Being well-organized does not need to be in contrast to being creative. On the contrary, most great artists know the place of smallest thing they need for their creative work and the coolest and wildest rock musician may have his sound studio in meticulous order. Keeping track of your things, and not having to spend 10 minutes every morning to find your car keys also frees up a lot of time for other more useful activities, including creative work.
This is easier said than done as we are not genetically programmed to keep track of all of the thousands of gadgets we have in our homes or all the information that pours over us through social media, email and other Internet sources. Our brains have built-in constraints when it comes to attention, focus and keeping several things in the head at the same time.
The American neuropsychologist Daniel Levitin provides in his book The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload, based on modern research on how our brain works, solid advice on how to better organise yourself in your everyday life for increased creativity and self-fulfilment. The trick is to relieve the brain as much as possible from constantly keeping track of the details of everyday life, which not only saves time but also reduces stress and anxiety. The following tips are handy advice from Levitin’s book.
- Categorise your things by usage or times / situations when you need them and create a specific space for each category of items. Start with a rough primary sorting, and do a more detailed secondary sorting later on as needed. Keep the things you need most often easily at hand.
- Each thing / category of things should have its specific place – preferably marked in some way. When using something, take the habit to always put it back in its place. This applies not least to the keys when you get home. Never put anything in a place that is intended for something else.
- Avoid moving things around the house. If you are in need of reading glasses at different places in your home, get several pairs so you do not have to move around and give them a specific place in each room where you need them.
- Minimise the things you need to keep track of by systematically eliminating everything that you no longer need.
- If you have lost something, try to remember where you last know you had it, and then try to mentally follow the trail what you did since.
- Relieve memory: write memos, use a dispenser for your medication.
- Practice mindfulness, focusing your full attention on what you are doing right now.