How to organize if you're one of the creative, right brained people!

Posted by neatfreak! Home Organization Company on

by Gretchen Gackstatter from

Creative people organize!

I am not naturally organized. Or clean, tidy, or a perfectionist. Home organization, closet organization, desk, drawer, garage, refrigerator and cabinet organization; it just comes naturally to some, but for those of us who are "out of the box" both literally and figuratively, it is a constant thorn in our side.

I will never have a Martha Stewart-like room in my home. I turned forty this year and decided it was time to admit some things to myself: My lot in life is not so unique, complex , or harried that I am unable to keep my house clean; my laundry done, my floor swept, baseboards cleaned, bathrooms sparkling, blah blah blah.

That's right. I have had to admit to myself that it is something organic within me that makes me unable, unwilling, inadequate, unmotivated, etc- in the arena of "housewife". Which, by the way, was never my goal in life, but, as it turns out, is a fairly important barometer in the way people view , judge, label you.



Here are some clues that you might also be lacking in these supposedly inborn "womanly" organizational skills. And I say that, not as a derogatory statement toward women at all, but men are not judged by the same standards. Women, however, look somehow disabled, imbalanced and/or lazy, if housecleaning does not come naturally to them.

So I am in my fortieth year of not doing these things well. My brother,on the other hand, by the time he was twelve, had started folding his underwear, and took over the ironing for my mother because she wasn't doing it to his standards. So I'm not sure which variables come into play here. Modeling? Apparently not, because my mom is quite like me in her abilities in housework and detail, but my brother is freakishly neat.( yes, I am saying that like someone who is incredibly neat has something a little wrong with them) Genetics? Maybe- I seemed to have inherited every one of my mothers traits- one of the most creative and unstructured individuals you will ever meet. While my brother may have gotten more of my father. Methodical, linear, a place for everything and everything in it's place kind of guy.


My earliest memories are of having all of my dolls and stuffed animals around me in a circle on my bed. All around me . My brother later chastised me for situating myself on the floor within what he lovingly referred to as my "nest". Papers, books, coffee, my cat, pens, surrounding me on the floor when doing my homework. I don't know why, but it's what I do. And no one taught me. This "system" is all my own. I like things out. I like things around me. I want to see everything, be comfy, cozy, and feel warm. Those are my driving motivations. Is it any wonder I can't "label" on stainless steel containers and stack them perfectly on my dust-free bookcase.......Is it any wonder- Martha?


So my whole life I have rightly felt inadequate in this area. And this issue only becomes bigger, I might add, and more intolerable to ignore. I am an a loving mom, an artist, a good teacher, loyal friend, a listener, a compassionate person . So I have some good traits in here, and I don't judge myself too harshly for my inadequacies. But really, could it be that hard to be neat and tidy?

It is that hard! Let's not sugar coat this, you fellow right brainers. This is difficult and demanding stuff we're talking about. It looks deceptively easy when you watch a pro at work or go into a sparkling clean home and think, " I could do this if I wanted to". But, really, no I couldn't. Not without a whole lot of help from the Merry Maids... and it probably would not stay for more than an hour.

How do you know if you, too, are lacking this "1950's housewife" DNA? Thank God I wasn't born in that era. I would have been sequestered to my house, not allowed in social circles. Earlier in history, some of us born with less than instinctual organizational habits may even have been hauled off and labeled witches. What about you? A witch or a goodwife? Well, here are some tell-tale signs that you can use as a litmus test:


1. We do not tend to have a good sense of time. If you've ever thought or verbalized something like -So I was at the store 20 minutes? A couple of hours? Whatever. Why does it matter anyway? Don't judge me!

2. If you have file cabinets, that you started to use as file cabinets., but somewhere along the way this went terribly wrong. You were a good girl and got your hanging files, your labels, your ball point pen and went to work with the best of intentions, yet somewhere along the way, your "urgent" file became lodged under a french press, hand weights, christmas decorations, last year's taxes or a birth certificate.

3. If , before your friend, mother in law, fill in the blank, comes over, you think you have a fairly good handle on looking like you should definitely NOT be on an episode of the "Hoarders".

The realization comes, however, that you may have missed some things as their eyes follow that drip of Hersheys chocolate on the bottom cabinet door, over to the - ugh- what is that in the corner of the floor? To the dirt on the baseboards, over to the windows, which, up until this very moment, you never noticed the cobwebs on the screens. Then they MUST get into the refrigerator for a moment to help you find something. Or open cabinets to look for non existent matching Tupperware lids. ....... And you feel like you've just been stripped bare and sentenced to a public flogging?

4. Have you always been the one whom people seem to feel the need to "help" with wardrobe issues? Collar's up, tags still on, shirt's inside out, the ketchup stain on your left boob? Bullseye! My worst was the day I accidentally wore two different shoes.... I mean, it was dark in my closet. Yep, some helpful person noticed. I was surprised as well.

5. Do you have to drink a couple of glasses of wine before dishes seem like something you actually should do? Or must you be overwhelmed with anxiety before you can be motivated scrub something completely clean? Do you ever have to come up with fantasies like being a congenial , well endowed medieval milk maid to enjoy the chores you have to do around the house?

