MANW Check-In Week 6: Decisions Based on Last Time Used

MANW February Badge

We’re a month and a half in, and true to this month’s theme I want to talk about organizing. Last time, I mentioned that one way to get your art supplies and files sorted is to think about how you’re using them. For example, if you’re the type of person who stashes projects here and there (only to discover them later), ask yourself which space you use the most.

Today’s tip is about assessing your usage to help you get organized. Often, I’ve noticed that people start with Keep, Recycle, Toss, but I find that’s too generic for me. I base categories on increments of time, because that is a strong indicator on when I’ll use it.

What I do is assess the last time I used a project/file before making a decision. To this end, I’ve been using my digital calendars more and more–it’s so helpful to have a visual picture of what I’m doing and when. I’ll recommend some calendars next week!

Here’s how my assessment breaks down:

  • Current: For me, what I’m currently using is either within a window of thirty days, or during the last event. For example, since I infrequently cross-stitch I’d consider whatever I worked on last as current.
  • Past: This can either be within the past six months or a full year to cover seasonal-related uses. For example, NaNoWriMo.org, which occurs in November, and Camp NaNoWriMo, held in April and July, happen the same time every year.

From here, I think about usage up to five years. If I haven’t used something in five years, then that automatically gets archived, donated, or thrown out. For digital files, my methodology is to focus on what I’ve written within one-to-two years, because as I change and grow so does my writing. To go back and edit something I’ve written in the past is an exercise in insanity. I might farm the ideas, mind you, but rewriting older works isn’t healthy for me or my work.

Okay, once I have that sorted, it’s easier for me to make decisions based on what I’m using, what I want to use, and what I can safely get rid of. Why do this? Well, it’s a good way to save and make money. Going through your stuff gives you a sense of your personal inventory, and it helps jog your memory for gifts you’ve promised and projects you wanted to do. Sometimes, if I can’t find a specific calligraphy pen or a canvas, I’ll buy another one thinking I don’t have it. This way, I’ll know exactly what I’ve got–and what I tend to use more of!

The point of this exercise is to take control of your spaces, files, and art supplies to give you the mental and physical room to make more art. There’s also several psychological benefits to getting organized as well as a few health benefits, too. You might have another method of getting organized that works better for your style–and that’s okay!

    Mood: It’s Wednesday, already? GAH!
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Three-ish.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Sorting, sorting, sorting.
    In My Ears: Some crappy B-movie for background noise.
    Game Last Played: Dragon Age: Inquisition
    Book Last Read: Research materials for work.
    Movie/TV Show Last Viewed: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
    Latest Artistic Project: Make Art Not War 2017 Challenge and Rules
    Latest Releases: In Volo’s Wake for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition. Read my end-of-the-year list of releases for an overview of what I’ve put out for 2016.
    Current State of Projects: Read my latest project update. New project update coming this month!





Monica Valentinelli is a writer, editor, and game developer. Her portfolio includes stories, games, comics, essays, and pop culture books.

In addition to her own worlds, she has worked on a number of different properties including Firefly, Vampire: the Masquerade, Hunter: the Vigil, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn, and Robert E. Howard’s Conan.

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