it’s no wonder I haven’t had the creative urge to make things.

Jonathan Fields blogs about there might be a neurological basis for why clutter zaps creativity. It has to do with our brains craving organizational systems.

Without organizational systems, your brain has to work harder to hold virtual organizational structures in its circuitry, relying on greater levels of working memory. This taxes a part of the brain known as the prefrontal cortex (PFC).

In other words, in the absence of organization, your brain gets stressed out and anxious and this hinders its ability to problem-solve and be creative.

There ARE solutions.

In my case, cleaning the clutter from my office and art tables is a good start.  Having a clean surface and my art supplies nearby makes drawing and painting so much easier.

It’s not easy clearing away clutter.  After all, I thought it might be useful at one time — which is why I threw it on my pile to be dealt with later.  The problem is that when later comes, the pile of things that might be useful has become a daunting mountain of things I don’t want to look at.

This may not be the best approach, but it’s what’s working for me.  I took the pile of things to be considered off my workspace and into a box.  I decided that I’ll never have time for the periodicals so they are being recycled.  What’s left is much more manageable and I’ll sift through it for about a half hour a day until everything has been paid attention to and put in a logical space.

Although, a clean desk is not necessarily an invitation to creative work…. as soon as I cleaned off my desk, my cat leapt on it and spread out and launched into a deep nap… no work can be done…. at least for now….


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2 Responses to Clutter and Creativity

  1. I thought I’ve heard of the name “Jonathan Field” before but initially I mistaken him with “Jonathan Mead” of Illuminated Mind instead.

    A cluttered workplace really seems to sap my thinking energy and caused an unnecessary stress. This morning, my first task it to declutter this mess on my table.

    • admin says:

      I heard about Jonathan Fields in a book review on another blog, Late Bloomer. The book title was:
      Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance — looks like an interesting book. When I checked out the author’s blog, I found a post on creativity and clutter — which spoke to my situation this morning.

      I’ll have to check out Jonathan Mead when I get the chance. Thanks!

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