TRANSCRIPT Ep. 283: The Ultimate Studio Clean Up


Miriam Schulman: Clear space, clear mind. By decluttering, you’re not just organizing your materials, you’re streamlining your creative process. And a decluttered space leads to a decluttered mind where ideas can flow more naturally without obstacles or distractions.

Speaker 2: It’s the Inspiration Place podcast with artist Miriam Schulman. Welcome to the Inspiration Place Podcast, an art world insider podcast for artists by an artist where each week we go behind the scenes to uncover the perspiration and inspiration behind the art. And now your host, Miriam Schulman.

Miriam Schulman: Well. Hello there Artpreneur. Welcome to The Inspiration Place. This is Miriam Schulman, your curator of inspiration. You’re listening to episode number 283. And I’m so grateful that you’re here today. We’re talking all about decluttering, which has been our theme for November, our No Clutter November. And today we’re gonna talk about the psychological benefits of decluttering. So you’ll have motivation to clean up. We’ll talk about five realistic steps that you can take today to tackle decluttering your studio. And none of these require you to become a minimalist. Don’t worry, I’m not one either. I know it’s completely unrealistic to expect you to adhere to that. Hey, if you’re a minimalist and you’re in my audience, reach out to me. I’d love to hear from you, but I have a suspicion that most of the people listening to this podcast have an abundance of creations and supplies and things like that, and that’s why you’re tuning into this episode. And of course, we’ll talk about the one thing you must do today that’s going to make your cleanup so much easier. So as I’m recording this, I did procrastinate a little bit because I thought, oh my gosh, who am I to talk about decluttering? My husband would be like, “Miriam, how can you do this?”. Because, I mean, my spaces are pretty much a mess, but I do know how much it makes a difference when I do clean up even the littlest bit, how it can unlock creativity for me.

I know that when my spaces are messy, it causes me a lot of psychological clutter as well. So it’s super important that we talk about this. Now, during the writer’s strike, I didn’t feel like watching much television. I mean, I did feel like watching television, but there wasn’t that much I wanted to watch. I usually like to watch Stephen Colbert late-night show, and that wasn’t on the air for six months or however long the writers’ strike was. And I had already watched Seinfeld a million times, and I’ve already reread all the Harry Potters. I wanted to just turn my brain off and watch something, and I found myself binge-watching Hoarders. And at first my husband was like, “This show is complete trash”, but every single time I turned it on, he found himself watching it with me. So he would overhear on the television and saying, “Well, we’re going to like, put up a lolly column to support this hoard”. And he’d be all interested about the structural support, or he’ll overhear them saying, and there’s the 73 Corvette in the garage. And he wanted to come and see it. So he got sucked into it as well. And I hate to admit it, but both of us had watched two seasons of Hoarders, and that’s pretty much everything that was available on Netflix. So that is what inspired all of these November episodes. I, of course, did a whole one on hoarding, which you can go back and listen to.

I pulled out interview I did with Denise Duffield Thomas, and when we talk about how decluttering helps you manifest because nature abhors a vacuum. So you can’t make room in your life for more abundance if it’s filled with clutter. So decluttering helps you. We’re goinna about the psychological benefits of decluttering right after these words.

***Artpreneur Review***

Welcome back. We’re talking about decluttering. And I don’t have to tell you but your external environment reflects and influences your internal state. As one of my friends and podcast guests have said about outer order leads to inner calm. This is especially true if you’re a creative person. You can’t create if you’re feeling anxiety. You can’t create if you’re feeling overwhelmed because of external clutter. So let’s unpack this a bit. Let’s talk about the connection between your environment and creativity. When your workspace is cluttered, it can mirror and exasperate your feelings of overwhelm, chaos, and stagnation. Every piece of clutter demands attention, which is going to lead to scattered thoughts and diminished focus. So here is your first mantra for you. If you like art journaling, it’s something I love to do, is I do affirmations in my planner, which—I turn basically my planners into art journals every every year.

