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Stop your Clutter from Killing your Creativity (The steps you need to do)

Stop your Clutter from Killing your Creativity (The steps you need to do)

A disorganized work space is an antagonist; a strong enemy. It stops you from doing your art. Clutter pushes you to stall. A desk in disarray is a time and energy snatcher. So, now that you know what it is, really, you need to devise a way to kick it out of your life. Specifically, your work life.

Let’s study clutter deeply and thoroughly. Everything; a pen, paper, your phone, your audio speakers, your sticky notes  — all are stimulants  —  whether you like it or not. When you look at them your brain recognizes each one even if you’re not consciously thinking of them. Once your eyes glance at them they have an imprint on your gray matter. Analyzing it now, every bit of them is registered in your brain. All occupy space in your human hard drive. Your supercomputer (the one located between your ears) treats every one of them as data. Simply put, the clutter on your desk is also clutter in your brain. (But that’s just one aspect of clutter).

Like your PC, your brain slows down when it has too much data. That’s the reason decluttering gives your brain space to play on. When you do your art i.e. write, compose music, design, draw, paint, whatever you do, you’ll function much better if your brain has a space to move around. The free space boosts its cells to function much better and more efficiently. Making way for it to pump up creative juices needed to manufacture art.

Step #1. Clear up your brain.

If you have a long list of activities, you have to start accomplishing some of them or else you’ll be slowed down by the thought that you have not accomplished them. However, there are items in your list that can be treated as not urgent. These can be left alone for a while, but you have to do something about the ones that are urgent. Something to accomplish them pronto!

Reason behind: After you have accomplished them, you’ll find that your mind will be more free to create. If they are left undone, they clog the brain like fat clogging the heart.

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Step#2. Remove distractions.

Turn off the TV. Shut the radio off. If you really want to focus on just writing, kill the Internet as well. Just open one window on your PC, and do just one thing — write. Multitasking is a big creativity killer.

Step #3. Tidy up.

When Patsy Clairmont began her career as a writer and speaker, she picked an unexpected route. She did not research, she did not free write, she did not drink a cup of coffee, or went walking for 20 minutes. Everyone was surprised with what she did: she washed the dishes.

I can see that big question mark written all over your face. What’s really my point? She has a message for the world and she wants to put it out, but when she was about to start working on the message, she felt a strong nudge to start differently. She got out of bed and started tidying up her place.

In other terms, she cleaned up her clutter, and this very act positioned her to live more creatively. You and I should do the same. Delivering your message to the world doesn’t start on the world stage, it starts from the home front. From your closet, your office space, your desk. Eradicate all the mess there and make room for creation.

Step #4. Apply the principle: Less is More

Simplify things and achieve more. When doing your art, or any work you do for that matter, always remember to make sure you just focus on the essentials and cut off the fluff. Once you will apply this principle in your life you will create more. Talking about this belief of making more with less, I encourage you to check Leo Babauta’s book “The Power of Less”.

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Here are three takeaways from Leo Babauta’s book:

  1. In simplicity is power — choose the essential and eliminate the rest.
  2. Start with small habit changes and take baby steps.
  3. Do one thing at a time to increase your effectiveness.

Don’t take a bite you can’t chew. Stop being greedy. Accept only the assignments that you can handle well. If you take too much work, in the end, you will suffer the consequences. To really be effective, take one step at a time. Study the load that is just right for your capabilities and sanity; accept only this.

Step #5 Journal.

It’s a famous option because it works. Journaling issues which are bothering you sashays you in reorganizing your thoughts. Whether it’s your upcoming meeting, your personal life, or the struggles you are currently facing, scribbling your problems will help you produce new strategies, angles, and answers. Everything clears up when you write them down on a piece of paper, or encoded on a screen.

Write down everything you need to accomplish each day and do them, one at a time, no matter what.

Unavoidable clutter

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No matter what you do, there will always be unavoidable clutter in your work and life in general. This makes it hard to focus on just one task. Based on the findings of researchers at Princeton University’s Neuroscience Institute, the brain has a limit when it comes to processing info. So, if you can’t manage your workspace and workload properly (when it’s disorganized and overwhelming) it can bring down your overall performance. Your attention is pulled in different directions, so at its worst, it can drag you away from your art.

6. Organize your storage system.

The destination for your go-to objects is significant, but the most used items should only be the ones allowed in your work station. (This is to minimize things in your work area). Remember less is more.

