When we first looked at our new house three years ago, I immediately fell in love with the little bright bonus room and its multitude of windows, a skylight, and its own full bathroom. Without hesitation I claimed it as my art studio. With the keys finally in our hands, I stood in that room, affectingly gazing at it spaciousness and thinking of all the creative fun I would have once the studio was all set up. Yet as the room filled up with more and more moving boxes, all labeled “Kasia’s Studio”, the fun task of setting up my new creative space quickly became overwhelming and the goal changed to “just unpack those damn boxes.” A few remained tucked in the corner, eventually forgotten, only to be rediscovered with the joy of a child on Christmas day three years later, as I returned to re-organizing my studio, one minute at a time.
Not Enough Time and Other Excuses
There’s never enough time. I just need a big chunk of free time. I need…like…a week to myself. Those were all excuses that kept taunting me for way too long when thinking about cleaning up my space, eating up not only my creative time, but also my motivation to create or organize. Here’s a reality check. Unless you’re retired, your kids are grown with lives of their own, and your only responsibility is watching the housekeeper clean your toilets and feed your dogs, there will always be something seemingly more important to do than organize your studio. Like clean your toilets. Life isn’t a college art class and 4-hour chunks of time are a limited commodity now. So get off the “there’s not enough time” wagon and hop aboard the “one-minute at a time” train.
The Power of a Circus Minute
My house often feels like a circus, which is ok because I’ve always enjoyed going to the circus and this just means I didn’t have to run away from home to join one. With a highly active, curious toddler who’s always on the go, three older stepsons with busy schedules, a realtor husband working around the clock, and three dogs that move in synchrony with me if I even move an inch, getting anything creative done for myself can be a circus act in itself. So I finally learned to embrace the power of a minute.
If you have kids, then you can relate how long a minute can feel as you watch the seconds on a microwave tick down ever so slowly while heating up food for a baby that suddenly realizes he’s realllly hungry. Whether it feels like it or not, that minute will be over fast, and hearing your kid chomp on his food will leave you breathing a sigh of relief. Decluttering a single shelf of old papers and filling up a trash bag in a single minute can have the same feeling of accomplishment and relief. So when you catch yourself standing aimlessly, in transition from one activity to the next, run over to your studio and throw out another piece of paper, or put another book on the shelf, or throw all those brushes laying around in a jar…you get the picture.
Chunk It Up
Organizing a little at a time can still feel overwhelming when you don’t know where to begin. Clutter here, clutter there, you just want to see it ALL gone. Take one minute (get your stop-watch out! go!) to glance over your room. Which areas are preventing you from doing creative work right now? Which areas are not imperative to your productivity? Start with the space that will allow you to continue working while organizing as you go. In my studio, my first objective was to create a clutter-free drawing and painting zone, which means everything had to come off the drafting table and the easel. Within a minute, my studio couch was covered with sketchpads, pencils, paints, and containers of all sorts. My dogs weren’t all too happy about losing their lounge space, but I assured them it was temporary.
Now that the table was ready for action, I could switch between creative and cleaning mode much easier. My next objective was clearing the couch (those sad puppy eyes get me every time!) so I picked a shelf and worked on decluttering that to make room for all the sketchpads. Working a minute (or few) at time, it took me a couple weeks to get through that one shelf, but once I saw the wall behind it the sense of accomplishment kicked me into high gear. Now I was on a roll, hitting that clutter every free moment I could.
Organizing your studio will be a work in process, and it may take several weeks or even months, depending on how crazy your life is. That’s ok! Celebrate the little wins by giving yourself more creative time. Or go out for ice cream. My studio is a work in process, and I will probably forever rearrange furniture because I love to change things up and randomly rearrange stuff. But having a clear drafting table and an easel set up and ready to go, with all my supplies organized nearby, is what keeps me motivated to sit down and get creative.
Happy organizing and happy creating!