Having a creative mind is a strange and wonderful thing. It fuels your passion, encourages self-worth, and keeps you moving and grooving. At the same time, your wheels are constantly turning. It’s not uncommon for a creative mind to be restless as it churns out ideas faster than we can make them happen. It’s a blessing and a curse.
As a writer and crafter, I know the feeling all too well. Don’t get me wrong—I absolutely love what I do—but when everything I do depends on my creativity, it’s hard not to feel all sorts of crazy.
With that said, I’ve made it a resolution to take care of my mental health by keeping the creative insanity at bay this year. Looking to do the same? Here are six ways to keep your creative mind decluttered and stress-free in the New Year.
01. CLEAR YOUR SPACE
Our surroundings influence us so much, whether or not we realize it. When it comes to clearing your mind, your space can make or break your productivity. This is especially true if you’re a visual person who tends to notice little things.
Your “space” can be anything from your work desk to your studio to that little nook in your living room. If it’s an area in which you spend time making and creating, it is your space.
Entrepreneur reminds us that messy spaces create messy thoughts. Take some time after each task to put things back where they belong. Simply tucking away extra pens and papers can work wonders. This will eliminate future accumulation and, inevitably, more overwhelming feelings.
I, for one, have quite the craft supplies stash. In the New Year, it is my personal goal to always return supplies to their proper home once I’m done with them. By doing so, I’ll clear a path for the next project.
For a creative person, a journal is more than just a pad of paper. It’s a best friend, a therapist, and a partner-in-crime. It’s here to save the day.
Just as your space needs room to breathe, so too do our minds. For an overwhelmed brain, a journal is the perfect storage unit.
The University of Rochester Medical Center shares that journaling is an important tool for managing mental and emotional health. A journal serves as a healthy outlet that reduces stress, anxiety, and depression.
Whether you’re a hobbyist or a professional artist, when your talent becomes part of your day to day, it can easily feel like a responsibility instead of a blessing. Journaling gives you a chance to appreciate your creativity in a different context.
03. MAKE A LIST
A busy woman’s arsenal isn’t complete without a to-do list. This tool is perfect for ordering your brain’s clutter.
Thanks to technology, you can create a to-do list with a few clicks of a button. Evernote is popular. But apps such as Todoist (distraction-free design), Wunderlist (collaborate and share), and Calvetica (costs $2.99, but it’s fast, fast, fast!) are other options.
Or go old-school with a pen and paper. Nothing beats the satisfying feeling of crossing off a task. But be careful not to turn mental clutter into material clutter, so keep a recycling bin nearby, or contain the lists in a single notebook.
04. FINISH SOMETHING . . . ANYTHING
The key to easing an overactive mind is getting just one thing done. It can be anything: sending an invoice or finishing an outline. Pick one, and go for it. Getting started is half the battle.
There will always be something that needs to get done. Remind yourself that the best you can do is kick this one’s butt before moving on to the next one. You’re only human.
If necessary, start with small administrative tasks: clearing out your inbox, organizing receipts, or tidying your space. This will clear the path for more important tasks.
Fortunately, this system isn’t about all work and no play. Completing a side project can work wonders for a creative mind. It’s the perfect way to take a break while kindling your creative flame.
05. DO SOMETHING CREATIVE FOR YOURSELF
Todd Henry, author of The Accidental Creative and Louder Than Words, discusses this concept in his podcast episode titled “The Necessity of Unnecessary Creating.” Henry reminds us that creating for yourself means making something that, rather than being seen, judged, or edited, is created for the sake of personal growth and development.
Finishing a personal project (not for work, family, or someone else) is the perfect release for creative overflow. It all comes down to learning how to let yourself snag some creative “me” time. Again, my workaholic tendencies love to nudge this option out of sight. Another New Year’s resolution for me? You bet.
06. DON’T MULTITASK
When you’ve got a million things on your plate, multitasking might seem like the best plan of attack. But here’s where things get tricky. According to researchers at Ohio State University, the benefits of multitasking are just that: feelings. People often take on multiple tasks at once because it makes them feel better about themselves, providing an emotional boost.
Productivity, on the other hand, is more likely to nose-dive. The American Psychological Association shares that cognitive function is inhibited when the mind experiences task-switching. As a result, efficiency decreases. It is estimated that multitasking can steal up to 40 percent of an individual’s productivity. Yikes!
The bottom line? Do one thing at a time. This also means staying away from the TV, social media, and phone calls while you do your thing. Close unnecessary browsers. Yes, that means Facebook and Pinterest (and your email). As a rule of thumb, if your creative energy doesn’t currently need it, keep it out of sight.
Hopefully, with these six tips, you’ll be able to better handle your plethora of creative ideas. Start slowly. It takes practice and time. With the right mindset and habits, you can pave the way for your most refreshing, creative, and productive year yet.
Photo Credit: Julia Hembree Photography