Regarding your most used tools, accessibility is the name of the game. They should be located within arms length. Example: in the top most drawers of your desk, or on a shelf very close to you. With just one step, you can reach for them anytime you need to. Not so important items, on the other hand, should be filed away and must not appear at work on a daily basis.

Example: your PC must reside on top of your desk, but your writing manual (whatever you use) should only enter the scene during writing and editing sessions.

7. Begin putting out clutter-free messages.

Find a way to set restrictions in your work. This will ignite creativity.

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Sources:

Clutter Is Killing Your Creativity (And What to Do About It) by Jeff Goins

Scientists find physical clutter negatively affects your ability to focus, process information by Erin Donald

Your Messy Desk is Hurting Your Writing Career. Here’s How to Declutter by Marcy Mckay

Featured photo credit: Photo Credit: dorsia via Compfight cc via compfight.com

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Anthony Dejolde

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Last Updated on September 30, 2019

How To Write Effective Meeting Minutes (with Examples)

How To Write Effective Meeting Minutes (with Examples)

Minutes are a written record of a board, company, or organizational meeting. Meeting minutes are considered a legal document, so when writing them, strive for clarity and consistency of tone.

Because minutes are a permanent record of the meeting, be sure to proofread them well before sending. It is a good idea to run them by a supervisor or seasoned attendee to make sure statements and information are accurately captured.

The best meeting minutes takers are careful listeners, quick typists, and are adequately familiar with the meeting topics and attendees. The note taker must have a firm enough grasp of the subject matter to be able to separate the important points from the noise in what can be long, drawn-out discussions. And, importantly, the note taker should not simultaneously lead and take notes. (If you’re ever asked to do so, decline.)

Following, are some step-by-step hints to effectively write meeting minutes:

1. Develop an Agenda

Work with the Chairperson or Board President to develop a detailed agenda.

Meetings occur for a reason, and the issues to be addressed and decided upon need to be listed to alert attendees. Work with the convener to draft an agenda that assigns times to each topic to keep the meeting moving and to make sure the group has enough time to consider all items.

The agenda will serve as your outline for the meeting minutes. Keep the minutes’ headings consistent with the agenda topics for continuity.

2. Follow a Template from Former Minutes Taken

If you are new to a Board or organization, and are writing minutes for the first time, ask to see the past meeting minutes so that you can maintain the same format.

Generally, the organization name or the name of the group that is meeting goes at the top: “Meeting of the Board of Directors of XYZ,” with the date on the next line. After the date, include both the time the meeting came to order and the time the meeting ended.

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Most groups who meet do so regularly, with set agenda items at each meeting. Some groups include a Next Steps heading at the end of the minutes that lists projects to follow up on and assigns responsibility.

A template from a former meeting will also help determine whether or not the group records if a quorum was met, and other items specific to the organization’s meeting minutes.

3. Record Attendance

On most boards, the Board Secretary is the person responsible for taking the meeting minutes. In organizational meetings, the minutes taker may be a project coordinator or assistant to a manager or CEO. She or he should arrive a few minutes before the meeting begins and pass around an attendance sheet with all members’ names and contact information.

Meeting attendees will need to check off their names and make edits to any changes in their information. This will help as both a back-up document of attendees and ensure that information goes out to the most up-to-date email addresses.

All attendees’ names should be listed directly below the meeting name and date, under a subheading that says “Present.” List first and last names of all attendees, along with title or affiliation, separated by a comma or semi-colon.

If a member of the Board could not attend the meeting, cite his or her name after the phrase: “Copied To:” There may be other designations in the participants’ list. For example, if several of the meeting attendees are members of the staff while everyone else is a volunteer, you may want to write (Staff) after each staff member.

As a general rule, attendees are listed alphabetically by their last names. However, in some organizations, it’s a best practice to list the leadership of the Board first. In that case, the President or Co-Presidents would be listed first, followed by the Vice President, followed by the Secretary, and then by the Treasurer. Then all other names of attendees would be alphabetized by last name.

It is also common practice to note if a participant joined the meeting via conference call. This can be indicated by writing: “By Phone” and listing the participants who called in.

4. Naming Convention

Generally, the first time someone speaks in the meeting will include his or her name and often the title.

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For example, “President of the XYZ Board, Roger McGowan, called the meeting to order.” The next time Roger McGowan speaks, though, you can simply refer to him as “Roger.” If there are two Rogers in the meeting, use an initial for their last names to separate the two. “Roger M. called for a vote. Roger T. abstained.”

