Make Room for Success: De-clutter

The fall art season is just around the corner. Imagine how nice it would feel to get your business in order before the rush begins.

Why not spend August clearing out, cleaning up, and making room for your success?

Susan Wells office-before Susan Wells office-after

Susan Wells snapped these Before and After pics of her office space
for the last Get Organized class.

Clutter gets in your way. It steals your attention away from more important matters.

If you’re having trouble keeping up with information, meeting deadlines, or are feeling overwhelmed, it’s time to de-clutter.

As you’re debating what to save and what to scrap, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you love it? If so, keep it and find a forever place for it.
  • Do you need it for your business or personal use? If you can’t do a quick Web search to find it online, keep it and find the perfect place for it. That place is not in a pile on your desk. It’s filed in a system where you can easily find it when it’s needed.
  • Have you kept it around for 5-10 years in hopes that you might one day use it, yet that day has never come? If so, recycle it.
  • When is the last time you used it? Has better technology or information surpassed its use?
  • Would you miss it if it were gone? Really, would you miss it?

The first step to getting organized is de-cluttering, which means recycling, donating, or trashing. There’s no sense moving stuff around only to find out later that you don’t want or need it.

After you’ve de-cluttered, you can create systems to organize, file, and retrieve. That’s what we’re doing starting August 10 in the 
Get Organized class. Join us for peace of mind!

If you found this helpful, I’d love for you to share using any or all of the options below.

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19 comments to Make Room for Success: De-clutter

  • This activity is going to comprise a great deal of my studio plans for the Artists Conspiracy August focus.

    I think one of the biggest obstacles for me is books. I was trained to respect books almost to the point of reverence. I suspect because I grew up with parents keenly aware of book burnings that went on both here in the states and in other countries. Books represent knowledge, freedom, and power and to willfully destroy them was akin to oppressing people.

    Clearly that’s not the case any more, but still, if the book has any meaning at all and is not doused in mildew, I have a hard time tossing it in the trash. Besides, my town won’t collect books as either trash or recycling and the public library won’t take textbooks. Not to mention which ones are actually worth something. How do I deal with all the books (a few of which are over 100 years old) that were my parents’ and are now in my control?

    My idea at present is to donate fiction (newer than 1970) and box up the rest (newer than 1940). But where to put the boxes?

    (Oh, and I am keeping my Schaum’s Series because advanced math and physics is fun.)

    • Beth West

      I usually take the books I have that are still in good condition, but that I don’t need anymore to Goodwill. I have benefited greatly through the years by picking up books I need for a good price and hope that my donations will in turn help others. I love books too, but if you don’t need it anymore it could be time to find it a new home.

    • The AAUW, the American Association of University Women, have book sales all across the country. They take donations and have yearly massive book sales to fund their scholarship program. If there is a branch close to you, they are a wonderful organization to support. And boy are their book sales fun to go to.

      • Thanks Beth and Catherine! Those are excellent suggestions!

        Strange how my academic email gets spam from “Who’s Who” for university educators but not a word from AAUW.

        • Darn, the AAUW in my region doesn’t do this. Apparently they “are not set up” for it. Bummer. But I did find something online that involves “releasing [...books] into the wild.” I will look into that.

          Donating to Goodwill is still an option.

  • In June -July I had an exhibition of my mixed media textile work at a local gallery. While the show was up I took the opportunity to clean up my studio and office space after the crazy show prep mess was over.
    I came up with a new way to display/organize some of the fabric that I use that was both attractive and functional (will create a blog post about it). I also reorganized many other materials. All of this gave me the mental space to think about the next body of work I want to create and start making lists for the various stages of production.
    I have vowed to finsh several UFOs before starting the new work. I also used the time to organize a plan to do additional promotion of my current work.
    Now that the show is over a few pieces are coming back to the studio so I will have to organize a bit more to find storage, particularly for the largest piece. I am going to get creative and figure out how to find a home for this work… more planning!! Any ideas would be appreciated.

  • David M. Bender

    Good timing for this article. I have a policy of cleaning out the office and the studio every 3 weeks. Everything from materials that have been hanging out for 3-6 months to paperwork.

    The paper shredder is one of my favorite tools. I have very little personal sentimental value to the things in the studio so if I don’t see an immediate use for it or a use in the very near future. It goes out the door. The more “stuff” there is the more likely things can get lost.

  • I’m a little ahead on this mainly because teaching jobs are gearing up to start soon. Last spring, I was overwhelmed between lectures and studio practice and I’m not going there again.

  • I’ve realized that I need to build/bill one day into each project for studio clean up. The job isn’t over until the office and shop are clean and ready to go forward on the next project.
    I hated this slogan when I first heard it, but it’s helped me get rid of all sorts of “interesting STUFF”: GIVING UP IS GROWING UP. The stuff may please my magpie eyes but will it distract me from my goals? If so, Out it goes.

  • Your blog is very insightful on how an artist should market himself/herself. Along the lines of organization, simple things like the layout of your blog are very effective!

  • Someone once said to me, “When in doubt, throw it out.”

  • All these are such great ideas…that I so need. My biggest problem is lack of storage and lack of (studio) space…really.Thanks for the encouragments; I’ll stick with it until all is better.

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  • OMG – I love to view other artists workspace. (um, real workspaces unenhanced by magazine photo crews) Thanks for sharing! Clean-up must be in the air this season.

  • I love the before and after photos as they are truly inspiring! I forgot to mention that before and I meant to.

  • That reorganizing job was so long ago and believe it or not, my space remains organized! Thanks Alyson:)

  • I have a 5′ by 8′ pegboard in my art studio / home office, and it keeps me on track!! I hang my finished and unfinished work, my calender, etc. See my studio here: http://brightboldbeautiful.blogspot.com/2010/04/art-studio-home-office.html

  • [...] It’s time to tie a bow around 2011 and prepare for 2012 by organizing your systems. [...]