*this is rather a lengthy blog post, so grab a cup of tea and make yourself comfortable. It was fun to open up about my project life process but very tough to reflect on some things and admit imperfections. I poured my heart and soul into this post and I hope that someone, somewhere finds it helpful ♥
Oh, Project Life, such a simple memory keeping system (thank you, Becky Higgins!), yet many of us are falling behind on it, because for some reason or another, we insist on making it complicated, detailed and fancy. And this thing called life and actually living your life also gets in a way of documenting it. Ironic, isn’t?
Just over two weeks ago, I set out a challenge for myself to Catch up on 20 weeks Project Life in two weeks. My instagram friends exploded with support and enthusiasm, some even also joining me in that crazy challenge! Hashtag was created, blog post was written, free lovely printables were created by me and by Caylee. All systems go.
So, how did I do in those two weeks? Let’s have a look.
I used this lovely planner by the ever so lovely Caylee. (You can download it for free because she’s nice like that.) It definitely helped to put my intentions of catching up on paper, draw out a plan and (somewhat) stick to it. I found that it kept me focused and accountable.
This was my original catch up plan, all outlined with funky stickers and crossed out mistakes. If I knew I’d be sharing it all over the Internet when I was writing it, I’d make it nicer, but alas, you get the real life version. You can read more about it here. The lovely pink project list printable is free to download, courtesy of sweet Ann-Marie. (and yes, anything that is a free printable deserves a lovely word in front of it, at least in this blog post 😉 )
I learned that I can’t use any of the nice, readily available Project Life photo planning templates. Not because I want to spend time drawing a somewhat looking square and chart it myself, but because I don’t know what page protectors I will be using until I look at all the photos I have for that week. Did I take more portrait or landscape photos this week? Do I need a spread full of 3×4 pockets or squares or 4×6 or a mix? Do I need a small or a large card for journaling or will a quote card do?
See, I don’t know any of these things until I look at the photos. Photos are the starting point of my story telling and they dictate the page protectors, the colours of the Project Life cards and the embellishments. Photos are pretty much The Boss in my albums.
I was working on this challenge one week at the time. I looked at all the photos taken that week, sketched out a plan what to print, colour edited them using the photo apps on my iPhone (more details on that in a separate blog post), and grouped the smaller photos into 4×6 format for easy printing. I print all my photos at home using Canon Selphy printer. I love it and it’s definitely a game changer not having to go somewhere and wait for my photos.
Once the photos were printed, I put a piece of paper around them, indicating week # and dates they belong to. Seems like an unnecessary over-organization but with that many stacks of photos printed, last thing I wanted to do is spend time going back and forth to my sketches to figure out which photo goes into which week.
I made a little chart in my planner so I could see exactly the amount of catch up needed to be done (remind me to never EVER fall behind like this again, okay? okay, thanks). I checked off tasks as they happened so I would see some progress of getting closer to my goal. After all, the progress and the effort were the key for me not to feel too overwhelmed with this predicament I put myself in.
This is how my pages look post mega-photo-print session. I trimmed them accordingly, and with a reference to my planned out sketches I put them into their page pockets. After all the photos were placed, I chose the Project Life cards for backgrounds and journaling inserts. Like I mentioned, it’s always photos first, paper/backgrounds/inserts second. I have to see how each photo would look with a particular background colour, as well as the spread in its entirety. Everything has to be in harmony, and matching photos with the Project Life cards is a big part of it, for me.
I began putting little bits and pieces of our life in a clear plastic container as they were being collected. I knew that not everything will go in my album, but I wanted to collect things anyway, and purge later when I was actually working on that specific week.
Here’s a look at some of the memorabilia I’ve collected over the summer that may or may not make it into my Project Life pages. Pamphlets from musicals, plays and suspension bridge attractions, Starbucks card with a cool design, movie tickets, coffee sleeves, packaging from stamps I bought, farmer’s market ad, a feather, dry flower petals, business cards.. you get the idea.
Memorabilia and trinkets are awesome. They add character to the pages, amplifying the effect of time travel when you look at the album. Realistically, I can’t put it all in, so I have to select what stays and what goes. (or at least what goes in the clear plastic envelopes that I can add to my pages as inserts)
After all the photos are printed, memorabilia is collected and assigned per week, Project Life cards are chosen as backgrounds and filler cards, here comes the fun part: scrapbooking it all.
I have learned that I very much dislike the photo picking, editing, printing and cutting process.
I somewhat like the choosing Project Life cards to go with the photos (“yay, I’m finally using my stash and that one pretty quote card goes perfectly with that photo!”) but somewhat dislike that process too (“I want to look at ALL my Project Life kits to make sure I choose the BEST, most suitable cards for this week. Oh, too many choices, now I’m tired, let’s take a nap instead.”).
Actually gluing down the photos and embellishing them is what I love the most. Note how I used the word love not like 🙂
Journaling is something I would like to do more of. I tend to tell my stories with photos and prewritten quotes. Writing was never been my strong suit so I shy away from it or just don’t know what to write except the usual “we went here. it was fun.” business. Clearly I’m in need of some serious help from Ali Edwards, the Queen of Story Telling. (have you seen her new website launch yet? I can watch that intro on the loop for two days and not get tired of it.)
So, let’s get back to the question: what worked and what didn’t work for me in this Project Life Catch Up challenge.
♥ Having a planner to jot down my goals and ideas
♥ Having a deadline for accomplishing my goal, as well as breaking it down into smaller tasks of what needed to be done each day.
♥ The pressure and support of my Instagram community. (pressure on my part, support on theirs). I said I would do it and I knew there were people counting on me to do it. So I did it.
♥ Printing my photos at home, at the convenience of printing as little or as many photos I wanted all in the comfort of my own home.
♥ Not over-analyzing the embellishments. Last year I would spend hours, HOURS, deciding what little embellishments and stickers to put around my photos. Pages would end up looking too busy (nice and full of detail, but a little too busy) and I would spend waaaay too much time on the week’s spread. This year I took the simplicity approach and let my photos tell the story, instead of the stickers around them.
♥ Pulling out my Project Life core (and mini) kits and keeping them all open and accessible while I chose the filler cards for the pages. Usually I go back and forth between the kits, opening it, looking for a card, closing it and putting it away. Works when you have one week to work on, but not when you’re working in batches of weeks. Keeping (almost) all the paper products out where I can see it made it easy to fill entire month of November with Project Life cards in one night.
What didn’t work:
♥ Using pre-designed photo planning templates.
♥ Thinking I can print some photos, work on them, then print more, work on those. I couldn’t start working on the photos I already printed until I printed them ALL. It was like an itch that needed scratching. Couldn’t help it.
♥ Thinking I can print 12 weeks worth of photos in one night, or day even. It takes me anywhere from an hour to two hours just to organize, evaluate what photos to print, edit, collage and then actually print one week of photos. Yes, you read that right, two hours for one week of photos, and that’s just to get the photos from digital to physical form in front of me. I think having a wi-fi Canon Selphy printer would speed things up in that department but right now I have the old CP800 and I have to go through my computer to print/collage/edit them.
♥ Procrastinating. It just never does. “The problem is that you think you have time.” is a Pinterest inspiration quote that comes to mind, with which I 100% agree.
In the end, I might not have completed all 20 weeks in the last two weeks, but I sure have completed 6, and printed 11 more weeks to work with in the next little while. Pages got done, lessons were learned and progress was made.
So there you have it, my thoughts on the Project Life catch up.
Did you participate? If so, how did you do? Do you have any suggestions? Thoughts? Ideas? I’d love to hear them. Please tell me your ways 🙂