Inside: if your creative mojo is gone, it may be time to declutter your life – this article will show you how
Does your creative mojo sometimes take a break? Go away without telling you why? Chances are, it’s the clutter in your life that pushed it out. Today, let’s talk about how to declutter your life to increase your creativity (aka get your mojo back).
Before we go any further, let me specify right here that I’m not talking about a messy creative space when you’re in the middle of a fun project. This post is about all the extra noise, the stuff that doesn’t belong but somehow manages to stay anyway.
Why does clutter affect creativity?
Clutter goes hand-in-hand with procrastination, you know? Delayed decisions and all that. Procrastination leads to clutter, which in turn leads to procrastination. It’s a vicious cycle with a negative effect on mental wellbeing, especially for us women. It’s stress.
A certain kind of stress can be channeled in creative ways. You may have seen this with someone who’s battling significant health problems or mourning a loved one, and starts painting to get those feelings out.
But stress caused by clutter is different. It keeps your brain occupied, always processing, always going, always busy. It keeps you from focusing.
And creativity needs both focus and space. Your brain needs space to let your imagination soar. And it requires focus when you’re in the flow and the rest of the world disappears.
So how do you get this space and focus? You declutter your life. Let’s talk about this for a moment and define what clutter is first. In my experience, clutter falls into two categories: physical and mental.
What is physical clutter?
Clutter is all that doesn’t belong. You might be thinking, what does she mean, doesn’t belong?
Here’s what I mean. Pots and pans belong in the kitchen, right? Bundt cake pans too. But how many belong in your kitchen? Well, that depends on how many Bundt cakes you bake.
If they make a regular appearance on your menu, a Bundt cake pan is a reasonable thing to have. If you make cakes like that every weekend, you may even have several different pans for them.
But what if you don’t bake Bundt cakes? Or don’t bake at all? Then a Bundt cake pan is cluttering up your kitchen. If you don’t use it, even occasionally, it’s clutter. At best, it takes up space. More likely, it’s a frequent reminder of things you wanted to do and never did.
And it’s the same way with other things you don’t use. Tennis rackets you bought years ago, thinking you’d get into tennis. Maybe a bike you never ride anymore. They’re clutter and need a new home.
What is mental clutter?
Mental clutter is how I think of all the other “stuff” in our lives – social obligations, habits, etc. They’re not tangible like pots and pans but can cause similar or even greater stress.
Time sinks like social media or the many shows available on TV and streaming services are low-hanging fruit. But what about all the chirping notifications on your phone?
Do you really like to be distracted from whatever you’re doing by an email that just arrived in your inbox? Or because somebody tagged you on Facebook? My answer is no. What is yours?
And when it comes to social obligations, which ones do you really enjoy and which ones are in your calendar simply because you’ve never taken them off?
How do you start decluttering your life?
In all honesty, you can probably start anywhere and get farther than if you didn’t start at all. But to make things easier, what follows are the steps that worked for me. See how they might work for you.
Imagine your life as you want it to be – who and what is in it, how does it feel, what do you do on a regular basis? Within reason, obviously – you’re probably not going to be visiting the Moon anytime soon.
Identify what needs to change – what and where is your clutter, both physical and mental.
Declutter your home room by room – pick a room and get it done before moving on to the next one. If you’re starting with the bedroom, read How to declutter your bedroom step-by-step for helpful tips. You can also use the concepts in that post if you decide to start in another room.
Declutter your digital world – turn off almost all notifications on your phone. I mean, you want the phone to ring and most text messages to come through, but the rest of it? You can check your apps on your own schedule, no need to be a slave to their beeps.
Declutter your social calendar – identify events you’re only doing out of obligation and do your best to bow out of them. I’d refer you to Emily Post on how to word this, but Google is serving up ideas for tipping and weddings.
Decide how much of your time and energy you’re willing to spend on others, and don’t be afraid to let them know. If you only check your email twice a day, it shows people you respect your time, and they’ll respect it too (not that they’ll have a choice, hehe). And only say yes to events you actually want to do.
When you declutter your life, you make space for happiness and creativity. Your mojo comes back to stay. And you make beautiful things. It’s totally worth it.