It’s almost impossible to reconcile creativity with cleanliness. The sculptor gets metal dust all over his studio. The writer must wade through a clutter of notes, books, and crumpled drafts to get to her desk. The rock musician must weave through a tangle of cables, black boxes, guitar stands, and song notes to sit down and create. The business strategist must navigate a thicket of scribbles, arrows, and boxes on his whiteboard while avoiding the distractions of multicolored sticky notes on stacks of must-read articles.

You may find that you can’t be creative until you clean up your desk or tidy your workspace. This ...

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