September is a long way off, but August is the perfect time to start thinking about all the demands and challenges of the fall. Personally, I love the feeling of having a place for everything and everything in its place, and it helps my creativity as well. When my space is ready for me and the work to be done, there’s less clutter in my mind as well. So what organizational goals will you be fulfilling this August?
1. Deal with old papers.
As a teacher, I end up with a giant stack of papers at the end of each semester. There are uncollected essays and quizzes, extra handouts, class notes, syllabi — you name it. They make a messy mountain in my inbox, and it’s a bad idea to start a new semester with that swirling around. One of my summer chores is always to go through these papers and eliminate what I don’t need.
There are all sorts of other papers a writer acquires — printouts of drafts, scribbled notes, and the like. It’s a good idea to either file these away or toss them during your August clean.
2. Put things in their place.
During the summer, I’m often rushing in and out of my apartment, going from family functions to activities, and I let the place fall apart a little. The coffee table becomes a dumping ground for miscellaneous junk from my bag; clothes start to pile up in the bedroom. It’s a good idea to spend an hour putting things where they belong. I believe that putting things in order can really help you put things in order in your mind; if something’s bothering you, a good tidy can help you resolve it. It’s a little like fishing or motorcycle maintenance in Robert Pirsig’s classic philosophical novel.
3. Tidy place, tidy mind
Cleaning, if done cheerfully and honestly, can be a creative act. It’s about practicing a little mindfulness in your life, concentrating on your work, doing a good job, getting things in order. The magic of activities like cleaning is that it can help to resolve other issues in your life. If you’re struggling as to what to do next in your story or novel, take a break and file some papers, sweep the floor, do a simple, honest activity with a concrete result. In the background, your mind will be working on that problem. And you may be surprised to find the problem resolved when you’re done sweeping. In that way, cleaning and organizing can help get your creative life in order.