How Creativity Can Cause Clutter

It might surprise you that there's a link between creativity and clutter. I see it in myself as well as my clients. What is it, and how do you overcome it?

Messy makers.

I've worked with quite a few clients who are creative people, even if their chosen vocation isn't necessarily artistic. I've helped a retired healthcare professional who paints watercolors, a physical therapist who enjoys needlepoint, a teacher who makes quilts, and a non-profit manager who likes crafting jewelry, just to name a few. I myself knit, crochet, sew, paint, and draw, and I've shown you before that I'm naturally messy. Is this link between creativity and clutter a coincidence? Maybe, but I have a theory...

Should it stay, or should it go?

The creative folks I've worked with seem to struggle more than others with a specific type of clutter -- the "I might use this for something" kind. Some items you have trouble letting go have a specific purpose or function. You might not use that smoothie blender, but you know it's for making smoothies, so even if the decision isn't easy, it's pretty straightforward. The same might be true for a thermometer or a smoke detector. But what about a big piece of floral foam? Or a ball of twine? An old blanket, a box of beads, or a really sturdy cardboard box? For a lot of people, it's easy to think of a million future, imaginary, hypothetical uses for items like those. So they keep them -- just in case.

Quite the imagination.

Here's my theory. People who are creative struggle with this type of clutter because they are imaginative thinkers, not because the item has value to them. Look at it this way. If I handed you, a creative person, a broken chair leg, I bet you'd be able to imagine a dozen uses for it. Does that mean you should keep it? Does that mean it has value to you? I'm not asking about value in general. I'm asking about value to you, in the life you live, the space you live it in, and the people you live it with, right now, today.

Value is as value does.

Even if you are almost certain you will use it someday, or even if you paid $100 for it, or even if your friend gave it to you ten years ago and you've never even considered using it and you feel guilt every time you see it -- does that mean it has value to you? Because there are other types of value. The value of a clean and tidy home and what that does for your sense of well-being and contentment. The value of not having to move that un-useful item out of the way in the cabinet or drawer or closet every time you are trying to find something you do actually use. The value the thing has for someone who will actually use it (aka the value of donating it). The value of the space the item takes up, and the value that space would offer you if it were empty -- freedom to move, freedom to see and enjoy the things you love, freedom to find the things you need when you need them.

We are here and it is now.

The next time you're hesitating on getting rid of something because you feel like it has value, consider how you're defining value. Consider your life and the people in it. Consider the value of peaceful surroundings and an uncluttered mind. Value in the present day. Value in the now.

Tell me how it goes.

If this tip worked for you -- or if it didn't -- share your thoughts below, or you can drop me a line here. I'd love to hear from you. Truly.


Recent Posts

See All