studio improvements

There are so many places to look for information on productivity online that it feels like there is a system for everything. There are studies to tell me that keeping a TODO list will save me time and all manner of strategies for keeping my email inbox empty. I can find applications that make mind maps and transform them into lists of actions and will manage my projects from conception to implementation. It’s all so very attractive because I have a strict and regimented limit on my creative time. But no matter how much time I spend with this “productivity porn” I come back to the fact that it takes very little to keep me on track and though the items are few, they are required. A windfall and some minor changes have highlighted what a difference a few minor changes can make.

My dad and stepmom are preparing for a move across town (as opposed to across the country) and as is their custom, they are lightening their load before they go. They’re pretty freakin’ organized and as a result any item without a clear function or reason for its existence is purged. In this iteration I acquired a chunk of a very nice sectional desk for my studio. There’s a corner piece and a bullnose table that connects to it. This addition has taken dead space in my studio and made it usable. It has also replaced a simple folding table with something that looks much more professional. It has, in the parlance of our home, reduced the hobo factor.

With the new desk in place, I started to see the need to get organized and clear out some stuff that had lost its purpose. I had a lot of old tech gear in the closet that was doing nothing but taking up space. There were cables and notebooks and widgets that were collecting dust and following me from house to house. It all had to go and once that process started, it was impossible to stop.


There were some suboptimal features to my studio that were addressed with a small investment of time and money. The blinds on the window didn’t go up or down properly. I got new miniblinds. My closet had no door. I hung one. The shelves were loaded with sentimental toys and gadgets. I gave them to the boy. The windowsill was covered with tools. I put them in the closet (and closed the door!). Anything that brought a sense clutter or detracted from the appearance of the room was either pitched or removed from sight.

[Note: I put very little in the trash. Most of this stuff will be going to charitable organizations after our neighborhood garage sale. Just sayin’ that I’m doing my best to be a good hippie!]

The result of all of this is that my studio looks far more professional. There are still plenty of personal knicknacks, photographs, and things that inspire me, but the clutter is gone. There is a sense of calm when I enter the room. I’m finding that this is a requirement for my sustained creative work. With fewer distractions it’s easier for me to remember why it is that I’m in there and to get down to business. In short, the room expresses its purpose. It’s also far more inviting; like having a creative oasis next to the guest bathroom.

There is very little time in my day for creative work. In order to be happy, I have to squeeze everything I can from every second that I’m in there with the door closed because when the door swings shut, the timer starts. All obstacles need to be cleared before that golden hour and the environment needs to be as close to perfect as I can get it because I know that I won’t be.

Future improvements involve putting candles in the weird monkey candelabra and shifting some of the things that are hung on the walls. Orderly doesn’t mean less fun or lacking in ambience. In fact, things like keeping the lights low and having something to play with while I listen are just as important as a clean work surface or a tuned guitar. Now that the retooling of the room is complete, the fine tuning can begin.

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