If you want to be a productive, prolific creative person, you need to get organized and stay organized. Your organizational scheme may not look like anybody else’s: to the outside world, your studio may look completely disorganized. But if you know where things are, that’s what matters. And if you don’t know where things are, that’s a huge problem. You’ll face daily frustrations that can easily grow into full-fledged resistance and blockage. Disorganization is exhausting.
As part of your plan to get and stay organized, you might want to try the following. Keep two different, separate to-do lists for each creative project, one that ticks off the items the work itself needs and the other that identifies your world-related tasks.
Say that you’re writing a novel. Your work-related list might have items on it like “Edit chapter two,” “Fix that plot hole in chapter nine,” and “Reconsider the ending, which isn’t working too well.” Your world-related list might have items on it like, “Gather information on literary agents,” “Write to Max for an early endorsement,” and “Brainstorm a really interesting website.”
If you’re a painter, your work-related list might include items like, “Rethink my subject matter choices,” “Carefully touch up ‘Shadow #6’,” and “Finish ‘Shadow #9’.” Your world-related list might include items like, “Craft a good sales pitch for my commissioned work,” “Write to Mary to see if she might want to do an article on me,” and “Apply for that artist-in-residence residency in Maine.”
It may irritate you that you need to keep so many lists and it may strike you as the antithesis of “being creative” to have to create and maintain all these “mundane” lists. But every contemporary creative person is living a life very different from some ivory tower or storybook life of long ago. We are obliged to deal with a million bits, both with regard to the demands of the work and the realities of the world. To meet these demands and realities, we need to stay as organized as possible. This two-list approach is a tactic that can help.
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Eric Maisel is the author of 50+ books. You can learn more about him at www.ericmaisel.com, subscribe to all of his blog posts at https://authory.com/ericmaisel, and write him at firstname.lastname@example.org