Creative Clutter by Jessica James, a Client and a Friend

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A particular client team comes to town often and when they do, we make sure to head out somewhere great for dinner.  I always look forward to these dinners because the group is so dynamic and full of great stories.  Since I do not attend many of the shoots (truly, I just get in the way and eat way too much!) it is fun for me to use this time to get to know the team.  In addition to the stories, I like hearing about what everyone does when they are not working.

One night, Jessica James, an executive chef at one of the world’s largest casual dining restaurants, shared that she is currently working on completing her master’s degree in journalism and that one of her requirements is to write a blog.  I of course asked her if I could read it.  The first entry made me laugh out loud.  While I am incredibly organized and very detail oriented, my desk is always a mess. Well, a mess to someone who isn’t working at it.  I know where everything is and couldn’t imagine working any other way.

“I could relate to the post so much and I know many many people who could as well (no naming names!, I decided to share it. Thank you Jessica!

I once read somewhere that a defining characteristic of a successful creator is the ability to thrive in a cluttered environment—it could be a cluttered, disorganized office, kitchen or workshop. To be clear, I’m not talking about hoarding, just letting go a little, allowing for a little chaos in your life.

This definitely holds true for me. While my desk and workspace at home and work are in no way hazardous to others, it is safe to say, they’re a mess. My husband calls me a ‘stacker’—I have piles of papers here and there and it drives him crazy. He is not creative; he’s a storybook left-brained lawyer-in-the-making, no wonder he cannot tolerate my clutter.

These piles are laced with important documents, not-so-important documents, magazines, receipts and tear sheets I use for creative inspiration.

To the passer-byer, my stacks of paper might appear to be clutter, but to me, they’re heaps of creative genius. I know where everything is and I know most of the contents of each pile.

For me, the clutter keeps ideas fresh in my mind. If I were to file things away, they’d be out of sight, out of mind.

At work, the piles of documents remind me of all the projects I’m balancing and the various products I’m developing. At home, my stacks of clutter serve a similar purpose—they remind me of the projects I’m working on, or want to work on.

In addition to paper clutter, I also keep a white board that’s full of chicken scratch only I can decipher. Again, it keeps things fresh in my mind and it’s always there for me to reference, update or stare at blankly.

I know many people who would disagreewith me and say that to be productive, efficient and ready for anything, the ideal situation is a clean, well-stocked and organized workspace. But for me, creativity isn’t always about being productive and efficient. Some of my greatest successes have come from failures and/or creative mishaps.

If my story isn’t enough to convince you to let go and let the laundry pile up, let the bounds of paper overflow, let three years worth of your favorite magazine take the shape of Pisaand watch your creativity blossom like never before, then turn to the great, disorganized creators of history—Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein and Benjamin Franklin.”

To read Jessica’s post directly from her blog, please link here.

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