Posted by: Liz Massey | July 11, 2009

Surf’s Up: Top Creativity Links for July 11, 2009


Photo courtesy of SXC.

Is it a collection or clutter?

It’s the middle of the summer, when the heat or the rain sends many of us running for the comfort of our air-conditioned dwellings. Once we’re there, though, we may notice all the stuff we’ve been meaning to sort, organize or put away, and therein lies a quandary.

The fabulous Unclutter blog recently featured a funny 4-minute video by writer-producer Marc Sotkin who is the creator of the website Boomer Alley. It’s a sweet look at how our memorabilia can become an impediment to living in the present moment. If you are over 50 and a Baby Boomer, you will find this video hilarious. If you are over 40 (as I am) and a member of Generation X, you will at least snicker at the cultural references and pictures Sotkin throws in. If you are under 30, well, the message still applies, but the “collections” used as illustrations probably won’t make you laugh as hard.

10 uncluttering things to do every day

Following on the heels of posting the great video, Unclutterer also posted this list of things to do every day to keep one’s life less cluttered. Many of them are aimed at a general audience, but one or two really hit home for creative folk trying to de-clutter their lives in order to create.

One particularly helpful “hack” relates to setting your desk (or easel, or music stand) for tomorrow:

“Right before you head home from work, be sure to clear your desk and have it ready for tomorrow. If you have an early morning meeting with handouts, make sure that the handouts are easily accessible and ready to go. In case of an emergency, it should be simple for a co-worker to come into your office and quickly find the materials. Even if you don’t have an early meeting, your desk should be set so that when you arrive to work you can get right to work.”

Another tip sends readers to check out the concept of planning a “perfect day”. The minute-by-minute scheduling is more than most artists I know can bear, but the general concept of listing must-do items, want-to-do items, as well as routines that should be followed, is worth considering. It also draws on research that indicates visualizing an experience enhances performance—even when the performance is simply getting through the day with enough energy to paint or write or dance.

Why you need to fail

Consultant and speaker Peter Bregman, writing on the Harvard Business School’s How We Work blog, makes some excellent points about the necessity of failure in creating something new, whether that be muscle mass through weight training, a business idea, or a work of art.

He mentions Stanford University Professor Carol Dweck’s research on mindset and asserts that,

“A growth mindset is the secret to maximizing potential….Want to increase your own performance? Set high goals where you have a 50-70 percent chance of success. According to psychologist and Harvard researcher the late David McClelland, that’s the sweet spot for high achievers. Then, when you fail half the time, figure out what you should do differently and try again. That’s practice. And according to recent studies, 10,000 hours of that kind of practice will make you an expert in anything. No matter where you start.”

Overall, the article is a nice pep talk for pushing yourself beyond “safe” boundaries in your creativity and using your creative failures as grist for later, more successful efforts.

How To Create a Culture of Innovation

In this blog post, business innovation speaker and consultant Stephen Shapiro provides a nice walk-through of ways companies can build an innovation process they can count on.

He tells readers that thinking of innovative companies in solely in terms of the products they produce is incorrect.

“A culture of innovation is more than new ideas. It needs to be repeatable, predictable, and sustainable.  This only happens when you treat innovation like you treat all other capabilities in your business.  This means having, amongst other things, a defined process.”

To create that process, Shapiro says, a company must be constantly developing a portfolio of problems/challenges, a portfolio of potential solutions, and a portfolio of projects focused on actually implementing the potential solutions.

I especially like that Shapiro mentions internal and external crowdsourcing as an approach to developing solutions—this phenomenon in business seems very exciting to me and indicative of how important cross-pollination is to finding an elegant solution to a tough problem.

Bonus Links! (Bumper Crop!)

Ingenuity Festival Cleveland

Fascinating art + technology event being held July 10-12, 2009. Features hundreds of musical acts, exhibits and participatory events, including a “human swarm.”  (Thank you Jill Miller Zimon for the tip!)

How Twitter can Make you a Better Photographer

A guest post to Digital Photography School blog by naturalist, photographer, and computer scientist Steve Berardi on how to use Twitter to improve your photography.

7 Ways to Get Rid of the Restless Mind Syndrome (RMS)

From Jasmine Boussem, writing at the Huffington Post. How to calm the mind and focus better.

4 Effective Clutter-busting Games

From Carole Fogarty at the Rejuvenation Lounge blog. Four fun ways to help you declutter your living/working/etc. space.


  1. Hi Liz – thanks for including the Ingenuity Festival. It really is a very unique and cool event. I know one of the main promoters/organizers and he really walks the walk of bringing this kind of “coolness” to Cleveland every day. If you liked Ingenuity Fest, from a writer’s/journalist’s perspective, you should check out his It’s an online only news and information resource that is always full of unique info and interviews.

    Hope you’re doing great and thanks again.

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