Got creative block? Clean up like you’re moving.

They say that a messy desk is the sign of genius. If that’s true then I must be working on a Nobel Prize for design management because my desk it often overrun with stuff.  I often have a stack of post-its with my daily to-do’s, printouts of design work to review, and manila folders of completed or dormant projects on my desk.

The problem is that all of this clutter is pretty distracting and prevents me from being productive or creative.

I’ve had nine desks in four years where I work. This means I have had to clean off my desk, take down my posters and notes, empty out my drawers, and pack everything up into boxes so that office services can take everything over to my new cube more than a few times. These frequent moves have actually been a good thing for me though, because with each move I end up organizing my things and de-cluttering (AKA throw junk away) my desk.

I’m amazed at how productive I am for the first several days after I get to my new desk, and I’ve come to realize it’s because I don’t have all of those distracting stacks of books, piles of notes, or clusters of things that have nothing to do with my tasks for the day.

So now, whenever I feel like I’m being anything less than productive I clean up my desk like I’m moving to a new location. The act of de-cluttering and organizing my physical space, allows me to get back into a productive and creative space again as well. It’s funny how such a simple thing gets me back to where I need to be to do my job well.

4 thoughts on “Got creative block? Clean up like you’re moving.

  1. Tiffany

    This is definitely good advice. I try to make it a habit to take the last half hour or so of my Fridays to re-organize my desk, file away and/or recycle paper from projects I’ve completed and wipe down my desk surface. The same goes for my computer’s desktop – nothing is more disruptive to my productivity than a desktop cluttered with random files! It’s also nice to come in to a fresh, clean, organized space on Monday morning!

  2. Chad

    This post actually makes me fee like I am in the right job. To hear that other creative managers struggle with keeping their physical space organized is helpful. I know my cube stands out in cubeville due to the constant clutter. I also know that I need to find stuff related to any number of projects in varying stages of activity at any time. I keep my computer reasonably filed and organized by project but my desk … The 3-5 project files that I am working on are in front of me physically and on my dual 20″ monitors. A PC to test web sites and apps is to the left with a phone, dictionary, external hard-drives and a pencil sharpener. To the right is a stylus pad and file drawers for office junk, files that are back-burnered for whatever reason, and a disk duplicator/labeler. Behind me is my todo list and an in and out box. Calendars and cheat-sheets line the walls. The file above the desk is filled with design, inspiration and support books. My coffee cup is under my microphone next to my speakers and usb hub. With all of that I don’t know how I have room for clutter, but I do. And I use it.

  3. Myown925

    Wow, this post sounds a lot like me and my daily routine. It does help to get your desk clean to be more productive. It helps clear the mind! It’s great to know that I’m not the only one.