Friday, February 29, 2008

Spring Cleaning Tips

Okay, what is a photo of lilies doing here? And why have a post about spring cleaning? Because spring is here (it's even almost Easter) and it seems that the energy is out there for cleaning and organizing.

So, some tips:

1. Don't let it come into the house or office or writing space. Throw out all possible mail. Don't buy more supplies until you have almost run out, even if on sale. Be brutal. As creative people we all get caught up in possibilities so those advertisements are seductive. Be honest--yes, that one piece of paper might be an idea for an article, maybe, kinda--but how many article ideas do you have already waiting? How many paints, pens, journals do you have sitting around?

2. File everything as soon as possible--if possible, while going through the mail or as you are bringing it into the office. Try not to let it pile up. If you can't do daily, set a time weekly to whale through all that stuff and set a timer for only the time you feel you can devote to the task so you don't feel trapped doing it forever. Make it a game: beat the timer.

3. Don't spend all your time organizing for organization. Huh? By that I mean, don't spend hours figuring out creative titles for all your files or micro-filing so that you have 200 files, each with one piece of paper. If you've sorted well, trust that you'll be able to find what you need when you need to.

Are you trapped in "I'm creative so this mess is creative?" Do you have a functional way of organizing? Or non-functional, but you've been doing it that way for so long you're afraid of change? Or do you spend too much time organizing? Any additional tips?


Swubird said...


This is great advice. I'm definitely guilty of all three of your points. One of my biggest problems is that I micromanage my projects. I file everything in new files that get more and more specific. And, like you say, my files now number in the hundreds. My closets are full. My bookcase is full and I have boxes under my computer table. It's insane! I have been considering a little spring cleaning, and your post has helped me to make up my mind - it's happening!

Great post.

Conda Douglas said...

Thanks, Swubird, and glad you're inspired!

Decision making for us creative types is tough. Too many possibilities. I had a boss who not only had hundreds of files with one piece of paper each, but also tens of files labeled as MISC. Those were the ones where he couldn't make any decision about the paper. This didn't work, at all, for obvious reasons.

The Muse said...

I started spring cleaning a couple of weeks ago. I had a few cabinets in the kitchen that were really bothering me. One is a cabinet full of cookbooks, phone books, and kitchen over flow. I pared down the phone books--why do we need phone books anymore? I use the Internet for most of my lookups. Maybe I should just get rid of those.

As far as mail, I go through it as soon as we get it in the house. I stand next to the trash can and file 13 all the junk. Shred items go in a special trash can under the desk and are shredded once a month. Bills are filed in a mail sorter on the desk. Once a bill is paid the reciept is filed.

Online bill pay has been a God send for us. A lot of paper mail has been eliminated because of it. So mail is not a huge issue.

For supplies, I keep a rolling drawer system I picked up at Wally World. That was the best organizational tool I ever bought. The caddy holds everything I need and keeps the clutter to a minimum. I can roll the thing into the closet and keep it out of sight and my office area clear.

My next cleaning project will be the laundry room. I have some shelves in there that are storing an old Mac of mine. I really need to fire up that computer clear out all the files and donate it.

Heck, why am I just commenting about it, I'm going to go do that right now!

Have a good one!

Conda Douglas said...

Sounds like you've really got a handle on the organizing, Muse--I especially loved when you thought of something that you could accomplish, off you went to do it!

And a good point about phone books. I get 4 a year and out of habit keep them. Out they go, today!