Charting Creativity

Charting Creativity

The ongoing project in my personal world is creating order from the files on my computer. Not only do I have the ‘regular’ sorts of files like warranties and financial records, I have have 24 years of poorly stewarded digital photos, and about 18 years of homeschooling work and records. Let me give you a glimpse into our time capsule from 2003.

We had just moved to Maine. In New York, neighbors had graciously shared their Thomas the Train set with Caleb. Moving to Maine meant returning Thomas. As a family, we earned our own Thomas set with four pages of daily commitment and work. You will notice, Caleb (at the time 3) had the lions share of chances to add stickers to the chart, but we all wanted Thomas back in our lives, so we all contributed. 
The kids celebrated our getting stickers for our working hours, and we were glad to be watching them celebrate their young contributions. Thomas is still with us. We not only filled four page with stickers of accomplishments, we acquired additional pieces for many years following.

This was probably the first chart I built for our family. As I dig through different files and folders I find various generations of charts – mostly for chores and responsibilities. 

Sometimes our family did chores because we are part of a family. Sometimes there has been money to be earned. Everyone – including Marc – has been included on a chore chart. 

I think there are three, no four, reasons this is the way we manage our home. (1) I like a tidy, clean home – for a lot of reasons. (2) When we chose to homeschool, it meant we were going to be in our space all the time. That made number 1 even more important. (3) I grew up with a chore list on the refrigerator of my home. I clearly remember my mom’s handwriting outlining how family responsibilities were to be shared. (4) I believed that allowing the kids and Marc to be part of the home care program wasn’t just good for me, it was good for them. They were going to need to know how to do this for themselves for much more of their lives than I would be available to do it for them. 

I scribble charts and ideas about everything. Learning about mind-mapping and brainstorming brought me as much joy as learning to alphabetize in second grade (I still get giggly about alphabetizing). 

As I sort through and purge decades of files, I am recognizing that strategic systems and visual charts have been my main approach for everything from chores to vacations to moves. To write that sentence, it feels like I am a data person. 

Curiously, I still identify as a primarily creative person.

What tools do you find yourself just naturally using? What do you think it says about you? What does it really say about you?