Keeping the Creative Process Moving Through Simple Organization

March 2015

Maureen's desk at Twirling Tiger's headquarters

Maureen’s desk at Twirling Tiger’s headquarters

“I am organized. It just doesn’t look it.” That’s an affirmation as much to myself, as it is to my daughter as she passes by my office suggesting she could help me tidy things up a bit.

In fact, my mess works for me. Not all organization tips would ever be suited for the masses, so I am going to tell you what works for a creative person.

Imagine your thoughts darting about with multiple solutions in minutes to a problem at hand. These ideas are filtered through and honed to only a few in short order. Creative outpouring of multiple ideas is reflected in the organization style on my desk, the folders on my computer, in my file cabinets, and on the pages of my daily notes.

Here are my suggestions for reining in data in folders if you fall within a creative’s profile:

• Make project folders and keep them simple and logical
• Name the folders broadly, such as XYZ Client with the year added
• Subfolders should be somewhat limited to avoid complexity
• Tuck back-burner and completed project folders away
• Keep up with filing loose documents
• Purge folders occasionally
• A stapler is a creative’s secret weapon to organization as it constrains all loose papers and napkins you have doodled upon

My note-taking style is a direct reflection of this multi-solutions-based thinking. My master to-do notebook documents weekly notes complete with illustrations. (My notes are never written on the pre-printed blue lines of my notebook, but that’s OK!) These lively pages are filled with sidebars, circled items, stars, arrows, every shaped bullet, checkmarks, and illustrations. Many of these items get a swath of color.

Here are to-do list and note-taking tips that work for me:

• Date the top of each page
• List all active projects and their status
• Note the topics of conversations for meetings
• Document to whom you speak with
• Cross out the completed projects
• Carry forward the incomplete projects on your next page
• Keep a separate top-priority note in plain view (even if it is scribbled on an envelope)

—Maureen