Overcoming eight obstacles to a clutter-free creative space, part two by Helen Sanderson
Decluttering guru Helen Sanderson is back on The Daily Stitch today to share the second of her two-part series on how to declutter your creative space to make room for artistic inspiration! Over to you, Helen!
Welcome back to part two of my blog. In part one I shared some expert tips for dealing with four common barriers that can stop people creating a supportive and inspiring space that will help them fulfil their creative potential. These barriers are: feeling overwhelmed and unsure where to start; distraction and procrastination; lack of motivation; and emotional challenges. Read on for some solutions to four more obstacles that people frequently come to me for help with.
5. Start with a clear goal and timescale in mind
Once creative people get going on a declutter project, one of the biggest obstacles is simply not finishing the job. After all, there are usually plenty of far more interesting projects on your mind. Hence the importance of a clear plan and deadline.
A bit like setting off on a journey without a map, having no idea where you’re going or when you need to get there will lead to problems. Of course, there’s a time and a place for following your personal flow, but there’s very little chance it’ll move you to declutter your studio! So, set clear goals and time limits and things won’t drag on and assume a life of their own – rather like that pile of clutter that’s become such a formidable presence.
A word of warning: you may want to clear a mountain in a short period of time, but beware of underestimating how time-consuming the job will be. This can lead to fatigue and depression, set you up for failure and feed your inner procrastinator – all of which are damaging to your self esteem. So, pace yourself.
6. Ditch the all or nothing thinking
Decluttering is about mindfully reconnecting to what you have, not just throwing things away. Try to let go of the belief that you have to let go of everything. This can be a stumbling block that prevents you from starting a declutter project or seeking the help you need from a friend or a coach like me. On the other hand, trying to keep everything can also be a way of defeating your own objectives. Try to be realistic about the need for change.
Think of decluttering your creative space as like weeding your garden. It’s about distinguishing the weeds from the good plants that flower and give you inspiration. Every flower needs space and light and doesn’t thrive in a crowded bed.
Remember, there are many ways to keep things and many routes out of the house or studio, not just the bin. Find ways of letting things go that brings good to yourself or others, such as donating, creating a memory box for loved ones, or putting things up for sale on eBay. Be realistic about how much effort it will take to sell things though, and decide if what you’ll make is worth the time and energy. Plus, if you’re selling or acting on something, remember to set a time limit for doing it. That way it won’t become another source of procrastination.
7. Avoid getting caught up in the details
As a creative person who is drawn to beauty, you probably love creating order and harmony. So, you may find that categorising and sub-categorising your things is the best bit. But don’t do this until you have finished weeding!
Ready, steady, sort! The essence of my process is pretty simple. Take a pile of items from your work area or clear a storage cabinet into a box and set it down in front of you. Then start allocating each of the items to piles. These will be something such as, Keep it, Bin it, Donate it, Recycle, Action it and so on. It’s not rocket science, but how you do this bit is important. You’re going to want to get up and put things away and start to sub-categorise … don’t! Remember this stage is just about weeding. Trust your first instinct or gut feeling when deciding, working swiftly through your things.
As you are about to make lots of decisions as quickly as possible, this is a good time to tell you about one of my top tips: the ‘Don’t know’ pile. It’s not always going to be easy to decide about some things, they will have an emotional pull or need some thinking time. If this happens, simply put the item in a ‘Don’t know’ pile and get back to the weeding process¬. When you’ve cleared everything, come back to your ‘Don’t know’ pile with a fresh mind. Beware though, if the pile gets too big it might be time to go back and remind yourself of your intentions.
8. Find ways to honour your memories without drifting into sentimentality
Once they start unearthing things associated with people and places they haven’t seen for a while, many creatives find themselves feeling sentimental and wanting to hold onto everything. Even though they’ll probably never look at those things again until the next time they have a clear out! See this video to understand a bit more about our attachment to things.
The ‘honouring memories’ cards in my Home Declutter Kit help you deal with items of sentimental value, as these are some of the hardest things to manage. The cards give you some creative and practical ideas on how to retain those special memories in a way that lets you honour what they mean to you, but still get on with your life. This way you can have a creative area with more space that holds your memories without them taking over.
I hope you find these tips helpful. For more tips: watch some short videos here on avoiding 7 common decluttering mistakes.
I’d love to hear what obstacles you find when trying to get organised, and what hidden treasures you’ve uncovered, so please comment and share.
If you need a little more support, visit my website helensanderson.com/declutter and book in for an online mentoring session to get you going.
PS Look out for my up and coming workshops. Register your interest here.