But here’s your first mantra. And that is clear space, clear mind. By decluttering, you’re not just organizing your materials, you’re streamlining your creative process. And a decluttered space leads to a decluttered mind where ideas can flow more naturally without obstacles or distractions. So if you find yourself stuck in your creativity, clean off your workspace. If you’re stuck and what to put in an email, clean your desk. If you are feeling stuck in your relationship, clean up your bedroom. Clean up your bedroom. You will definitely improve your sex life if your bedroom is a little more organized. Okay, so let’s talk first about ease in your work. It’s really important to have a designated place for all your tools and your materials so that creating art becomes smoother. Now what I like to do. So I want to give you like a very specific tip here is, even though baskets are prettier when it comes to your art supplies, you really do want everything in clear bins so that you can easily spot it. I like to have a big clear bin for each type of supply, so I’ll have a clear bin, maybe it’s a shoe box size, maybe it’s a double shoe box size for my watercolors. A separate bin that’s for acrylic paint, a separate bin for a different kind of supply so that I can spot it.

A separate bin that’s just for chisels. And you want to not waste time searching for things. So my workspace, and I don’t have a lot of room really. I do have a dedicated room for my studio, but I share that workspace with my office, with my desk and my computer. And it’s also our guestroom. So when my daughter comes to stay, there’s a bed, there’s a dresser, there’s a bathroom, there’s a closet. So I really have to keep it clutter-free, not just because of my own art making, but also because this is where we welcome guests into the room, into our home. And I can’t have it be unfriendly and full of stuff. So I have a studio table and it’s something I bought on Pottery Barn. I don’t know if they make it anymore. It’s not perfect because the shelves are 12 inches apart, but they’re not 12 inches high, if that makes sense, because the wood shelf takes up space, so it’s not completely ideal. But I do have that outfitted. So it has shelves on each side, and then it has basically a tabletop that goes on top of it. And if I really needed more space to do something else, the tabletop could come off of those shelves and I could push everything against the wall if I really wanted to. But I have my most treasured, most used supplies are on those shelves right next to my tabletop, and I have less used supplies are in the closet right next to in that same room.

Now, when I lived in the suburbs, it was pretty much the same way. I just had more shelves, so I had more shelf space so that I could keep supplies I don’t use as often and clear view all the time, which probably wasn’t the best thing. It’s a little easier now that I have moved either on from things I’ve gotten rid of it, or I’ve moved it into my other home. But by the way, I don’t use most of the supplies that I still kept. I probably hoarded more than I need, and I’m not going to ask you to get rid of everything because I know I couldn’t. So that’s why I am not going to ask you to embrace minimalism. But you do need to let go of things that are really just trash. This is especially true if you’re doing if you’re a collage artist. I found when I was doing collage that I would basically accumulate trash in my studio that I thought were collage elements, and that did not help. So things could easily fill up collage bins with trash. And that is something you really have to designate, like one day a month where you say, I’m going to go through my collage hoard and get rid of things that I’m really never going to use, or they’re not usable anymore, and know that there’s always more have that abundant mindset that in terms of collage elements that are kind of found objects, there’s always more.


It’s not so much a less is more approach. It’s just you don’t need it all. So this is about having this clear environment with your creativity. I want to give you a few more psychological benefits of decluttering to help motivate you. I’m going to run through them very quickly. Obviously decluttering makes it cleaner and more organized, but really your motivation should be about reducing stress and anxiety. So that cluttered environment, it’s going to stimulate the production of cortisol, which is your stress hormone. When you reduce your clutter, you’re going to lower your stress and lower your anxiety. And that’s always a good thing to do without wine or cookies. And it will enhance your focus and productivity. Also, here’s something that’s really important. A lot of people come to me and they want to increase their confidence. Taking control of your environment and making decisions about what to keep and get rid of is going to be an empowering act. The act of decluttering will make you feel accomplished and more confident in your decision-making abilities. Do know, though, that it does require a lot of decision-making to declutter, so don’t expect that you’re going to do all your decluttering and you’re creating in the same day. What will often happen is you will actually use up decision-making power throughout the day, and you may only have a few hours of decision-making ability in your day.

