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RCASA Art Therapy Thursday: Organizing for the Creative Person

In Art therapy, Outreach on April 1, 2010 at 8:00 am

I bought the book Organizing for the Creative Person by  Dorothy Lehmkuhl and Delores Lamping about six years ago at museum gift shop in Washington and having had it on my to do list  for a while, I finally took a look at it as I have been contemplating doing some organizing.

Organizing for the Creative Person accomplishes two things.  It reassures unorganized persons that there is a scientific reason that their houses are cluttered and they never arrive anywhere on time.  And it provides some ways in which they can become more organized, based on their strengths rather than fighting an uphill battle with their weaknesses.  The nice thing about this book is that the authors never make assumptions about what one should be doing, as if this was the moral issue as it is often posed to be, but rather… here are some ideas that might be helpful.

The science behind the book is the presumption that those who are right brain dominate tend to have strengths in non-verbal expression and abstract thinking  but weakness in areas that require sequence, structure and detail , the prime organization skills.  Those who are left brain dominate generally do not need help with organization and so the advice in this book is tailored to the right brain dominant person who is comfortable with creative activities that draw on diverse elements and spontaneous ideas but not in planning, following regimens, and maintaining systems.

Several areas of organization are discussed, including the office, the home, and that dimension most right brainers pretend doesn’t exist at all: time.   At the office more and better filing cabinets are not the answer, for people who are visually oriented need to have their information where they can see it and it is easily available.  Multi-compartment or cubby-hole units are effective for papers as well as regular sorting and disposing of what is no longer needed.  Several sorting systems are discussed with an emphasis on putting like with like and on prioritizing.  One hard and fast rule: immediately throw away the envelopes after you take the mail out, as they hide what is inside.  Another tip is to use staples instead of paperclips as other papers get accidently caught in the clips and become “lost.”

At home, group items that are used together, such as a coffee preparation items, a sewing spot, or a “getting ready for work” area.  In the bedroom, if you prefer to hang things on door knobs and on the backs of chairs, incorporate this style of storage, along with lots of open shelving from floor to ceiling.

Suggestions for scheduling and planning include finding out how long it actually takes to do the things that make one habitually late.  It also talks about busywork that distracts from the real project and about how to choose among the myriad of choices when working on a project.

There are so many tips on every page of this book that feel workable, one itches to get started organizing.  After reading the book, I was inspired to put all my son’s school work materials together in a shelving unit and to clear off a kitchen countertop, throwing away bottles, etc. that were not being used.  Along with these small steps in making my house neater, I realized each person has to create the organization system that works for them, rather than believing that traditional left brain created systems are the only way.  

The right and left hemispheres of the brain have different functions.  The left brain processes information in sequential order and deals with logic, time orientation detail and structure.  The right brain processes are non-verbal, abstract, simultaneous and unlimited. Everyone uses both parts of their brain simultaneously but usually one side of the brain dominates.  Individuals whose left brain tends to dominate  And, based on that science  it provides some fresh ideas of how  to bring order to the chaos in new ways.

Beth Peacock

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