Seven habits that cause creative clutter in your workspace and what to do about them – a guest blog by Nadia Arbach.

Nadia Arbach on decluttering creative spaces

Nadia Arbach, our guest blogger, is a Professional Organizer and Creativity Coach. She loves motivating creative women to let go of physical clutter and mental blocks so they can tap into their creativity and achieve their creative dreams! 

Do you have creative clutter?

Is clutter taking over your creative workspace? You can have lots of great ideas, but if you’ve got creative clutter blocking you from working on your projects it can be a challenge to achieve your goals.

In my work as a professional declutterer for creative women, I’ve noticed some patterns relating to the clutter in a creative workspace. It’s all about habits – the behaviours that lead to clutter accumulating in the first place. In order to clear the clutter, you need to understand how and why it got there.

Here are the seven habits I see the most – which ones are leading to clutter in YOUR creative workspace?

Habit 1: Overbuying

You often bring extra items into your space – items that eventually become clutter because you can’t use them fast enough. Buying items because they’re on special offer or buying things that appeal to you (without having a project in mind for them) can lead to this kind of clutter.

Combat overbuying by practicing conscious spending. Set a budget, only go shopping when you know you’ll use your purchases right away, and remember that sales and special offers happen all year round. If you miss one there will be another one coming soon! Spend your money consciously and bring in only the things you know you need right now.


Habit 2: Scarcity thinking

You may tend to overinflate the value of what you have, thinking it’s worth more to you than it actually is. You’re reluctant to let go of things because they ‘might come in handy one day’ or they’re ‘perfectly good’. Scarcity thinking comes from us unconsciously repeating a story about lack that we’ve learned sometime in our life. This can be either from our own experience or our family’s experiences.

Work on transforming scarcity thinking into an abundance mindset. Look around at all the wonderful items that you have in your creative workspace that you actually use! Those tools are serving you well and you love them. You have abundance in your life. Now take a look at those ‘someday’ items. Are they really as valuable as the ones you use all the time? If not, let them go. 

Habit 3: Sentimentality

Sometimes we treat things as a substitute for a person that’s dear to us, or a happy memory of a past time in our life. If you’re reluctant to let go of these sentimental items, you may have items in your creative workspace that you would never actually use, but it feels too hard to let them go.

My suggestion is to look to the future. Take a photo of some of those nostalgic items and let them go, and then think about your future projects – the ones you really want to do. If you’ve got real heirlooms, give them an appropriate future. You could use them as art in your home instead of letting them into your creative space where they won’t be of use.

Habit 4: Sense of Duty

If you’re a creative person, you may get requests from family or friends to make them something or teach them your craft. You might feel obligated to do so even if you don’t want to. You might also be hanging on to projects or ideas because you feel the duty to ‘finish what you started’ – even if the project no longer appeals to you!

Remember to put yourself first. Make sure you have time to work on the projects that bring you joy, rather than doing favours for others or finishing an unwanted project. Find a way to say no to the requests that come in, unless you’re truly happy to do them. And here’s a challenge: look through your creative projects, find one that is no longer fun and enjoyable for you – and toss it!

Habit 5: Sense of Identity

If you have a less-than-clear sense of identity as a creator, you may not really know what you love to do. You may accumulate projects that reflect trendy styles or mimic the work of someone you admire. But then you end up not finishing them because they’re not quite your style.

To transform this identity crisis into deep self knowledge, do some thinking to find out what kind of creative elements you truly love. Incorporate them into your next project to boost your creative self-confidence.

Habit 6: Disorganised thinking

Although you may love and need all the items in your space, they’re not organized in any particular way – so you end up wasting time searching for things and are unsure of what you have.

Restore order by creating helpful systems, group items like by like, store them in clear containers, and let go of any multiples of items. Make a note of which supplies you need to top up for specific projects, and – most importantly – create a routine of putting things away as soon as you’ve finished using them.

Habit 7: Overwhelm

You have a huge amount of creative ideas and want to do them all! But you tend to start things and not follow through on finishing them, so you accumulate unfinished projects that eventually lose their appeal because you’ve left them too long.

Conquer overwhelm by creating a master project list. Make a list of everything you intend to work on: current projects, partially-completed projects, and ideas for projects. Then rate each one a scale of 1-5 for excitement level. (1 means you don’t like it much; 5 means you can’t wait to start working on it). Cross off everything that only rates a 1 or a 2 and declutter it from your workspace. From the remaining list pick a maximum of five projects to work on right now. Every time you finish one, bring another up from your list. Prioritizing your projects and limiting the number you work on at any one time will stave off the overwhelm.

So, which were your telltale habits? And how did it feel to let go of some of those items? By becoming more mindful of your habits and behaviours, you’ll start a huge transformation in both the way your creative workspace looks and the way you think about the materials and tools you own. 

Happy creating!

Nadia Arbach is a Professional Organizer and Creativity Coach. She loves motivating creative women to let go of physical clutter and mental blocks so they can tap into their creativity and achieve their creative dreams! If you enjoyed this article and would like to know more about the seven habits, you can find a free resource on Nadia's website. Nadia also has her own podcast Declutter and Organise Your Sewing Space and you can listen to Nadia on The Declutter Hub podcast.