Help! I’m creative, and I find being organized hard

Sheila Chandra - Monday, May 29, 2017


Congratulations! You’re creative and full of ideas that come at you from all sides. Or you’re deeply passionate about your work and find it hard to think about anything else. All that is great. But if you find being organized hard, it’s definitely going to impact your professional creative career in both obvious ways, and in ways you’re not even aware of. As someone who has had a creative career spanning more than 35 years I can assure you, being organized is an essential skill for a creative person – precisely because you’re so full of ideas.


The issues that being badly organized helps you cover up

It’s important that I call you out on your ‘stuff’ here. Too often being badly organized is an excuse – a great way to avoid the bigger things about having a professional creative career that truly scare you. But while it may be comfortable to do that, it won’t do your career any favours in the long term. Here are some issues that being organized won’t allow you to ignore:


  • Not having the motivation to keep the pace up.
  • Not being confident about your ideas.
  • Imposter syndrome and finding it terrifying to acknowledge that you’re a creative professional.
  • Being frightened of getting business-like about your career.
  • Being frightened of moving into essential new skills/areas.
  • Not feeling sufficiently motivated to work on your career.


 Artist myths about being organized

In addition, many creative people inherit a number of myths around being organized. Myths about the ‘true artist’ who is chaotic and dysfunctional precisely because they’re a genius. This is simply not true. Common artist myths include:


  • I need visual chaos to stimulate me to be creative.
  • I’m busy making a living and don’t have time to tidy up.
  • I don’t know when I’m going to feel creative so I don’t have time to tidy up.
  • I’m afraid if I’m organized I won’t ‘look’ like an artist.
  • I’m afraid I’ll lose/forget things.
  • I don’t need to be organized, my ideas are strong enough to carry me.
  • I don’t ‘do’ stuff like tidying up/cataloguing/strategy.
  • Won’t a manager/PA deal with that for me?
  • I’m also a parent/carer/employee. I don’t have time to be organized.


    All of the issues from these two lists are answered in my new book ‘Organizing for Creative People’. For the moment though, stop and check if you’re harbouring any of these myths and really think about how true they are, even for you. And what your lack of systematic organization might be hiding about your current fears and limitations.


 Being organized starts with having goals that inspire you

Most of all I encourage you to start with a list of goals that really inspires you. These will be your roadmap and your motivation. Because if you have a list of goals you’re really excited about, you’re going to want to push past the hard bits to get yourself there. It will also make you want to be as efficient as possible with your workspace, your buying and disposal processes, and your infrastructure such as invoicing, PR etc.

Decide which of these is the most important – I recommend selecting two maximum to work on a little every day. Doing that will help you gain confidence as you achieve them and move on down your goals list. And anytime you feel like procrastinating remember the images in your head that made you choose your current goals. They’ll encourage you to ‘work smart’ rather than simply hiding in being chaotic or busy.


If you need more detailed insights on why you’re finding it hard to be organized try downloading a free extract of ‘Organizing for Creative People’. It’ll help you break free of your organizational limitations.

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