Triage, Part 2

On Wednesday we started talking about Triage, which is the method I use periodically to sort and organize all the projects I have going at once. Here are some ideas about how you can do it, no matter what your preferred medium:

~~Set up two tables, or two ironing boards, or some tray tables or, gee, just any two large-enough flat surfaces. You can work on the floor if you want to.

~~Pile all the projects and bits of projects and notes, etc., on one of the tables/surfaces.

~~Go through and sort them, putting everything for one project together. So if you’re, say, binding books, you’d gather the boards and book cloth and paper for the pages and needle and bookbinding thread–all of it together–and put it in a bag. This seems excessive, but here’s why: if you have everything together in a bag, you can grab it and know you’ll have whatever you need. If you’re on your way out the door, you don’t have to make sure you stop and get random tools or needles or brushes or whatever. If you work in a medium where this isn’t possible–say, clay, where you work on a wheel and have a set of specific tools–then just collect the parts that are collectible.


~~Put these in individual bags or boxes or jars or whatever works for you, but try to make sure it’s something so that all the parts stay together.


~~Label them. If you use zipper bags, as I do, you can write on them with a Sharpie. When you re-use the bag, you can cross off whatever you wrote last time and write under it. What are you writing? If it’s something with a deadline, write that. If it’s something you’re submitting somewhere, write that. A gift for your sister? Do you need to buy more clay for this project? Make a note on the bag.


~~Put the bags in order. For me, Triage means sorting the projects into things I can finish relatively quickly (in a couple of days) vs. things that are going to take weeks (involved beading projects, for example). I like to alternate these, having a long project going on but inserting something less involved every week or so–there’s nothing that motivates like actually finishing something, esp. if your longer projects are *really* longer. So that’s how I sort the bags: by how involved the projects are. You might need to sort by deadlines, or by which things you need to have ready for the kiln at the same time, or by which ones require good lighting or, for outdoor painting, perhaps, which ones require non-windy days.

~~Figure out where to put the bags, either in a large box or on a shelf or wherever–somewhere you can see them and reach them easily.


This probably sounds like a lot of work, and maybe you’re thinking it’s one of those make-busy things people devise to keep from doing the actual work. But, seriously, it’s the thing that makes it possible for me to be as productive as I can be. Knowing what I have lined up to work on next is motivating–when I do Triage (as I did yesterday), I always come across a bagged project I’d forgotten about and get excited about it all over again. It spurs me on to finish whatever I’m working on so I can get to it, and having a stash of waiting projects means I’m pretty much *always* motivated. If I get tired of working on one, I can put it and all its paraphernalia back in the bag and move to something else for a while.


Now if I could just figure out how to get someone else to do the parts I don’t like. I could set the bags on the table at night and, when I woke up, the boring parts would be done and I could do the fun stuff. Wouldn’t that be great? Let me know if you figure out how to make this happen, please~~

Ricë is the author of Living the Creative Life, Creative Time and Space, and Destination Creativity. She also blogs at The Voodoo Cafe.

Mixed Media PaintboxYou might also enjoy Mixed Media Paint Box.






* Find great books, DVDs, downloads & more for mixed media artists!
* Sign up for your FREE email newsletter for great tips, projects & more…
* Download free mixed media desktop wallpapers!

You may also like these articles:

This entry was posted in The Creative Life: A Mixed Media Blog and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Triage, Part 2

  1. Artyology says:

    I just posted Before & After pics on my blog of my ongoing quest to keep it all easier to create and I was searching for a place to respond to a request you made several weeks ago, encouraging your readers to send you Before & After photos. Maybe this is the place! I love reading about your goings-on!.

    • Rice Freeman-Zachery says:

      I LOVE seeing these photos! What a huge undertaking it must have been–thanks for showing us!