That’s why maybe one day a month is going to be enough for you. Maybe every new moon is when you do it. You will find, though, a boost in your creativity. So the clearer space is going to clear your mind. It’s going to allow you to have more room for creative thinking, more room for problem-solving. And those of my menopausal friends are just going to like this benefit, it will help you sleep at night. So I already talked about how decluttering your space is going to help your sex life. It will also improve your relaxation. It will improve your quality of sleep because without that physical chaos, your mind can relax. It will help you feel like I said, more achievement, more satisfaction. It will help those dopamine really help you with positive feelings. Help you create a sense of harmony. One thing that I did when I first used to choose a word for the year, and my very first word I chose, I remember was harmony. And whenever people left their shoes out in the hallway, it really irritated me and or used to irritate me. And then when I was putting it away, I would just say, I’m making harmony. And now I still remember that whenever my husband leaves his shoes in the hallway, I just put them away and I say to myself, I’m making harmony.

I’m going to give you a couple more psychological benefits for decluttering before we get to the how to actually tackle your studio. But when you declutter, it will help you reduce the attachment to material possessions. One thing that I noticed while watching the hoarders show is how attached people became to the material possessions, and they really lost sight of what was important. They actually would start to put more importance on their stuff than on their family relationships. And I’m not saying that’s going to happen to you, but even on a more subtle level. When you have that detachment, then you will recognize their happiness does not come from your possessions, and that will help you reduce the need to accumulate more. Another benefit is that idea of a sense of renewal. A fresh start. So it helps you feel like you’re starting new. It can feel like shedding an old layer, making room for new experiences, and will help you promote other positive habits and your emotional health. Okay, so I just want to recap those 12 benefits. And then after the break we’re going to talk about how to tackle your decluttering.

But first let me just wrap up the 12 benefits to help motivate you. One, reduce stress and anxiety. Two, enhance focus and productivity. Three, boosted self-esteem and confidence. Four, increased creativity. Five, improved sleep. Six, enhanced mood. Seven, easier decision-making. Eight, increased mindfulness. Nine, reduced attachment to material possessions. Ten, sense of renewal and fresh start. One thing I just want to add now, sometimes in my in my decluttering, I would even repaint my studio. Like I would take everything off the walls and I would patch up all the holes and paint it white. Eleven, enhanced emotional health and 12, promotion of positive habits. Okay, so that should be plenty of motivation for you to tackle your decluttering. And we will start talking about how right after this break.

***Artpreneur Review***

Welcome back. We are talking about how to declutter your art studio. And I’ve broken this down into five steps. I could have made more steps, but I eliminated anything that I knew was completely unrealistic for people like us, for artists like us. So the first step for decluttering is to commit to your future self. So I want you to visualize what you want your studio to look like. How do you want it to feel? Maybe even go through magazines like What Women Create or In Her Studio and cut out some pictures of things that you like. I know a lot of those are staged and fake and whatever, but maybe you want to journal about how you want it to feel so you can write down. You can sketch this vision. This can serve as your motivation and your end goal.

Number two, the four-box method. So if you are doing a massive overhaul, you’re going to want to prepare for boxes or bins. And this is going to be labeled trash, donate, keep relocate. I don’t suggest you actually buy bins. One of the things that my husband noticed is that a lot of the hoarders all had these big bins. It was so hilarious because it was like they thought that their only problem was organization, and if only they could get things organized, they could keep all their stuff and he would notice show after show. People all across the country, they had these big blue bins and it was like, see, that’s why they have so much stuff. I don’t think you need to get the bins because at this day and age, we all get so many deliveries from Amazon, etc. You probably can just get four boxes. Either you have them or your neighbor has them, or you can get it from your basement. If you live in an apartment, something like that, and just prepare them as this is the trash, this is the donation. This is keep meaning keep in your studio. And the fourth one is relocate, meaning it doesn’t belong in your studio. It belongs someplace else. So now go through your studio and decide which box it belongs in, and in advance. Schedule some sort of pickup like Vietnam Vets or something like that. I don’t know what’s in your area.