6. If your house looks too clean, it feels "sterile" and you have an urge to create a pile somewhere. See, you have to admit these things

7. You can be home alone and somehow make the house messy.

8. You cannot imagine how one would buy cute rubber gloves just for dish washing, remember to use them when washing dishes, have a place to hang them when you're done, then remember to use them the next time you do dishes.... and not, in the spur of the moment, use them to pick up dog poop, somehow spill bacon grease inside them, find one of them in the garden next spring.- (gloves should be interchangeable, right?)...

9. You begin to do laundry; you're going to get it all done! And end up painting the bookshelves.

Any of these indicators could give you insight into your Tidy I.Q.

So these things are hard for us, right brainers. Harder for us than the average person. And we know we have these compensatory, wonderful traits of creativity, emotion, depth, intellect, etc. Benjamin Franklin and Einstein were members of the club for crying out loud- they both admitted to not being as orderly as they should have been...Then again, both men.

Still, even though we know it's not really an indictment on our value as a human being, we find ourselves in turmoil over the state of our homes. We find we are not up to the challenge like we think we should be.

Don't be ashamed! You just have to realize that the June Cleaver system does not work for everyone and that you generally have more fun in life anyway. Even if you could, you really wouldn't want to give up the things you do to keep your house immaculate.

That being said, the definition of insanity is doing things the same way expecting a different outcome. If we don't adjust or modify what is comfortable at some point, we just keep doing the same inefficient things over and over again. (Where are my keys? How could my tennis shoes have disappeared? The remote control HAS actually gotten up and run away) You know, the things that make your life a little more stressful. We don't need that, do we?

We want a home that we can function in, that doesn't humiliate us when people pop over with their roving eyeballs. So here are some ways to help assist you in keeping your interesting, creative life a little more sane, even when you tend to lean toward that right hemisphere a bit too much.

1.First, stop trying the "tried and true" filing systems. They don't work for us. Figured that out yet? Create your own.

- Forget alphabetizing. You will need to color code your files, even your papers, so that you can visually scan them and grab what you need without getting bogged down or distracted in the details.

-Get a corkboard and tack on important documents . You can use a highlighter and carry on the color coding system with this method. Again, everything is out in the open, but orderly, where you can see it, remember it, and organize it visually.

-Get stairstep file organizers for your desk for the files you use over and over again. This way, they are at your fingertips at a moments notice.

2.Get used to seeing the rooms of your house clean and organized. One of our problems with cleaning is we don't see what others see. We enjoy and look for beauty and things that stimulate us, but the mundane details are difficult. So start with your kitchen and get a "system" going.

-For one week make sure that your sink is sparkling every day. The next week, add making your bed daily. No matter what everything else looks like, you'll appreciate that sink and probably be motivated to make the rest of the kitchen look better too. Three weeks for a habit to take hold. You can do it!

3.Think about the areas that cause you the most trouble daily. Is it never having your keys and purse where you need them? Decide for one week to put your keys and purse on the chair by the door. Or put a nail in the wall. and hang them. Is it the laundry. Get it all done. Every last piece. Make it look streamlined. Just once. Show yourself you can do it and how much better it looks. A lot of this is knowing we are capable of doing it and building confidence.

4. When you have to put something down somewhere, ie. cup of coffee when you carry up a load of laundry, verbalize out loud that you are putting the cup of coffee on the table, on top of the dryer, wherever it might be. The point is that you are making yourself be conscious of what you are doing just by saying it aloud. This is important because, it's not actually that you "lost" an item... it's that you never knew where you put it in the first place.

5. Dry erase board calendars work too. That way, you won't lose your date book and miss that appointment. Get a large board and copy this months calendar. Put it where you have to look at it daily. Write down everyone's engagements - color coded, of course. Take a little extra time with this and see how much easier life becomes!

6. Keep color coded notebooks for different subjects. One for finances, one for kids discipline charts, one for personal goals you are working on. Keep them in a central place or in a larger binder and carry them with you if you want.

7. After you've established your fist clean area ( the sink) move on to the places people see the most. The entryway, the living room and guest bathroom. Make sure they look good every day, even if you have to go around with a hefty bag and throw stuff in to be sorted later that day. But "later that day" does not mean "someday" and then I accidentally put it out because I thought it was trash.

Do it your way. You can cheat a little! Problem solve and think outside the box. That's what we're good at ! Make the kids and the guy do a few more chores around the house. The main thing is to be more conscious of what you are doing, where you are putting things and why.

8. Get rid of your $#%#

And keep getting rid of it. Put a basket by the door and throw stuff in there. When it's full, take it to the car and run by Goodwill. You will feel lighter, free and more in control!

You are making your life easier, making more time for the life and people and things you love instead of wasting time rummaging through muck and disorder. Even the most hopeless cases are capable of improvement organizationally if we find the ways that work for us. Start today! One step at a time! I promise you won't be sorry. You will feel more empowered, less at the mercy of the mess-making forces that control you. And when you have more control over those organization issues, your creativity will have much more room to bloom! Let me know how it goes for you. Be kind to yourself along the way, because you have gifts, girl! You may not ever be an organizational wizard, but you can learn to do things a more efficient way, one step at a time as you become the best version of your wonderful self!


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