How to Simplify Your Work Space to Improve Creativity

Creative types are messy, right? We get that reputation a lot. When I’m up to my eyeballs in a project, my office can be downright chaotic. Creative people tend to keep a lot of stuff because we see inspiration in even the most mundane things.

As a writer and designer, I don’t think keeping some of those inspirational things around is a bad thing. Sometimes it’s those little trinkets we have hidden away that spark our imaginations.

When the inspiration starts piling up amongst the clutter of daily life so all you can see is a mound of junk, well, that’s when it becomes a problem.

Simplify Your Work Space to Improve Creativity

The Benefits of a Clean, Simplified Work Space

I’ve talked to other writers and artists who are afraid that having a streamlined work area will hinder their creativity, but I don’t think that’s the case at all. Having a clean work area minimizes the visual distractions around you so you can focus on your work.

It gives you more space to actually work, to spread out your notes without knocking over your coffee and stacks of unfiled papers and unfinished projects. That clear work space creates a calmer atmosphere that can reduce your stress and free up your mind for the task at hand. It’s so much easier to focus if your brain isn’t counting off the contents of the clutter or worrying about other important tasks that are sitting in piles around you.

If you’re feeling stuck, taking just a few minutes away from the work to declutter and organize the space around you can help break through any writer’s block you’re having.

“Early in my career I felt that organization would destroy my creativity; whereas now, I feel the opposite. Discipline is the concrete that allows you to be creative.” ~ Verna Gibson

How to Simplify Without Losing Inspiration

Simplifying your work area – whether that’s an office, a desk tucked into the corner or the kitchen table – can give you the peace of mind and blank canvas you need to create your art. How can you simplify while still holding on to some of those precious trinkets of inspiration?

Start by removing everything from your desk or work space. Clean out the dust bunnies and start fresh. Toss or donate items that you don’t use or love, and consider storing away decorations that you’ve been staring at for so long that you no longer even “see” them. Switch to a clearer, sparse design or pull other items from your home that you find beautiful and inspiring to redecorate. Changing up the scenery can work wonders.

Add back only the necessities to start, and pack up the rest. If you find yourself missing a particular item or needing certain supplies, you’re free to go get them back out. You might find you don’t need as much as you thought to work efficiently and effectively.

Take Your Visual Style Into Account

Are you someone who needs to see all the items you have so you don’t forget they’re there? Use clear containers and avoid lids when possible. Try reusing glass jars from the kitchen – they make lovely containers that allow you to see your supplies while keeping them contained . File important papers and action items in a file box or tickler file on or near your desk instead of a closed filing cabinet. Corral notes and papers on a bulletin board by your desk.

Do you feel more comfortable with hidden storage? Keep your supplies in opaque containers – boxes, baskets, old coffee cans. Use closed storage like drawers, cabinets and closets whenever possible. Keep notes and papers in notebooks or on the computer.

Don’t Squirrel Away Your Inspirational Pieces

Create places to store your inspiration where you can use it when you need it. Instead of squirreling away your treasures, hang an inspiration board on the wall or designate a special notebook for clippings, notes and pictures. Dedicate one shelf or one box to corral trinkets, books, memorabilia and other muse-worthy objects.

Do you keep inspirational trinkets to encourage you? How do you store or display your supplies and inspiration pieces where you do your work?

Photo by Suzanne Chapman/Flickr

Recipe: Baked Cabbage and Cheese

Cheesy Baked Cabbage Recipe from Modern Simplicity

This recipe is an approximation of the super yummy cabbage and cheese my grandmother made when I was little — we called it Tutu’s Cabbage and Cheese. I love this stuff so much, I could sit around eating bowlfuls of it!

Tutu’s Cheesy Baked Cabbage

  • 1 medium head of green cabbage, coursely chopped
  • 8 oz sharp cheddar
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • bacon bits or 3-4 slices of bacon, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Put the chopped cabbage in a large stockpot of water with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then boil at a medium bubble for 6-8 minutes. Drain the cabbage well. Next, in a saucepan, melt the butter then add the flour and stir until smooth. Gently add the milk a little at a time, stirring until thickened. Add the cheese and stir until melted. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray, then layer in the cabbage and cheese sauce, ending with a layer of cheese sauce on top. Sprinkle with the bacon bits. Bake at 350F for 45 minutes.

This recipe is part of my online cookbook. Check out the “cookbook” category for more!