Organizing as a Creative Act


organizing as a creative act

Organizing Creatively – Transforming the Chores of Life into Joyful Activities

When contemplating the mess of papers on your desk, the pile of clothes in the corner, or your chaotic kitchen pile that just never seems to rectify itself, what are some of the impediments to organizing? Lack of time is one for me, given my long commute and well, there just never seem to be enough hours in the day. Being a human is a lot of work. Cooking, cleaning, traveling, working, and maintaining oneself in those ways we need to, just to present each day, is all a lot to manage.

The other thing is that hump one must jump to get to the start/go point. “Just do it,” doesn’t always work for me, nor does a high energy song, dancing in the living room, or the promise of something slathered in peanut butter as a post-organizing reward. I try all kinds of motivators, but there always seems to be something else getting in the way.

I’ll be honest, there’s always a juvenile and self-sabotaging little voice that says, “organizing is boring. I would rather play.” I would rather visit my friends on social media, go for a walk, talk on the phone, watch a good movie, go shopping, hang out with the neighbors, read a book, space out with a cup of coffee, or do nearly anything but clean. Also, I’m a creative person, and I really want to spend my little bit of free time on creative endeavors.

Even if you are not a creative person, maybe you can relate – especially when you spend the majority of your life at work (and I know being a homemaker is also a TON of work – often more than a full-time job). Time is precious. Life is precious. So if keeping clean and organizing can be a full-time job and you already have one, how do you manage? How do you get motivated? And how do you overcome that tantalizing and relentless little voice that keeps saying, “This is boring. Let’s play.”

But here’s the thing, ORGANIZING CAN BE A CREATIVE ACT. Yup, it’s true. And the more chaos you have, the MORE CREATIVE opportunities there are. No, I’m not pulling your leg. If you can’t make the leap from tedious tasks to creative acts, consider this: Creativity is bringing order to randomness and there is a fine line between chaos and order.

In Understanding Creativity, Jane Piirto quotes teacher Al Hurwitz on the creative process: “Art functions as an extended conversation between form and imagination.” How can this translate into organizing your home? Well, keeping a home is a continual conversation between you and your belongings about your vision of how you want your home and life to be.

Whether that conversation exists within a “Marie Kondo” construct – i.e., asking yourself if your possession “sparks joy,” or in a more complex assessment of where you are at in your life and how that relates to your belongings (read our Organizing for the Spirit Book Review), having this dialogue is integral to the creative process.

I once had a painting instructor who said she needed her studio to be a mess because it induced an agitated state that was conducive to creativity (“creating” being a way of establishing some order, if not in the room, then on a canvas). Certainly there are artists who have different working methods and standards, but there is, in fact, a strong relationship between creativity, chaos and order.

This is not to say that in order to clean and be organized, you must first create chaos. The important takeaway is that the process of organizing is akin to creating art and can be approached with a similar attitude.

So what is creativity? It’s a hard thing to nail and scientists are continually questioning the process, but one thing for certain is that it involves divergent thinking, multiple solutions, unconscious thought processes, and a unique approach to problem solving. For people who are not creative (and this is not a criticism), how-to guides may be just what you need for organizational motivation, as they give you instructions and methods of doing things. Certainly, blogs, books and Pinterests boards are great for sparking ideas for creatives and non-creatives alike.

What does creative organizing look like? Well, it could involve developing your own unique organizing methods to suit your style of dressing, crafting, cooking and so on. Does organizing with color appeal to you? You might want to check out our Psychology of Color article.

Are you handy and do you enjoy crafting? Building, repurposing and even just painting dressers, shelves and other storage systems might be a fun way to engage your inner artist. Whether you make it yourself or purchase readymade storage products such as plastic totes or freedomRail shelving or closet systems, designing your storage to fit your lifestyle is fun and potentially fulfilling and creative.

Incorporating decorating into your organizing is another way to activate your creative brain. Color, shape and texture are sure to get those synapses firing as you explore multiple possibilities for harmonizing and marking your environment.

If you have kids, approaching cleaning and organizing their toys and room from a creative standpoint is a great way to motivate them. Sure, you can establish rules and methods and locations, but if you partner with them to creatively devise personalized systems based on their own play preferences (with a little guidance, of course), it will likely engages them on a deeper level and encourage them to do it independently on an ongoing basis.

Locker organizing stands out as something kids love to do and it’s a fabulous way to express themselves and stand out from the crowd. An organized locker is conducive to good study habits and creating a “signature” locker makes the activity all the more sweet. Shelves, hanging storage and magnetic accessories are available for making standard lockers more useful, and the sky’s the limit for decking them out (think photos, collages, printed papers, fur and more). Combining the decorating and organizing tasks makes it a fun activity, and your child or teenager can enjoy all the benefits.

If you are an artistic personality, other people’s organizing solutions may not suit your need for individuality, or satisfy your desire for self expression. This is where you need to be able to tap into those creative reservoirs and apply that energy to your environment. If you find doing creative painting in the kitchen each weekend, maybe it isn’t a sin to repurpose a portion of the Hoosier cabinet to art supplies? After all, rules were meant to break and it’s your space. Really, the sky’s the limit for creative organizing when you give yourself permission.

Recently, I was struggling over pantry storage and considering buying a cabinet, as my old schoolhouse has an inadequate number of undersized cabinets. One day I realized that the built-in broom closet was underutilized, with space consumed by items I no longer use. I decided to build some inexpensive pine shelves inside of the closet and put the brooms and dusters in the stairwell on a rack. It was a little more work than the original plan, but less expensive and more aligned in character to the original kitchen cabinets, which were made of pine and built by handy nearby farmers (everyone had an extra trade in the old days of rural America).

