Superpower or Curse?

Does being organized screw with my creativity?

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Okay, so, for the most part, I’m a highly organized individual. I’m good at thinking through projects in a process-oriented way, which is incredibly beneficial when I’m planning a video shoot, or quoting on a client project. I’m also getting very good at estimating how long it will take me to complete projects and tasks. And when it comes to managing budgets, so far, I’ve been excellent at maximizing small budgets, as well as balancing larger ones.

 

In many ways, being organized is like my superpower! And it’s a pretty awesome superpower because it means I can tackle a lot of projects all at the same time! For example, in 2019, there was a period of something like 3 months when I completed 3 different short documentaries, on top of finishing up a full-time contract, juggling a second part-time job, shooting (and grant writing) for my first feature doc, and working on client contracts.

I am SUPER NICOLE - Organizer Extraordinare! Where chaos lurks, Nicole will arise, efficiently straightening things out until all i's are dotted, and t's crossed!

As exciting as this superpower is, lately I’ve been wondering if it may also be a curse.

 

For example, when it comes to creative projects, my process-oriented brain frequently interferes with silly thoughts like, Well Nicole, before we start a creative brainstorm, it’s only smart to get organized. All projects start with a goal, or perhaps a bit of research. And there’s no way you can just scrawl all over that blank page — draw some boxes and you can work efficiently within those. Oh, and I’ve only allotted you 15 minutes for this brainstorm exercise because next, you must update your QuickBooks, and then attend a meeting, and then, and then, and then…

 

*Sigh* I’m not much of a superhero aficionado but I’m starting to feel like Rogue, except my organizing powers thwart my ability to be creative!

Part of the issue is that I take on too many contracts and projects at once. The creative industry is feast or famine, and with COVID, I’ve been compelled to say ‘yes’ to as many paid contracts as I can. And besides, my organizing brain re-assures me regularly that it can juggle all these projects because it, I, am an organizing superhero!

 

But you know what? Just like many superheroes drawn to their calling by the universe, something “out there” wants me to create. Here’s how I know this:

 

Just over two months ago, my grandmother was rushed to the hospital after a fall. They weren’t sure what happened, but when she got to the hospital, she had a brain bleed that was pretty major. For a while, she bounced around various hospital units due to complications. Eventually, she made it to the rehabilitation centre, where she finally started to show progress.

My grandmother being in the hospital for such a long time really impacted me. I’ve always been close to her, and for years I’d been thinking about how much I wanted to capture her stories, if not for a creative project, then at least for our family. Having her suddenly in the hospital was a wake-up call. My brain’s prioritization of organization and paid work had prevented me from following through on spending real time with my grandmother.

 

When she was first admitted, I promised myself (and the powers that be) that if my grandmother recovered, I would figure out a way to spend time with her. The universe heard my promise and decided to challenge me: Last week my grandmother was released from the hospital in pretty darn good health all things considered…

 

So, I made good on my promise. Days after she got home, I put my organizing powers to good use: I packed up my equipment, my computer, and enough clothes to last me a couple weeks, and I arranged to move in with her for an indeterminate amount of time.

You want to know the funny part though? My organized brain still thought it would be able to maintain our previous life of work, work, work, organize, organize, organize! No word of a lie, I wrote out schedules for the first few days: 9am – breakfast; 10am – record stories with grandmother; 12noon – XYZ meeting, etc. etc.

 

Each day, that schedule was kyboshed, and rightly so. There is no clear way to organize one’s day when staying with someone who is both healing from an injury while also living her life the way she wants to.

Yes Brain, I feel you!

So I finally gave in. While I didn’t want to, I cut back on some projects. I decided it was okay to postpone certain tasks. I delegated and asked for support when I needed it. And I’ve taken a cue from my grandmother on the importance of relaxation and play, and taken most of my evenings off!!! (*GASP*!!!)

 

I hope I am able to maintain this prioritization of space and time when I return home. I truly think it might be the key to maximizing my organizing superpowers in support of my creativity. And in the meantime, while I’ll still be working towards a few project deadlines, I’m going to be thankful for, and enjoy spending time with my grandmother while I still can!