5. What, and What Not, to Include

Depending on the nature of the meeting, it could last from one to several hours. The attendees will be asked to review and then approve the meeting minutes. Therefore, you don’t want the minutes to extend into a lengthy document.

Capturing everything that people say verbatim is not only unnecessary, but annoying to reviewers.

For each agenda item, you ultimately want to summarize only the relevant points of the discussion along with any decisions made. After the meeting, cull through your notes, making sure to edit out any circular or repetitive arguments and only leave in the relevant points made.

6. Maintain a Neutral Tone

Minutes are a legal document. They are used to establish an organization’s historical record of activity. It is essential to maintain an even, professional tone. Never put inflammatory language in the minutes, even if the language of the meeting becomes heated.

You want to record the gist of the discussion objectively, which means mentioning the key points covered without assigning blame. For example, “The staff addressed board members’ questions regarding the vendor’s professionalism.”

Picture a lawyer ten years down the road reading the minutes to find evidence of potential wrongdoing. You wouldn’t want an embellishment in the form of a colorful adverb or a quip to cloud any account of what took place. Here’s a list of neutral sounding words to get started with.

7. Record Votes

The primary purpose of minutes is to record any votes a board or organization takes. Solid record-keeping requires mentioning which participant makes a motion — and what the motion states verbatim — and which participant seconds the motion.

For example, “Vice President Cindy Jacobsen made a motion to dedicate 50 percent, or $50,000, of the proceeds from the ZZZ Foundation gift to the CCC scholarship fund. President Roger McGowan seconded the motion.”

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This vote tabulation should be expressed in neutral language as well. “The Board voted unanimously to amend the charter in the following way,” or “The decision to provide $1,000 to the tree-planting effort passed 4 to 1, with Board President McGowan opposing.”

Most Boards try to get a vote passed unanimously. Sometimes in order to help the Board attain a more cohesive outcome, a Board member may abstain from voting. “The motion passed 17 to 1 with one absension.”

8. Pare down Notes Post-Meeting

Following the meeting, read through your notes while all the discussions remain fresh in your mind, and make any needed revisions. Then, pare the meeting minutes down to their essentials, providing a brief account of the discussion that summarizes arguments made for and against a decision.

People often speak colloquially or in idioms, as in: “This isn’t even in the ballpark” or “You’re beginning to sound like a broken record.” While you may be tempted to keep the exact language in the minutes to add color, resist.

Additionally, if any presentations are part of the meeting, do not include information from the Powerpoint in the minutes. However, you will want to record the key points from the post-presentation discussion.

9. Proofread with Care

Make sure that you spelled all names correctly, inserted the correct date of the meeting, and that your minutes read clearly.

Spell out acronyms the first time they’re used. Remember that the notes may be reviewed by others for whom the acronyms are unfamiliar. Stay consistent in headings, punctuation, and formatting. The minutes should be polished and professional.

10. Distribute Broadly

Once approved, email minutes to the full board — not just the attendees — for review. Your minutes will help keep those who were absent apprised of important actions and decisions.

At the start of the next meeting, call for the approval of the minutes. Note any revisions. Try to work out the agreed-upon changes in the meeting, so that you don’t spend a huge amount of time on revisions.

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Ask for a motion to approve the minutes with the agreed-upon changes. Once an attendee offers a motion, ask for another person in the meeting to “second” the motion. They say, “All approved.” Always ask if there is anyone who does not approve. Assuming not, then say: “The minutes from our last meeting are approved once the agreed-upon changes have been made.”

11. File Meticulously

Since minutes are a legal document, take care when filing them. Make sure the file name of the document is consistent with the file names of previously filed minutes.

Occasionally, members of the organization may want to review past minutes. Know where the minutes are filed!

One Caveat

In this day and age of high technology, you may ask yourself: Wouldn’t it be simpler to record the meeting? This depends on the protocols of the organization, but probably not.

Be sure to ask what the rules are at the organization where you are taking minutes. Remember that the minutes are a record of what was done at the meeting, not what was said at the meeting.

The minutes reflect decisions not discussions. In spite of their name, “minutes,” the minutes are not a minute-by-minute transcript.

Bottom Line

Becoming an expert minutes-taker requires a keen ear, a willingness to learn, and some practice, but by following these tips you will soon become proficient.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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