How To Get Organized And Boost Creativity

Your bedroom’s a tip, your desk is in disarray, to-do lists are futile and the paperwork’s piling up. But it’s OK to excuse your absentmindedness– you’re a creative; disorganization is just a part of the unstructured approach you need to keep the ideas flowing. Co-workers should cut you some slack; from the chaos you’ll deliver innovative projects and ground-breaking solutions, even if the deadlines are pushed back. Right??? 


Is disorganization really necessary for creatives to flourish?

First and foremost, “creativity” is an umbrella term. The reality is, there are different types of creative. From a psychometric perspective, it is important to acknowledge that creativity/ innovation are orthogonal to organization/ conscientiousness – they exist as different personality dimensions. In other words, looking at someone’s creativity score gives you no indication of their level of disorganization. So while it will be in some people’s nature to be both creative and chaotic, for others this is not the case. Disorganization is not precondition for creativity – while some highly creative thinkers will also be disorganized, others will naturally have a far more structured approach to work.

Contrary to the popular belief that clutter and creativity go hand in hand, research suggests that creativity is actually positively related to daily planning behavior, long-term organization and time management. Those who prefer a disorganized work approach are generally less creative.

The reality is that generating creative ideas takes time, and truly original ideas are often a bit far out and require you to go beyond the traditional approach and think outside the box. In today’s highly communicative and interactive world, there are so many possible distractions that direct your attention away from your work, including a constant flow of emails and online communication.

Anything that increases the amount of time you can spend immersed in a project is likely to increase your creativity.Having a more organized approach and setting aside specific time for your planning and admin can give you more freedom to explore and expand your creative ideas without these extraneous distractions.




How does your personality affect organizational skills?

Knowing your personality type can help you to discover not only what sort of a creative you are, but also your natural organization style. For some people (Idealists, Inventors, Strategists, Visionaries) your natural approach to work is both highly creative and organized– lucky you!

However, for the people who are both disorganized and highly creative (e.g. – Dreamers and Mavericks), maximizing your creative ability is going to take some extra effort. While this could come from co-workers learning to work around your habits or input from management as suggested in this Forbes article, everyone may not be understanding and willing to bend over backwards to help you keep on top of things.

Knowledge of your personality type can help you to identify your weaknesses and give you insight into how this affects your career and workplace behavior. That being said, personality traits aren’t an excuse for maintaining bad habits. Your personality is not an immutable law, it is a way of broadly describing your behavioral tendencies. It would be counterproductive to throw your hands in the air and claim that you’re a disorganized person and there’s nothing you can do about it. To do so would be short-changing yourself and not making the most of your creative talent. Even if organization isn’t something that comes naturally to your personality type, the choice and the responsibility for tidying up your desk at the end of the day is entirely yours.

How to get organized and increase creativity

Instead of giving up on getting things together, you can leverage the information you have about your personality type to identify your weaknesses – e.g. disorganization – and note that you need to put in extra effort to monitor and address them. Make lists, set personal deadlines or targets, structure your work day or perhaps just resolve to change out of your PJs if you’re working from home – whatever works for you and your personality type.

Getting organized doesn’t necessarily mean that you should keep to a strict schedule that would satisfy a corporate boss. While that approach may work for some people, it’s not going to work for everyone. Different people have different approaches to work and various external constraints – one-size-fits-all advice will not work here. But I urge you to look closely at the way you approach your work. Once you learn to distance your creative process from your chaotic approach and realize that disorganization is not a precondition for innovation, you can adopt a more structured approach and become far more effective in doing so. Think about whether there are small changes you can make to your day that will give you more time for doing what you do best.

Ultimately, the aim is not to try to change your personality, but to work with it to achieve better balance, ultimately giving you more time to do what you do best.

Key takeaways:

  • Disorganization is not a precondition for creativity.
  • Some creative people are disorganized, some are not
  • Saying you don’t have the time to be organized is a likely contradiction – put in the effort to add direction and planning to your work routine and you’ll end up saving time
  • Creativity itself is not an excuse for disorganization and disorganized people who are also creative should not expect additional leeway because of their creative input.
  • Personality is not deterministic of behavior, but each personality type needs to work harder on certain aspects to achieve success and balance. The responsibility for making the effort is yours.
  • Organization looks different for everyone – take the time to work out how to get organized based on your personality type

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Career, skills