How to be creative and organised at the same time seems like a riddle that someone tells you (after hours of trying to solve it) has no answer.
We have so long designed our lives and businesses in such a way that they are either one or the other. The belief? That fundamentally we are one or the other and that creativity is the opposite of organised and therefore they simply cannot coexist.
Creative people are free spirits, messy, chaotic, disorganised but wildly imaginative, open minded and flexible, not always financially stable, have to ‘suffer’ for their art, worked in many jobs. They make and create.
Organised people are rigid, systematic, overly scheduled, neat and tidy, studious, stoic, linear, methodical, structured, close minded, most likely reasonable stable financially, took a specific route in their career journey and stuck to it. They do and get done.
I think as children, we are encouraged to believe this albeit unintentionally by our adult counterparts. We are labelled as studious or artistic, shy or vivacious and it’s this time where we take one of our first forays into ‘boxing’ ourselves.
In fact I truly believe we all have a unique mix of all the qualities in us. We are all part of the same human spectrum and therefore we embody many different things all at once. We understand we can be hungry and happy at the same time or sad and have excess energy so why too can we not accept that we can be creative AND organised and that those things fluctuate on a daily basis?
I believe it’s why we can have a doctor who is methodical, studious and incredible particular about hygiene and tidiness at work who collects Harry Potter figurines and fills their home with them. One does not negate the other but at time different traits and feelings will expand as the others retract and vice versa. Like wood swelling or shrinking with changing weather conditions.
But why is being creative and organised so important?
When I am working with people as they build their businesses I often find they feel torn between what they want and what they think they should have or should be doing. It’s often this that finds them ‘stuck’ and, as we talk I find they’re bored or lacking in inspiration and there in I see a pretty simple truth.
In catering only to the one part of their personality and needs in their life and business they unintentionally starve the other.
Imagine for a moment that you fed each part of yourself daily. You exercised those muscles that work with those traits and you wholeheartedly accepted that both were essential to feeling fulfilled. Then imagine that you release yourself from the shackles of outdated beliefs about yourselves (that may never have been yours to begin with).
Now, let yourself wonder what you could achieve, what impact you could have unburdened by false narratives.
That’s why it’s essential to allow yourself to be creative and organised.
But how can I be creative and organised?
Good question! It’s definitely baby steps to start, especially if you’ve really leveraged one and have formed an identity around it. Thankfully you still own that identity but let’s see if we can’t help you harness the power of both a little more!
For those who identify as creative
If you are creative and have created a disorganised, free spirit persona then your energy is a whole vibe and that’s awesome but maybe you want to be able to increase the impact and audience for your art (whatever that may be) but aren’t sure you have the ‘boring’ part in you. Maybe you think you will never get that far without either selling out or stunting your creativity.
I get it. Being organised feels like a Chinese finger trap for inspiration but what if you knew that that thing you have/are creating could have untold value to others, that in the very access to it they themselves were inspired to create. What if the act of being creatively organised triggers MORE creative ideas and helps you bring them to life?
Well it ain’t no overnight thing I’ll tell you that much but here are a few things that people I have worked with during mentoring have found useful.
- Lose the distractions wherever possible so that when you create you can 100% create, no business just joy. Distractions are personal but one of my clients got rid of their TV. Another has every Wednesday ‘off’ and uses it to read, have long lunches and leisurely lie ins until she sits down and writes.
- Get rid of the ‘to do list’ and think instead about your day as a whole. What might be booked in and non negotiable – a medical appointment or an interview perhaps. Well that’s a block of organised time right there. What else would you like to get done that day? Do you dream of working on that project instead of the other one you have on the go? could that be before or after the non negotiable appointment – when is your creative energy at it’s best?
- Keep your ‘kit’ together and easy to access. It doesn’t matter if its on the dining table, in a huge trunk, takes up the spare room or it lives in a shoebox under the sofa – it’s whatever works for you just remember that keeping it together will mean you’re ready when inspiration strikes.
- Habit stack. Instead of dedicating 3 hours a day to ‘admin’ and organisation, how about adding mini elements of it into habits you already have? While the kettle is boiling for your morning coffee send some emails. When you’re brushing your teeth at night log your expenses etc wherever you choose to do that. Whilst dinner is in the oven forward your receipts/income etc. to your accountant. When you’re writing in your paper diary a new appointment write a reminder 3 days before too or set a reminder on your calendar for several days before.
Make whatever the boring stuff is as joyful as you can. Create a playlist that you love and feel energised by for when you’re doing that work. Make sure you plan in something you love as a reward for immediately completing it – reward yourself with joy and fun and art and love and embrace it fully knowing you’ve done the stuff you didn’t think you were cut out for.
For those who identify as organised
If you have found yourself fully on the productivity train with linear thinking but know your business and life could benefit from more creativity and ‘outside of the box’ thinking…if only you were a creative type then I feel you. It can feel risky, even frivolous to consider doing something without purpose as such or without an immediate return on investment of your time and money etc. But what if I told you creativity is an amplifier of productivity when nurtured, that it can in fact improve every area of your business and life exponentially because it’s a source of momentum.
The very fact that you have built a business and are building your life the way it is is something of a creative act but, if you want to amplify your life, business and all then here are some things that people I’ve worked with as a mentor have found beneficial.
- First, start reminding yourself that research has discovered that a healthy brain engaged in creativity actually uses both the left and right sides of the brain (much to the dismay of the people still touting that we are either a left brained or right brained personality type) Don’t take my word for it, check out this article from Tara Swart
- Habit stacking – This is great for trying to be more creative too. For example, if you know you want to add a blog to your website and want to write, when you’re boiling your morning kettle spend that time coming up with ideas of ways you could help the reader. When you’re drinking your first cup of tea of the day instead of reading the paper or checking out your emails pick up a fiction novel that is outside of your wheelhouse.
- Cultivate experiences – go to watch live music, go to a poetry reading, watch a show, become a tourist in your town and immerse yourself in it. Go for a hike or watch the sunrise every morning and then just feel those experiences. No analytics just think about how your body felt during them, how full or peaceful your mind was. Experience these things as fully as you can – this will take practise
- Get a hobby unrelated to what you do for work and is in no way beneficial for your family or finances. By that I mean it’s only purpose is to be done by you. Maybe you could get a bunch of puzzles or paint by numbers. Maybe it will be sudoku or learning to play the keyboard. Maybe it will be starting to horse ride. Whatever it is it should be simply for the pursuit of doing it!
If you find mess or clutter make it hard for you because you’re so organised that’s cool. Embrace it – keep the space where you practise these tidy, check your diary and keep up to date with your emails but then give all of your attention to these, this may mean switching off your phone or TV!
About getting creative and organised
The main thing to remember whichever camp you fall in is that there is no right or wrong way, you can embrace who you are and still do both. In fact you will find that some days you are more one than the other and then other days the pendulum swings the other way.
Like with everything, practise and joy make these so very much easier!
I say it’s time we embrace our multi-faceted natures and let ourselves find true freedom of choice. If you want to hear more, feel free to subscribe to my newsletter!
What do you think? Are you one or the other or a mix of both?
Catch you later,