My storage solution wasn’t a store-bought, out-of-the-box one, but rather, a creative one tailored to my own unusual space. And I’m pleased with the results, the extra room I now have on my counters – plus the kitchen still has plenty of open floor space. Creative solutions to storage may not be the most obvious, promoted or even simple ones, but they are often more fun.

Even if you don’t consider yourself to be particularly artistic, cultivating your inner child when organizing your home, work space and office makes the tasks more joyful and transforms your environments into more inviting, unique and comfortable spaces. Approaching organizing as a means to express your personality and style can be fun and motivational for both you and your family (if applicable).

Do you have a motivational trick or creative approach to organizing you’d like to share?


Book Review – Organizing for the Spirit


book review - organizing for the spirit

Organizing for the Spirit – Syncing your Belongings and Life Goals for Purposeful Living

In our quests to get organized, we find on the internet, bulleted how-to’s, lists of things to toss, and helpful blogs, books and articles with solutions to our organizing problems. While these are very useful for achieving short-term organizing goals, they sometimes don’t get at the heart of why we save things, how we store them, or how and why things might get disorganized.

Sunny Schlenger’s approach to organizing stands out in that it encourages us to introspect and examine our physical belongings and put them in an emotional and personal/historical context.

In a beautifully written book that defies genres (it’s a bit self-help, a bit of a memoir, and a bit of a how-to, only with soul-searching undertones), Sunny invites the reader to contextualize their belongings and clutter in terms of how they relate to the past, present and future.

For Sunny, respecting our attachment to things and using our revelations as a springboard for making adjustments, not just to our immediate environments, but to our lives, is what is really required to achieve lasting change.

Our surroundings often signify what is going on in our inner lives, so understanding those relationships can benefit us greatly and help us create meaningful futures that reflect our desire for happiness as well as our current life goals.

The book is a joy to read and includes interesting anecdotes and topics such as “synchronicity,” “being in the now,” “being authentic” and “having gratitude.” A delightful mixture of East and West, in its skillful blending of soul searching and practicality, Organizing for the Spirit is a short, yet rich-in-content book to read on a weekend, and you’re likely to not want to put it down.

For more information about Sunny and her history, read the Interview with an Organizer feature on the Organize-It Blog. You can purchase Organizing for the Spirit on Amazon and find out more about Sunny and Flow Coaching on her website.


6 Clever Ways to Add Vertical Storage in Your Home


Vertical Space - 6 WaysOut of room? Maybe not. Try adding vertical storage in underused areas.

Not enough closets? Cupboards too small? Don’t despair because we’re going to help you magically make storage space when you think you ran out. Look, up in the sky. It’s an over-door storage rack – no, a garage rafter hoist… Think vertically. Think outside the storage box – and buy stackable ones while you’re out there. Careful planning, a little bit of elbow grease, and a few useful products put to good use on a Saturday afternoon is all you need to get organized. Fact is, you have lots of space around your home you aren’t using… We’ll help you locate it.

Hanging Closet Shelves Shelves

Hanging closet shelves make good use of closet space and add room for sweaters, shirts and other clothing. They’re available in different widths and store a lot more than a similar span of hanging clothes, as they use the vertical space beneath the rod.

Stacking Plastic Boxes

Stacking plastic boxes come in a variety of sizes, some with interlocking features for more secure stacking. Shoe boxes, photo boxes and larger airtight boxes are useful for storing a variety of items in your closet on the shelves or on floor if room permits. Stacking boxes are a versatile way to add vertical storage in unused areas of your home (under beds, on basement shelves, etc.).

Hanging Accessory Holders

Hanging accessory holders including scarf, belt and tie holders keep your favorite accessories accessible and consolidated for easier outfit staging or grab-and-go dressing in the morning. They occupy vertical hanging space in your closet and keep your drawers free for clothing.

Wall-Mount Shelves

Around your home, in your garage, your basement, the kitchen, and even in your closet, you’re likely to have unused overhead space that begs for a utilitarian and/or functionally attractive storage display. Pottery might find a home above kitchen windows, and a small shelf can be mounted over a door for infrequently-used items. Most shelves come with hardware and only require a drill and a level for installing. The best part is that they come in a range of widths and can be stacked in multiples – as many as you have space for. While built-in shelves are often desirable for their aesthetics, decorative brackets are available to dress up shelving and can transform ordinary wall shelves into attractive additions to your decor.

Ceiling Racks

When you’ve overfilled your cupboard, wall and other storage space, look to the sky for creative storage solutions. Whether it’s pot and pan ceiling racks, or garage rafter storage, you’ll appreciate the extra room and, with the right racks, it will look neat while freeing other valuable real estate.

Over-Door Racks

Doors provide lots of valuable vertical storage in spaces that are underutilized. Over-door hat, purse, shoe and other over-door storage racks provide TONS of storage. These are really great for small homes, apartments and dorms.

Wall-Mount Pot and Pan Racks

Horizonal, wall-mounted pot racks can be stacked up the wall to accommodate pots, pans and utensils. Aside from using up vertical space, these racks make it convenient for cooking – especially if you have room for them near your stove or food prep area. Large racks may include shelves and ceiling pot racks (see above) are another possible storage option.

Double Closet Rod Hanger

This inexpensive, rod hanger accessory doubles your closet real estate by providing an additional hanging span beneath the main one. You can easily hang sweaters, jackets, shirts and other items using unused space in your closet.
These are only a few solutions for making vertical storage in your home. Feel free to make your own creative solutions and even share some of your ideas here on our blog. If you struggle with small-space storage issues, you might also enjoy your small kitchen post, as well as our overhead storage slideshow.