About a week ago I was feeling overwhelmed by life and my thoughts. It’s like the thoughts and words kept churning in an endless cycle.I could have written about how I felt for hours, but it would not have been enough to settle my mind.

As I struggled to find some clarity, I noticed that my office could use some cleaning. The bathroom needed some attention as well.

Something about that moment took me back the chaos of being newly married. There were still unpacked boxes shoved into the dreaded “everything“ room. I had to figure out how to take care of this new space, my husband, and myself. The newness of it all made me feel so overwhelmed and disoriented for a couple of years. I remember one day feeling like I had no space to think, and I couldn’t take it anymore.

So I started throwing stuff out.


And serendipitously.

Creative Introvert Creating Calm

At that same time I discovered minimalism and essentialism and all the things about simplifying,

Getting serious about cleaning up when things were chaotic changed my life. Not only was I rewarded with mental clarity, but I unexpectedly stumbled into all kinds of amazing ideas surrounding simplicity and creating space–ideas that still serve me well.

When my mind is cluttered, I need space. And when trying to create space on the inside doesn’t work–when journaling and brain dumping and talking it out still leaves me frazzled, that means it’s time to switch from trying to create space in the inner world.

It’s time to create space in the outer world as well.

That day when I was feeling so overwhelmed, I realized that I had not tried dealing with inner chaos by handling the outer chaos in awhile. So, I took the lesson from my past newlywed-self to heart, rolled up my sleeves, and started tidying up my office.

As a sensitive introvert, I find that it’s very easy to get so stuck in my mind to the point where my thoughts drown out everything else. Tidying up is a productive way to get out of my head and back in touch with my body. On top of that, as I’m working, my ideas become more organized and clear.

I typically don’t clean and organize to procrastinate, but I know people who do. On the one hand there is the shame of feeling like, “I could be working on the actual thing right now, and here I am cleaning!”

But…if cleaning and putting things away gives you the mental and emotional space to think more deeply about what you need to do, I feel that doing so will make you more efficient in the long run, even if you’re procrastinating a little.

Turning to cleaning and organizing when my mind is out of sorts is so good for me. I struggle a lot with doing chores regularly, but having emotional motivation makes things easier. Focusing on moving my body when my brain needs a break feels really good.

I’ve sometimes seen the idea floating around that as a creative person, being messy and disorganized is good. Creativity involves linking together unrelated concepts, so having a bunch of random stuff thrown around your office and studio is supposedly desirable.

Blanket statements should be avoided. They assume that everyone’s minds work in the same way, and as someone who is neurodiverse, I know that is far from the truth. Besides, our creative preferences aren’t simply biological, but they’re also emotional, tied to our past memories and emotions surrounding creativity.

My experience has been that a messy studio keeps me from wanting to work in it. I feel visually overwhelmed and confused. Also, that unexpected connecting of ideas doesn’t happen to me while I’m sitting at a cluttered desk struggling to find my stuff.

Actually, I get ideas when I’m actively cleaning my space and putting things back where they belong. In fact, there have been times where I’ve had to stop cleaning to jot down my ideas because categorizing things makes me aware of connections that I didn’t think of before.

So I guess in a round about way, being messy is good for me because then I have to clean, and cleaning sparks my creativity.


Free Resources

From Overwhelmed to Calm: A Journal for Creating Calm and Recovering from Stress for Highly Sensitive People

Paid Resources

I Want to Do All the Things: Finding Balance as a Polymath, Multipotentialite & Renaissance Soul