Keep Your Toys Out

“One of my most important ‘Secrets of Adulthood’: Outer order contributes to inner calm.”

Gretchen Rubin

I have a hard time creating if there’s a barrier between me and the tools and supplies I need to create. For example, if my guitar is in a case, I’m much less likely to play it. Or if my sketchbook isn’t within reach, I might not draw at all.

This probably sounds ridiculous. You could say I’m just being lazy, but I don’t think that’s what’s going on (maybe 25% lazy 😉). There’s a kernel of insight here somewhere. The problem isn’t that my tools are tucked away and hard to get to, rather, they are out of sight.

It’s the classic “out of sight, out of mind” phrase.

Any barriers that come between you and your art is friction that slows down your momentum ever so slightly.

If my equipment isn’t at hand, I’m less likely to use it. If an idea pops in my head, but I don’t have any paper or device to put it down on, it’s most likely going to be gone in twenty minutes.

I find it good to be ready to create moments notice when inspiration strikes. And more importantly, when it comes time to work on your art, you have everything prepped and ready to go— Creative Mise en place.

While I’m taking a break from work, I want to be able to reach over and jot a few writing ideas down, or grab a guitar and let my creativity wander. Otherwise, I’d just be mindlessly scrolling on the internet.

The goal is to make things as easy as possible to initiate.

The same works for any habit or practice. For example, having your shoes and workout clothes visible and ready or keeping sweets out of the house so you’re less tempted to reach for the Ice Cream when your sweet tooth starts calling.

Q: What are some barriers between you and your art/habit you can remove?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1021

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Breathing Room

“That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

Steve Jobs

Clutter is a very visible thing. You can see it stuffed on bookshelves and overflowing on dressers. You can see it pilled in closets, hanging off unused at-home exercise machines, and clustered in junk drawers. You can even see it in our digital lives: overflowing emails, apps, friends, tabs, Desktop screens, notes, and files.

But what makes clutter feel like clutter?

Is it because things are unorganized and ‘out of place’ compared to where you would expect them? Or maybe it’s because things are too many things compared to the space available?

My vote is on clutter feels like clutter because it doesn’t have the space it (whatever it is) needs to be useful and comfortable (for lack of a better word).

Think about it—

A desk isn’t very useful if you’re stuff is everywhere and so overpowering and distracting that you can’t actually sit down (or stand up) and work unless you wade through all the clutter first.

A bookshelf isn’t very enlightening if you can’t find the book you are looking for, or worse—you see the book but its under a hundred things and can’t be removed unless you want to be squashed like a bug as books and piles of crap fall on you to your doom.

Our possessions need breathing room—otherwise, they lose their usefulness.

The same is true for most (if not all) things in our lives too.

It’s hard to be a good freelancer if you juggling a dozen clients while also working on two side hustles.

It’s difficult to create anything if you spend all your time doing everything but working on your art.

It’s impossible to get work done if you spend all your time jumping from meeting after meeting or spending half the day sporadically responding to email.

And most importantly, it’s tough being a good friend, or skilled professional, or partner, or sibling, or father, if you spread yourself too thin.

Everything needs a little breathing room to work properly. Without it, we’re also gonna be running late, busy, overworked, and unfulfilled.

Q: How can you add more breathing room into your life? Alt: What can you remove to give yourself more breathing room?

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

Albert Einstein

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1020

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Creative Clutter

“Simplicity is not the absence of clutter, that’s a consequence of simplicity. Simplicity is somehow essentially describing the purpose and place of an object and product. The absence of clutter is just a clutter-free product. That’s not simple.”

Jonathan Ive

Clutter is in the eye of the beholder. One person’s organization is another person’s junk. What matters, of course, is what works best for each of us. Different places can inspire/offer different ideas.

What makes you feel the most creative in your environment?

Is it having everything exactly in its right place?
Is it having everything stacked in piles?
Is it having a thread-bare room with nothing in it except the task at hand?

For me, I feel the most creative when my tools are easily accessible, within reach and ready to go.

Personally, nothing kills a moment of inspiration more than a guitar closed off in its case. Paper needs to be ready. Pens, notecards, post-its, and other supplies are all on stand-by. Instruments are out and plugged in. When an idea strikes, all I want to do is flip a switch and start creating. It may sound silly, but it’s true. Anything between the idea/feeling and the act of creating is friction that could lead to reluctance or inaction.

Am I just being lazy? Perhaps. I think of it more as being ridiculously practical. Do what works for you. Your home, your office, your desk, your garage—whatever you have access to—this is something you can change and control.

You want to set up your environment for success. If you find yourself unmotivated to work on your art, then there’s something behind the scenes causing that feeling.

The things that we surround ourselves with can either enable or distract us from our calling.

Think of it like putting a plate of cookies in front of you and then telling yourself not to eat them. You’re either going to be thinking about cookies all day (and wasting time and energy) or you’re going to be eating cookies even though that wasn’t what you wanted. Neither of which— cookies, no cookies— was the work you were hoping to do.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #928

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