I believe in Gretchen Rubin's words – "outer order contributes to inner calm." (And I am always looking for more inner calm!)
I'll spare you the story about the time we had a three-year-old and a six-week-old and a brand-new house and no money in the bank and a sort of flood in the basement that caused all of our partially unpacked belongings to wind up in the living room. I believed in Gretchen Rubin's words then but she hadn't published them yet and I didn't know how to articulate the way the chaos was seeping into my brain.
This afternoon, I spent some time tidying in the studio. It wasn't messy, exactly, but it was full. Surfaces were full, the walls were filling up with visual references, the floor was getting kind of full. My brain has been super full lately so I guess it makes sense that ideas and notes and supplies and scraps of paper and pencils and brushes and sketchbooks and paintings were piling up and spreading out willy-nilly.
On the one hand, the spread of piles and detritus is a direct result of a busy and cluttered brain, day, life. On the other hand the spread of piles and the detritus leads to a busy and cluttered brain, day, life.
So today I tidied. I sorted and piled and put things away, I made a list, I crossed some things off. I put a book (Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, reading it for the second time) and a magazine (Uppercase, the latest issue) in a little pile next to the sofa in a hopeful state of waiting. My palette is fresh and clean. (Some) surfaces are clear, and I am ready for tomorrow.
Thanks Gretchen Rubin, for giving voice to something I have long believed. It helps to be able to say it clearly and succinctly like this. Outer order contributes to inner calm.