Organizing for the Creative Innovator



If you’ve got the brain of a creative artist or innovator, chances are you may find yourself feeling “under the desk”, like our none-the-less successful friend, Tina Fey.

Innovators are “pilers” not “filers“, tend to be great at starting projects, (many), through not always great at completing them. Spontaneous, inventive, and motivated to create what doesn’t yet exist, innovators & creatives can be passionately absorbed on a project of interest, losing all sense of time in the focus of creation.




Traditional organizational methods don’t work so well – Our linear brains take a backseat to the wilder, creative, non-linear brains (yes, we all have both aspects, but one can be dominant).



We suffer from out-of-sight, out-of mind syndrome, so desk drawers, clothes bureaus, and filing cabinets can be useless. Getting us to schedule methodically can be a challenge, too.



Don’t fight against how you’re brain works intuitively. Recognize you may need a lot of flat surfaces to spread out your materials. I love this picture of Jann Wenner, former editor of Rolling Stone magazine. His open filing systems allows him to stack projects, out in the open, while still containing them and keeping different projects distinct.

He has a big enough work space to spread his projects out on – but it’s easy to retrieve and put back just what he needs.

Know that hanging clothes, or stacking them visibly in cubes may work better than drawers.

Catch the wave of inspiration to declutter and organize. If you listen to yourself, and trust your gut, you’ll know when it’s time to purge and re-order. Chances are you’ll invent your own way to keep your belongs so you can access them.

Make up a game to have fun with organizing. I have two married friends who are performers. Loathe to declutter, the need arose when planning to sell their house. They decided to cast themselves as characters who were very neat and efficient. They set about their tasks “in character” taking on the “roles” of organized folk – it worked!

Another idea is to put on some favorite music, and see how much you can get done in the length of a song. Or watch an inspirational TV show – make the commercial breaks your organizing time. That way you’re not giving yourself a torturous amount of time, and you can use the program to inspire and motivate you to get through.

You may need some signs, stickies and clocks around, to set reminders, timers and warnings for important appointments. Be sure to set reminders for prep and commute time as well.

karl lagerfeld 3

Delegation or body doubling are other great tools. Karl Lagerfeld, above, collects massive amounts of materials from which to work. He also has a staff, to make sure his space stays organized. Perhaps you’re not in a position to hire a household staff, but if it’s in your means to hire an intern or high school neighbor to do a little maintenance for you (under your supervision – they may likely put something away you’ll never find again), then it could save you a lot of angst doing organizing maintenance that you find torturous.

Body doubling, is a term coined by Judith Kolberg, a highly innovative organizing pioneer. Often, when we have someone with us as a grounding presence, we can get through the decision-making process of what to keep/discard, and what to put where so we can best utilize it, much more easily. Be sure the person is truly non-judgmental, and not too opinionated. Remember, a system of organization only needs to make sense to you.

On a last note, I invite you to look through the photos of the creative innovators above. Hopefully you will be inspired by what they all have in common — success!!  Know that “messy” or “disorganized” is not a sign of failure, and that for some of us “organized enough” is a good enough goal!


11 responses »

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  4. I absolutely loved this and it made me feel so much better. I was calling out in the wilderness and you heard my cry. My husband has talked to me about “filing things” on every flat surface in our house and now there’s a precedent. I love it!! I have improved by the way but I still have a few things to do to be organised enough. I am definitely reblogging this!

  5. Yes! Isn’t it great to know we can work with our instincts, and not against them? I find organizing is an ongoing process, not something fixed. We refine our systems, or create new ones as needed. Experimentation is ok!

  6. Reblogged this on beyondtheflow and commented:
    Hi Everyone,
    After sorting out my dreaded pantry, I found this wonderful post with some great tips for creative people who might be organisationally challenged and it helped me feel so much better xx Rowena

  7. I love the images you have used as much as your text. So glad I found you 🙂 It’s a constant struggle this organization thing, which some days I win, but mostly I don’t . There’s always tomorrow.

  8. Pingback: How To Declutter Your Desk - Cathy Sexton's Membership Site | Cathy Sexton's Membership Site

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