Archive for the ‘Efficient Systems’ Category


Creative Rhythm Reset

August 8, 2015


Creativity concentration. When faced with a creative challenge or artistic task, I go into tunnel-vision concentration mode. All else fades away and falls off the to do list.

But everything I notice on the periphery gets stored somewhere in my head!

As soon as the Big Deal is over, my mind takes a short respite, then the Great Reset begins. Off I go, working on all the items that appeared to have lain dormant. Like…

  • Changing the light bulb that burned out last week
  • Sweeping the wood splinters from playful doggies’ chewing session off the patio
  • Gathering framing supplies from every flat surface in the house and returning them to their homes
  • Doing the laundry… and taking the time to hang it outside in the sunshine
  • Standing (still!) in the sunshine and looking at the curly clouds
  • Cleaning out the rotting cilantro from the refrigerator, and remembering to eat
  • Writing a blog post
  • And more

The Big Deal provided energy and creative passion and thorough enjoyment.

The Reset calms my heart, restores perspective, and prepares my soul (and space) for the next Big Deal!


Can you relate? How does the rhythm of your creative flow work? Please share— I have much to learn from you, my creative friends!


Organization for Creativity

July 7, 2012

Creating is difficult for me when I’m surrounded by chaos. Creative messes I can handle, but if I can’t see the project I’m working on for the supplies and unrelated paraphernalia, I get distracted. When I get distracted, I can’t give my full attention to my work, and to be creative, I need ALL my emotions, brain, and soul.

Maybe you work differently. In fact, you probably do, because we are different people. But at some point cleaning up becomes necessary. The following principles grew from my heart out of necessity. You may think it weird that my heart would come up with something as mundane as rules. But like I said, order helps my inner being.

My hierarchy for sorting and organizing:

#1 – Put stuff you use often where you use it: tools and supplies, files and books, phone numbers and data, etc.

I constantly use paper bags for patterns, so I keep a supply of them in my studio. (The rest are by the recycling in the garage with all the other bags.) This saves time and steps for rounding up supplies.

And it motivates me! Think of it this way– if an elf came into your studio, office, or home and put everything you need right where you need it to get started, wouldn’t you just love to jump right in and make something?

Getting organized, however, can also take away an excuse for procrastinating. You’ll HAVE to start creating if everything is waiting and ready!

#2 – Group items according to type.

All writing implements go together. Bills to be paid are in one box. Supplies for baking (flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, spice, oil) live in one cabinet. Writing resources are in one computer file. Supplier sites are in one bookmark folder. Etc.

I group my collage “found” supplies by material: tin can tops and old keys are in a box marked “metal”; plastic tags, lids, and old credit cards are in another marked “plastic”.

Your stuff will be easier to find, making creating more enjoyable and faster.

NOTE: There is a negative corollary to this principle: if it’s not related to near-by items, put it elsewhere where it is. Screwdrivers go with other screwdrivers, not next to the laundry detergent on top of the washing machine.

OTHER NOTE: Rule #1 overrides Rule #2. For instance, if you always use a screwdriver to pry off the laundry detergent lid, leave it by the tub.

#3 – If stuff in containers is hard to find, split the category.

Too many writing utensils making it difficult to find your favorite highlighter? Separate the group into sub-groups: pencils, markers, pens, crayons. Tiny brushes always getting lost among the big ones? Grab another can or jar out of the recycling for the 00’s. Scrap wood pile to big to see what’s on the bottom? Stand longer boards near-by with 2’ or less in the pile.

#4 – Keep your absolute favorites close.

This is a variation on #1, but sometimes hard to define until you pay attention next time you are working. As you create (or during a break if you are on a roll and can’t attend to something else) notice what you use all the time. Make a space or container for these items near your workspace. This is what I call my tool kit. Everything I use constantly and can’t work without is in this category.

For baking, it’s my recipe card file, spices and measuring cups. For painting it’s a rag, my favorite brushes, paint can opener, stir stick, and plastic cups. For paper art I have a box with rulers, scissors, masking tape, my favorite markers, and a craft knife.


The info above is to explain two simply-stated concepts:

  1. Keep the tools and items you use most frequently together and in a convenient place.
  2. For everything else, put like items together.

Practical Suggestions

These two concepts are simply stated, but more difficult to implement.  You could tackle your studio or home in one grand organizational effort– that would overwhelm most of us!  More realistically, work in stages, and your workspace and supplies will gradually become easier to use and find.

  1. Work on small areas at a time. The one or two where you work the most often make a good starting point.
  2. Always (ALWAYS) put items where they belong when you are done with them in the areas you have organized. If you don’t, you’ll lose the ground you’ve gained.
  3. Analyze how you work until you know what your favorites are. Gather them together. For other tasks notice what supplies need gathering and could be stored near the appropriate workstation.
  4. Organize other, less-used areas once a week until you’re done.
  5. Have a garage sale with all the stuff you find you don’t want anymore.
  6. Create with clutter-free freedom!
  7. Share your success stories and questions here.

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