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Ten Tips to Stay Organized and Increase Creativity

So much is written about designing, motivation, materials, and technique that I wanted to share my experience and the importance of organizing and keeping the workspace clean.

Besides being the director of merchandising for Isaac Mizrahi, Ltd., and having to control a mess of departments as well as product information, I am a professional artist and have been covering every imaginable surface with materials since I could toddle around. I know how difficult it is to control yourself when you’re in the throes of brilliance and your mind should be free to explore, not be worried about how neat your workstation is.

However, I also know that if you make jewelry (or any art) for money, you want to work efficiently to save yourself time and therefore expense. I’ve spent what seemed like an eternity searching frantically for a particular tool that was moved by evil gnomes. “I swore I just had it!” “Am I losing my mind?” Then by the time I got back to my project, some of my mojo was gone.

I have ten tips to keeping yourself organized, which will keep your mind clear to flow and keep your sanity intact (a bit).

  1. Try to set up specific workstations for specific tasks: beading, soldering (obviously for safety issues you will keep this area far removed from anything combustible), metal work. If you don’t have the space for three workstations (I have five), get a large box with smaller organizers or a wheeling station, and place your tools and materials for each technique inside. This will provide easy access and it’s all in one place.
  2. If an object doesn’t belong in your workstation, put it away. You’re stringing beads but you have your metal polishing tools on the same table. Remove them. You will free up space and you won’t focus on the metal pieces that need sanding. * Keep all of your solutions, glue, and tumbling supplies in a separate area (specifically up high where your young children can’t reach). You will be less apt to spill or puncture bags filled with powder.
  3. When you have completed a project clean up before you begin the next one. Yes, you may have three projects started but only open the materials to one of them. Keep the other two projects sealed, out of the way, and contained. Give your concentration to one design at a time. You will work smarter and be able to tackle technical problems easier.
  4. Keep the space between your workstations open and clear. Imagine, you’re done working your metal but you need to solder a connection—you turn to move to your soldering station and you trip over your stool or tripod. Not the best way to keep your “flow” going, plus you don’t want to trip while carrying your potentially pointy tools.
  5. If your space is big enough for a bookshelf or shelves, store what you can up and out of the way. While I’m typing this I’m staring at five small boxes that found their way to the perimeter of my floor. Most are unnecessary and all should be placed up and away. I do not use them often enough to keep them handy.
  6. Store your materials in separate locations: stones, glass, silver, gold, and so on. I don’t mean to place them in different rooms but don’t throw them all on shelves, haphazardly. I go so far as to categorize my stones by size and color on their own shelf: cools, warms, browns, greens, creams, and then exotic (wood, teeth, shells). I use different sized clear containers and label them with stickers; stone name, size, purchase place, how many on strand, price, price per bead. Yes, it’s an investment and work but when it’s time to cost, you have all of your information on the container, plus it’s easy to see what’s inside when you store them upside-down on the shelf.
  7. Store your finished jewelry in your carrying pouch. What do you schlep with you to trunk shows or festivals? Store them in there. Organize it however you desire but keep them inside. Unless you need a particular piece as a sample to reproduce, don’t keep it out. There is a greater chance of it being broken or the silver tarnishing.
  8. Cork boards and dry-erase boards: use them. Course, I use my walls too. I have images and sketches and articles and pictures of my family pinned to every imaginable spot. Keep your design references in one area and your sketches in another. I like them visible to remind me what’s next and stimulate my mind.
  9. Keep your photographic equipment separate. Again, it’s best to keep your tripod, camera, and tools together as best you can. If you have a separate room to shoot, that’s best. I shoot outdoors so I keep my stuff in a corner, ready to gather up.
  10. CABLES! We live our days plugged in. I have cables for EVERYTHING; camera, computer, iPods, phone, printer … they were all jumbled in a one-dollar plastic container and it took me too long to untangle them so I placed them in their own sandwich bag. My goodness, I found that I have five iPod cables! Now, I grab the bag I need, camera or web cam, use it, then roll it up and place it back in the bag. It saves me so much time and stress.

Set aside a half hour a day (or more) and begin to clear up and stabilize your work area. You will find that you are much more productive and creative when your brain is free to create rather than search for missing items.