After the veil of winter is lifted, we all go into some form of ‘Spring Cleaning’ mode. A fresh start to a fresh season. But what about Fall? This Summer was chock full of projects but the resulting nluv Studio disaster is definitely not helping our creative juices. A clean, organized studio (home or work space) is just what this Fall season is calling for. Let’s embark on a ‘Fall Declutter’ mission and whip our spaces into shape!
Declutter your way to increased creativity
As an artist or DIY enthusiast, creativity is the core of our ideas. I don’t know about you, but when my studio is a cluttered disaster, nothing innovative or exciting pops into my head! I stare at my design pad for hours – a statue among the mess. All I feel is an overwhelming sense to ‘get out of there’! That is no way to live an artist’s life.
The need to declutter is not relegated to only those creative souls. A messy space is dysfunctional for anyone & will have some sort of negative effect on what you’re trying to accomplish. Here’s our top tips to declutter your space and increase your creativity through organization!
7 Highly-Effective Tips to Declutter your Space
#1: Get things off the floor.
The more stuff on the floor, the less space for you to create & the higher likelihood of you breaking something. It also limits the amount of projects you can accomplish at once. Don’t strain your back by continuously bending over and picking things up off the ground. Use tables, shelves, furniture, racks, etc. to keep supplies and tools off the floor. When you keep your floor space clean, you’ll naturally want to keep it that way.
#2: Not every scrap is worth saving.
Some of us look at every spare scrap of wood, broken tile and glass jar as a potential next project. We may not know what to do with it now, but what if we come up with something one day? We can’t throw it away, we might need it! While I mostly agree with this statement, sometimes it’s just a scrap & needs to be thrown away or recycled. If you keep every single piece of every project, you’ll soon have a house full of ‘stuff’! There won’t be any room for what you should be accumulating like furniture or other saleable & useful pieces.
Don’t junk up your home, studio or office with every scrap you can find just because you may use it someday. Put rules around keeping materials. If you hold onto an onion bag because the texture would look cool on a frame, if you don’t use it in say 6 months, let it go! Set a time limit for supplies or items around your home and stick to it! This will help you clear out those things you’ll never use and make room for new items you might!
#3: Group like items.
Don’t make things harder for yourself by spreading ‘like’ items out all over the place. Group items together so you only need to look in one area to see if you have what you need. This works for any room in any space, not just a studio. Group tools, paints, wood, stencils, brushes, mediums… it doesn’t matter how many categories you have. If the bin that held your brushes or tools is now too small, don’t just make another bin on the other side of the room. Get a larger, more appropriate sized container and keep all your tools together. Just as we continue to get new things for our spaces, our organizational bin system needs to get updated too.
#4: Build up not out!
Metropolitan hubs have used this mantra for decades… build up not out! Every space has walls, so use them. And, if you don’t have walls, like in an open warehouse studio, then build shelves and go ‘up’ anyway. Of course it would be wonderful to only have items that are perfectly arms-length away but that precious, higher, unused space is more valuable filled with items and you invest in a little step-stool.
Shelving is an important staple in any room from a studio, kitchen and even your office. We all need shelves to organize, stack and hold everything! In an office it could be books, in a studio lots of paint and our kitchens, all those dishes. Regardless of what it’s for, any room needs shelving to maximize its potential. Shelving can be costly so keep a look out for garage sales and online groups selling shelving for super affordable prices. I actually scored all our industrial shelving for free! And, don’t be afraid to creatively create your own shelving. My easel sits on a homemade table constructed of two metal sawhorses and a large leftover piece of sub-flooring. It’s perfect!
#5: Create an inventory list.
Having perfect shelves filled with supplies is great, but unless you can see every single label, you need to create inventory lists. This can be as simple as a tag hanging from each shelf to notate what’s on it at a quick glance. Sometimes supplies look alike, so a label calling out what’s on the top shelf will save you time when looking around. For smaller items such as color pigments (or even kitchen spices), type up a sheet calling out every color you have so you can quickly flip through your mini-color catalog to locate the color you want or see if you need to place an order for that missing shade of green. Whether you create direct tags to hang or an inventory list, be sure to put it near the shelf location of the actual items so you don’t lose items or your lists!
#6: Donate/give items away your not using.
Over time, we all seem to accumulate multiples of the same thing. Three easels, five levels, 20 japan scrapers… it just happens and we never really know how. At some point, you will have items in your space you just don’t need anymore but I bet there is someone else who does. This is a great time to go through your space and evaluate what you really need to keep and what can be let go. Perhaps you got a new workbench and the old one just isn’t needed anymore. Don’t just hold onto it for the sake of holding on. Just like I found free shelving and was ecstatic, someone else may be dreaming of a new workbench and you happen to have it!
More is not always better. Too much stuff limits our ability to take on more projects. Enjoy your space and blossom your creativity. Share what you don’t need with others. It will give you more room to create and someone else an opportunity to grow.
#7: Let go of expired product.
If it is bad, let it go. You’d be surprised how fast time flies and things around our homes expire. For artists it’s supplies like paints and mediums but think about your kitchen? When is the last time you went through the pantry and looked at spices and canned goods? If you keep inventory tags and logs, you’ll have less expired items because you won’t forget what you have. My spice list helps me not buy duplicates or forget what’s in the kitchen. For my studio, I always write on the container when I open something so I know how long I have to use it before it spoils. Some specialty paints only last 12 months after being opened, so I don’t want to lose sight of the date and waste product.
If you keep dibs on what you have, your spoilage will be much less. But, if you do find an old can lying around, let it go & get a fresh one if you need.
Tidy + Organization + Creativity = Declutter
None of these tips are new to any of us, but our lives are so busy sometimes that we just innocently forget and can become overwhelmed. Time is the number one thing we all have too little of, but time assigned to declutter your space will pay you back in productivity and creativity gains worth every minute! Look at Fall as a great time to get your space in order for a happy, healthy, enjoyable holiday season quickly approaching. Life doesn’t slow down to organize, so map out some time in your schedule to whip your space into shape and enjoy the rewards of an orderly environment.
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