Keep calm & catch up

KeepCalm-ProjectLifeOkay, I have been TERRIBLE with keeping up to date with my Project Life album this year. There has been some major upheaval (moving house being the biggest and setting up a new workspace being another), as well as sheer laziness on my part. I really had no excuses: I had all the plastics, binders, digital kit files, photos taken, embellishments and paper coming out of my ears. I’ve even had my studio space downstairs in the new house since August and not used it.

Two weekends ago I ran out of excuses and got myself downstairs and working. It was, unfortunately, a false start as my printer had no ink. Ugh. After fixing that up, I got into the swing of it again.

How badly was I behind? Let’s just say that the MAJORITY of the year was unfinished. I thought I’d share some of my tips for ‘doing Project Life when not doing Project Life’. They are the little things I do to make it easier when inspiration strikes.

  • Use social media. Go back through your Twitter feeds, Facebook, Instagram, etc to see what you were doing/thinking on certain days. It might just remind you of something you might otherwise forget.
  • Following on from that, use a program to organise all your social media into one place. I use Memento and with the calendar section I can easily go back and see what I was doing on any given day. It has been incredibly helpful as my memory is shocking.
  • Back in January Cathy Zielske mentioned on her blog that she was using an app called Day One. Oh, how I love this little app! I have it set to remind me four times a day to make notes about what I’m doing. You can now also add photos to your journal notes. As well, I have the desktop version and, as with Memento, when I use the calendar section I can see what days I wrote something and see what I was doing/thinking at the time when I’m planning my weekly layouts or my ‘This week’ journal cards. I have been relying on this substantially when I’m working on weeks as far back as March (I am ashamed to admit it).
  • Use a photo organising program such as iPhoto. I organise folders by months and set my key photos to say the month and year. This makes it easy to go to the right folder each time when you are moving back and forth. Photostreaming also makes it easier to wirelessly and seamlessly add photos into the right folder. Don’t you love when technology comes together?
  • If you are an Apple household like we are you can share your iPhoto streams between different users. I regularly check Simon’s photos and add them into my monthly folders so that I don’t miss out on what Simon has been up to or what he found interesting at the time. This has been great for adding in photos from when he was frequently traveling mid year.

imac planning

  • While I love my iPhone and apps, I am a paper girl at heart and I also use a cheap paper diary when I’m working. I’ve done this for the last few years and it helps me visually plan weekly spreads with the days of the week right there. I don’t use this diary for everyday purposes, it is just for Project Life and it lives next to my computer. This is where all of my helpers come together. I use a week to a page diary and I draw a template on each page to plan the spread. Sitting in front of my iMac I look through my monthly folder in iPhoto and pick out the photos I want to use. I write in each square in pencil the photo (and photo ID number), just in case I want to move them around. I make notes on the page about what we were doing for my weekly wrap up card, including things from Memento and Day One. I also plan out any inserts I want to add for the week (for example birthday parties, travel, new houses, etc) where I may have a lot of photos but don’t want to swamp my weekly spreads. It’s also a chance to do a bit of scrapbooking.

pl diary

  • In my binder I place all of my plastics at the start of the year. I also find it easier to make a note on a post it note of the week number and date range for each spread. It helps if you get behind and want to do a page of the most recent week or if you need to add something special to a specific week. I’m a visual person and this helps me a lot. You can also use the cards that come in the core kit to do this but I like the flexibility of using different things for my title card depending on the week.
  • If you are like me, keeping little bits for each week can become overwhelming when you get behind. Which week did that belong to? Do I have everything relevant or is there something in another hiding spot? I’m “pretty good” at keeping things in the same place but with moving there was a pile from before the move and than a different pile formed after the move. Something I thought that might help with this is to create plastic sleeves (nothing fancy, just ones from an office supply store) for each week/month and put them in a central place. When the month is over simply put the plastic sleeve in your album until you get back to it or store in a “safe place”. Another tip is to put dates on the back of these little items (such as shopping lists, tags for clothes that you’ve bought, tickets, etc) so when you find them you can easily add them into the correct week/month. I’ve talked about how I put these bits and pieces into my albums here.


  • Becky Higgins did a great post awhile back about using the journal cards to jot things down while it’s fresh in your mind. I don’t do this but I can see how it would be really helpful. Keeping the cards in a central place or in your handbag would be a great prompt, too.
  • Keep it simple! I started this year with a new design style to what I’ve previously done with my Project Life albums. Unfortunately, it was time consuming and when I started working again it felt too much and I avoided it. Reading Elise‘s blog about keeping it simple has helped me redefine what I want my album to look like, as has Ali Edwards. Simplify your colours, embellishments and stick with a style that works for you. You don’t need to emulate what someone else is doing because it looks more ‘professional’. Even simpler is to just use what comes in the Core Kits and don’t add a single thing more!
  • Some tips when printing photos: use templates as much as you can (greats ones are available from Designer Digitals) to save fiddling with files; print your photos in bulk at photo printers such as Kmart or Big W (in Australia); overlay text directly onto the photo to save adding journaling on a tag or card; and print two 3×4 photos on one 6×4 sheet to save paper and money. I use Photoshop for my photo editing but Photoshop Elements and software that comes with digital cameras can be as easy to use, if not easier!

Becky Higgins recently did a post on Project Life for Newbies with lots of tips for those starting out. As Becky always points out, Project Life is whatever you want it to be. A photo a day? Sure, but if that is too much, an overview of the week is fine, too. Even whole photos cut down to fill a spread works when you have only a few photos. One week per page, rather over two. There is any number of ways to use Project Life. That’s why it is so good.

I am >this< close to having finished the first album of 2012 (January to June) now. I’ve just been working away each day at it, as well as doing the previous week’s spread at the start of each week while it is fresh. Planning is the key to catching up. Those little things that you can do all the time will make that daunting task of catching up so much easier. You can start with the best intentions to do this weekly (I did for the last THREE years) but life can, and does get in the way, and you do get behind.

Keep it simple and it will come together. It is so worthwhile in the end. I am loving looking over each week for the past year as it comes together and seeing how rich our lives are. This project makes me grateful for the life we have.

And yes, I am planning on doing Project Life in 2013 with Elise’s Seafoam edition. I also INTEND to keep up with it weekly. ๐Ÿ™‚

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2 thoughts on “Keep calm & catch up

  1. sleepydwarf says:

    Great post! I’m in the same boat – we moved house in October & have spent almost every non-working moment between July & now either getting the old house ready to sell, packing, decluttering, actually moving, upacking (and on it goes) and I really let my Project Life slide. Now I’m in a position to catch up (and I have a beautiful new craft space too) and I’m spending my days whinging about how far behind I am! Can you believe I’ve been using Macs most of my life and I only just discovered iPhoto has folders this morning. Facepalm! All of a sudden organising my photos has become easier. I’ve put each month’s memorabilia into separate plastic pockets, so that’s another step forward. And I’ve combined my Project Life planning book into my book where I keep all my other scrapbooking ideas so everything is in one place. Now to get on with it ๐Ÿ™‚

    Sounds like you’re almost there with yours! That’s a great effort & the hardest part is getting started isn’t it!

    I’m going to ignore almost every design post about PL because I’ll get caught up with trying to make my pages into pseudo scrap layouts, which for me defeats the purpose of PL, which is simplicity. And my son loves the albums just the way they are.

  2. […] 2012, I fell behind. Waaaaaaay behind but I caught up with the help of a few tricks I’ve learnt along the way. The best thing I did was to simplify what I was doing, to bring it […]

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