Creative vs. Organized

Photo courtesy of Practical Psychology

Should the title be “creative vs organized” or “getting your left and right brain to get along?”

Your left brain controls things like analytical thinking, numbers, language, reasoning, logic, science and math. The right brain controls emotional intelligence, imagination, expression, art awareness, intuition and creativity.

Most people feel they are mainly one or the other. Because I own an art store, I tend to see many people who are more right-brain oriented. This is also referred as “fantastical.”

Fantastical, or right-brain people, like to have everything in front of them. If something is filed in a traditional file drawer, it is “gone” to them because they cannot visually see it. Thus, they often have a messy desk! These people can become frustrated with themselves because they often can’t find things. They do not put things back where they came from because they have not even decided where they belong in the first place!

Everyone has both sides of their brain, but one side is more dominant than the other. You can work on developing the less-dominant side of your brain, if you choose. Just don’t get into the mindset of “I am not creative” or “I just am not organized.” This article is designed to help creative people get organized.

Organization, among other things, is a work skill. To be efficient and productive, you need some organizational skills. Here are some things you can do:

  1. Think about why you don’t put something in a file and in a drawer. You may be one of those people who need to see things visually and need a different kind of filing system. It does not have to be the traditional system of folders and drawers; it can be stacks. Some suggest using the back side of your desk for this purpose, but I feel computers make this technique impossible. Get a shelf behind you or beside you — someplace where you can see it and make your stacks. Keep the stacks only for active projects. Once a project is done, move it into a traditional file cabinet, a storage box or the trash. You can also use organization bins. Again, remove them when the project is done. You might even have shelves or bins for projects that never end and a shelf for a one-time project.
  2. When you store things on a shelf or in a closet, do not put things in front of one another unless they are shorter. If you hide them, they are as good as gone.
  3. Have a banker’s desk and keep it as clear as possible. Look at what is on your desk. Does it need to be there? If not, where else could/should it be? If where they belong is not working, ask yourself why. If I hate (and don’t) put something away, is it because it is not a convenient place? If you set up your “shelf file” and then don’t use it, is it because you have not made it reachable. If you must get up to put something away, it will probably stay on your desk.
  4. You can also apply the banker’s desk theory to your work bench. Have a place for everything and make yourself stick to it. I have a very talented artist friend who often works for me. She said, “My goal is to get as organized as you are. I am so sick of hunting for something I just put down.” Put up a peg board or get some bins. Give things a function and then use them.
  5. Make the organization part of your workday until it becomes automatic. Decide if you are going to start your day putting things where they belong or end your day that way. You might also want to spend time working on organization before or after lunch. You will start to enjoy your efforts when the scissors are right within reach, and your favorite pen you use to write checks is easy to find. You will start to appreciate the fact that when you get the urge to work on a project, everything is in one spot.
  6. We all accumulate scrap paper – but throw the tiny pieces away. Tiny pieces of paper get mixed in with larger pieces of paper and get lost. Scrap is scrap, so dispose of it properly. Only use big sheets.
  7. There are lots of techniques for note taking. Let’s say you are in a meeting and you will cover a variety of topics. The worst thing you can do is take the notes all on one piece of paper. One of my techniques is to write my to-do list from the meeting on the upper-right corner of my agenda. When I am done the meeting, I can tear that list off and staple it to my daily list I am working on. Or I can just use the agenda and start ticking them off. I don’t have to go searching through my notes to see what the action items are that I need to get done. If you are taking information notes, use a separate sheet for each topic and give it a heading. When you are done with the meeting, you can put that sheet with your file on that topic. Again, you are not wading through a sheet of notes to find what you are looking for, and that makes your life much easier.

Everyone has both sides of their brain. Use them both!

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