In the US, Vietnam vets will make pickups of art supplies, gently used things, gently used clothing, art supplies, toys, things like that. They will take those things. And if they pick it up from you in a box, it saves you from having to do an errand of bringing it to be donated someplace. Okay. Number three. Step three. Tackle one zone at a time. So usually we have zones in our studio. For example, for me, I have my desk and podcasting zone. I have my work table art table zone. And I have the zone that’s because it’s doubling up as a guest room, I have the bed and the dresser so you can tackle one zone at a time. Just focus on that one zone. Don’t get overwhelmed by looking at your whole studio, but maybe just one zone. And if you want, you can even start with the easiest. Or you could start with the most cluttered. Sometimes if you start the easiest and you have a quick win, though, that will motivate you to clean the rest of your spaces. Step four, organizing and labeling. One thing that makes the decluttering process a little more fun is to get a very nice label maker. I once worked with an organizer and she had such a cool font on her label maker. I was a little bit annoyed because she did charge me extra for the labels and I thought, my gosh, with what I’m paying for her, you would think she would just include those labels in it, but whatever.

You know, you can also get your own label maker. I do have a label maker, which I use not just for decluttering, but I also use the label maker for when I do art shows so I can put prices on my art. So remember I mentioned earlier the clear plastic bins. It’s really nice to label it. Yes, you can look at it and see these are acrylics, but it’s still it’s still nice to label it. It makes things look good. When you’re doing your files. It does look better to have the label maker print out what all the labels are. It just does. Step number five is to create an inspiration board. So one thing that definitely leads to clutter for creatives like you and me is that we end up collecting things. Tell me if this is you or not. I know I do, but we collect things for inspiration. Like maybe it’s a magazine article, maybe it’s a picture of something, maybe it’s a postcard. Maybe it’s a photo reference. So dedicated space now, it could be a wall. It could be a closet door. That’s where I used to tape things up when I was in the suburbs. I used my the back of the closet door, actually. So when I would close the closet door, you didn’t see it anymore.

But you could use you could have a bulletin board, you can use a wall in your studio. And this is where you can pin ideas. You can pin sketches, maybe materials, something like this. And this becomes a zone now that you do want to regularly update and declared this board. So you have an idea you didn’t act on, maybe it’s time to let go of that idea. So let me just recap for you these five steps. One, commit to your future self. Two, the four-box method. Three, tackle one zone at a time. Four, organize and label storage. And number five, create an inspiration board. Okay, I’ll share with you some final thoughts. But first these words.

***Review of Miriam’s client***

All right, my friends. That was a lot. I would love for you to share with me your studios. In fact, let’s do this to keep ourselves super motivated. Share your messy studios, your bless this mess. Whatever hashtag you want to use. Hashtag messy studio, hashtag bless this mess. Hashtag No Clutter November and tag me. I’m @SchulmanArt on Instagram. That’s S-C-H-U-L-M-A-N-A-R-T. I would love to hear from you. I would love to see your before and more importantly when you’re done cleaning up. Tag me in your after so No Clutter November. Let’s do this together. Let’s invite abundance into our life and the abundance is not our clutter. See decluttering as an ongoing journey, not a one-time event.

All right, my friends, so you can find the show notes. Everything we talked about today over at So this is November that we’re in. And I am talking to artists who are joining me in January for my mastermind cohort. It is a select group of artists. If you’ve been on the fence about joining or you’ve been thinking about joining, now’s the time. I’d love to meet with you. There is an application over at, but if you want to skip the application and just DM me, we can have a quick chat over on Instagram. Remember, I’m @SchulmanArt over there and just tell me what it is that you want to change in your art business, and I will tell you whether this is something that we can do together. I do have a cohort of accelerator artists. It’s a three-month cohort. You can do a lot in the first three months of the year. That will set you up for success in 2024 and beyond. I would love to be part of your journey in helping you become a more profitable, more motivated, more successful artist. This is something that’s possible for you. And it would be my honor to show you the way. All right, my friend, thanks so much for being with me here today. I’ll see you the same time, same place next week. Until then, stay inspired.

Speaker 2: Thank you for listening to The Inspiration Place podcast. Connect with us on Facebook at on Instagram @schulmanart and of course, on


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