Learn 5 easy ways to foster creativity and stay organized at the same time.
I come from a line of crazy, creative women.
My grandmother was a designer, and then the first woman creative director for Hallmark Cards. She toured all over the Midwest giving talks about creativity while drawing with chalk at the same time. (They were called, adorably, “Chalk Talks”.)
My mom made many of my clothes growing up and is an award-winning quilter. (She made the “guest book” for Roger’s and my wedding – a king sized quilt that everyone at our wedding signed.)
And my step-daughter Amanda, can make anything more beautiful with her lettering, drawing and a little bit of purple glitter.
If you had asked me as a young adult if I was creative, I would have given you my standard reply, “It skipped a generation.”
But now, years later, I can finally say the words “I’m creative”, because I realized that all creativity is not just about making things pretty — we can be creative in a thousand different ways. Here are a few ways I have infused creativity in my day:
- Putting a great meal on the table;
- Writing a loving note to a friend;
- Putting up a fun Facebook Live video;
- Cutting branches from our trees to make “arrangements”;
- Mixing up essential oils to make our room smell amazing.
And we all have the opportunity to infuse a little more creativity into our day, but one thing I’ve discovered about myself is that in order for me to be creative, my creativity demands a couple of things: order and space.
So here is how I foster creativity and stay organized at the same time:
We all have the picture of the wild and free spirit who is creating everywhere she goes. Her life is one big piece of art …
But what I’ve come to understand is that your creativity needs a safe place to be let out to play. Your creativity needs some rules and structure to feel secure enough to do what it wants to do. This is why I get up at 5:00 a.m. every morning, go downstairs, feed the animals, grab a cup of coffee, and start writing. I’ve trained my creativity to show up and perform on a schedule. I no longer have to wrestle her to the ground – we have a standing date.
This routine also helps me stay organized in the morning because when I start my day the same way every day, I am able to continue my day the same way. After I write, I walk the dog with my husband, come home, clean up, and get ready for the day. One of the beautiful things about routine is that you don’t have to spend a lot of time deciding what you’ll do next. It’s already been decided for you and your brain is free to think of other, amazing creative things.
Your To Do: Where is one block of time that you could create a little routine for yourself? Create a pocket of routine in that time and then start to grow your routine to two hours. (I highly suggest starting with first thing in the morning or last thing at night.)
As much as I believe in the benefits of routine, sometimes there is value in breaking out of it, for creativity’s sake.
Right now I’m sitting in the passenger seat of our Rav 4 listening to Simon & Garfunkel’s I Am a Rock while driving in Northern California with my husband by my side (singing about 40% of the words to the song while tooling down the freeway.) This? It’s not my optimal writing situation. But, sometimes, it’s good to get out of your routine, mix things up a bit, and challenge yourself to do the hard stuff and be creative even when the circumstances don’t lend themselves to it. I love to know that I can be creative – no matter where I am or what I am doing (or whose off key singing I’m listening to). I am a warrior!
Another way I love to break routine is to dedicate a couple of times a year to just being creative. I love to get away with a few friends to a cabin or house somewhere pretty and just hunker down and write all day. This is when I can get away from laundry and errands, hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on my email (with an auto-responder) and just concentrate on getting my creativity on.
Your To Do: Don’t have a cabin in the words? That’s OK. Take a Saturday in a Starbucks, or even rent a hotel room with a friend. (But be sure to set up the schedule ahead of time so you know when to chat and when to write. There’s nothing worse than coming home from a writer’s retreat without having written anything…)
Plan Out Your Day
There is something about having a well-scheduled day that forces you not only to stay on track, but actually frees up your brain to think differently.
I love scheduling my day and seeing it on paper – it helps me see my day in chunks and make plans to create.
When I’m scheduling, I try to break up my “thinking-about-how-to-write-this-article” heavy thinking with “folding-the-load-of-towels” non-thinking so that my brain has some time to be free and play. As much as I would love to concentrate my way into brilliant thoughts, most of my favorite ideas come while unloading the dishwasher and removing puggle hair from the couch.
I’ve tried a million different planners, and Iwhat I’ve learned is that I need a planner without a ton of structure. This one from Ruth Choe Simmons, The Gracelaced 17 Month Planner is just perfect for me – with enough structure to keep me on track, but enough blank spaces to give me the room I need to think outside of the lines. It’s exactly what the creative one needs: a little guidance in her life.
Your To Do: Spend just five minutes planning out what you want to get accomplished today (or, if you’re better at night, plan out what you want to get accomplished tomorrow). You will be amazed at how much more room your brain will have to be creative.
Organize Your Tools
One of the fastest routes to creativity is to have your tools ready and waiting for you when it’s time to create. Every night I set my coffee to auto-brew, charge my computer, and make sure that my notebook and pen are next to my writing chair before I go to bed. That way, all my tools are where I need them.
The less obstacles you have to get to your creativity, the faster you can start being creative.
Your To Do: Define what your tools are and where you are going to keep them that will require the least amount of hassle.
Create Some Space
“Clutter makes me creative!”, we scream. But, actually, all the research says the exact opposite.
We do our best work in an area where we are free from distractions, and let’s be clear; all clutter is a distraction.
Your To Do: Create a space where you can be as free from distraction as possible. An uncluttered area where you can create keeps your mind on the beauty of what you are creating, not the clutter that is trying to steal you attention.
Giveaway to Help You Stay Organized!
How do you up your creativity? Share your idea below and you will be entered to win our grand prize sponsored by Harvest House Publishers so you can be creative and stay organized too.
She and her husband Roger are the parents of four young adults in San Jose, CA. When she’s not dating her husband or hanging out with her puggle Jake, Kathi is speaking at retreats, conferences and women’s events across the US.