First up, be realistic here. It might not be possible to de-clutter everything, but it’s still worth creating one place that is clutter-free, even if the rest of your house, room or studio is a tip. Where you work is more important than where you keep your wellies, so get your desk sorted before tackling the understairs cupboard.
2. Throw it away
Clothes, books, electronic equipment – everyone’s got their vice. Getting rid of your junk can free up space for other things, like clothes you actually wear and cameras that work. There are a whole heap of organisations eager to relieve you of your accumulated crap. Or raise some funds by selling old textbooks on eBay or clothes on the ASOS Marketplace.
3. Make your bed
It’s the cheat’s way to making a room look tidy. Just try not to treat it as a new work surface.
4. Digitise your stuff
Not everyone works best at a computer. But notebooks take up more space than a JPEG or PDF. Scanning old notebooks, and keeping them all in one place on your computer can free up a lot of space for new work. While you’re at it, remember to…
5. Date your work
As a creative, you are responsible for keeping your archive. This means keeping cuttings, reviews, records of exhibitions and – if you are a visual artist – making sure your work is stored safely. Dating your work also makes staying on top of ongoing projects easier.
6. Separate your student work from your professional work
One for recent graduates, this. It may be that your student work has a life-span beyond your undergrad days, but if you are presenting yourself as a professional, it helps to feel like a professional – so put all your professional work in one place, and file your old uni work somewhere else. Until six months ago I had just the one folder on my desktop labelled “Work” containing everything from A-level history coursework to current freelance projects. If this sounds familiar, you might like to…
7. Use folders
This goes for offline and online. Sort your life into manageable chunks. Create folders for past work, current projects, and ideas for future projects. If you work across multiple devices, try using Dropbox or Google Drive to sync your work and home computers, so that you take your clutter-free workspace with you wherever you are.
8. Re-vamp your desktop
A computer desktop is like a hotel reception area: it’s got lots of doors leading off it, a clock in one corner and some well dodgy wallpaper. You probably spend a lot of time there, so you want to make sure that your reception area is welcoming. This means getting rid of the icons and programme shortcuts you don’t use.
9. Clear your walls
Posters can brighten up a dingy room – but they can also get tatty round the edges and become so part of the furniture that you don’t notice when they are past their best before date. If you feel the need to express yourself through your bedroom walls, try framing your posters instead. If you’ve got a studio, your walls are a ready-made exhibition space – so use them as a place to display your wares.
10. Sort your inbox
Again, it’s folders isn’t it? But while you’re at it, take 20 minutes to unsubscribe from mailing lists. Try using Unroll.me to unsubscribe from unwanted subscription emails in one fell swoop.
11. Dedicate time to admin
Admin needs love and care and one spring clean a year isn’t enough to keep it happy. Allocate the same half hour a day for doing the day-to-day maintenance tasks needed to keep the clutter at bay – things like clearing your desktop and sorting receipts. Decide on a time when you are least likely to be up against a deadline or distracted by other commitments.