A book for clutter-ridden creatives: New Order by Fay Wolf

Joan Fieldstone

May 31, 2016

By: Joan Fieldstone, Home Improv Advocate

In: Interior Home ImprovementGeneral Remodeling

Fay Wolf has written a book on decluttering I would have liked to write if she hadn't beaten me to it.

Sometimes, you just get stuck, surrounded by chaos. How did your work space, your home, your life get so disorganized? Why does it always feel like you're chasing your tail, looking for things you use (and lose) regularly?

If you're a creative person, getting and staying organized can be an even greater challenge when you don't think in a linear fashion. You might not know where to begin. Even a single pile of clutter can be as mentally paralyzing as having a whole house full to tackle, so you ignore it…and the mess spreads.

This paralysis can spill over into your creative life. You become blocked, and you blame the clutter. But once the clutter is cleared and the space reorganized, you are free once more to let your mind run loose in the pursuit of creativity.

Simple tips for decluttering, organizing, and managing your life

After spending several months shadowing a home organizer last year, I learned a lot of the techniques Fay Wolf outlines in her book, New Order: A Decluttering Handbook for Creative Folks. Wolf, being a creative type herself, understands your pain.

One of the first things she cautions is not to strive for perfection when it comes to decluttering and organizing. Making things "better" a little at a time is the goal. If you follow her simple advice, you can learn a new habit, that of decluttering and reorganizing. You don't even have to be creative to benefit from her no-nonsense decluttering advice - nor do you have to get rid of everything and live like a monk.

In the first two chapters of this book, Wolf sets down some nuts and bolts strategies for decluttering that apply to anyone. Unlike Marie Kondo's book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which recommends decluttering your entire house once and for all in a single day, New Order suggests getting started with small steps - 15 minutes here and there, a couple of hours once a week -- whatever time you can spare. How about when you find your mind blocked?

The cumulative effect produces visible results and gets you in the habit of decluttering more often. The secret is to start and keep at it, bit by bit -- which can work well for staying on top of your creative ventures, too.

Wolf's written a very useful book in a casual style to put the reader at ease. It's chock full of tips that from my own personal experience I know can work - like setting a timer for your short decluttering and reorganizing sessions or sorting stuff into bins or just piles - things to keep, throw away, donate, recycle, or put away in another room. From start to finish, it's as if she's right beside you coaching.

She tells you:

  • How to get started
  • How to decide what to get rid of
  • What to do with the stuff you decide to get rid of
  • Quick, easy ways to reorganize what you keep
  • Resources with links for recycling and donating pretty much anything
  • How to repurpose containers that you already own for organizing instead of buying new ones

For those who have not yet mastered the paperless world, she has plenty of detailed tips for dealing with the tens of thousands of emails in your inbox as well as solutions for paper clutter. She also suggests one of my own favorite tips for overactive minds, keeping a "to do" list on your cellphone instead of leaving individual notes lying around to get lost - or worse yet, losing your focus by stopping to hunt for pad and pen every time you think of something you don't want to forget.

If you decide to buy this book or borrow it from the library, get the electronic version because she includes a lot of links to online resources. Whatever format you choose, however, New Order offers simple, direct advice for getting rid of your clutter and making your life, creative or otherwise, more manageable.

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