Project Life–Lessons Learned for 2013

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Since I’ve been doing some form of Project Life for a few years, I’ve learned a lot about what works for me and what doesn’t. I thought I’d share my thoughts today on how I will be doing 2013 in case you plan to start the system yourself!
What worked in 2012:
  • Documenting a general week snapshot in a 2 page layout instead of daily photographs.
  • Using paper version so I have a spot for all our “stuff”.
  • Using Lightroom to print in 3x4 format (this tutorial by Scrappy Jedi makes it so easy!). I found that if I placed my images on a 4x6 canvas in logical fashion (making sure that portrait photos are together on the same canvas, and that if I had two images of a similar item that I place them together), then I could easily slide them into a 4x6 pocket if I had one open instead of cutting them apart.
  • Being flexible about what goes in each pocket - I don't need only journaling cards in the 3x4 pockets or photos only in the 4x6. And my week title card doesn't always have to be in a landscape 4x6 pocket.
  • My Lightroom rating system makes picking photos so much easier. My photo workflow is to import all my photos (camera card and phone) into Lightroom once every week or two. Then I spend a few minutes "rating" my photos in Lightroom. Good photos that I think are either quality, or capture a memory well (even if quality is bad) get one star. My favorite photos get two stars. There's a few photos every year that get three stars, which are my ultimate favorite. Photos that are just filler get no stars. Then when I'm ready to print my photos for a Project Life spread, I filter by date range and stars. I almost always print the 2 star photos in 4x6 for Project Life. The one star photos get put into a "Print" folder where I put them either in 4x6 or 3x4.
  • Printing all the photos then deciding how to lay them out. I know this sounds unorganized, but honestly the picking of the photos is my least favorite part, so the less time I can spend on it the more likely I am to get my weeks done. I found that generally if I printed my photos in sizes that made sense (most phone photos I print in 3x4 - two to a 4x6 canvas), I could find a page protector that worked for that week. The only thing I'm careful with is my portrait photos that I want to print in a full 4x6. I have to make sure I have a logical number to use, as those pockets are more limited in the page protector selection.
  • After I put in my photos in the spread, I then planned out my journaling cards and week title card to fill the gaps. This way if I had a lot of 4x6 slots open I could fill them with some larger journaling cards, or attach a smaller 3x4 photo to a 4x6 card and journal next to it. It also meant that if I was out of 4x6 slots, I could make my title card portrait oriented or one of the small 3x4 cards.
  • Using my Facebook status history to create journaling cards. This was a great way to capture all the funny things Logan said. I'd copy then and paste them onto a digital journaling card and add a date. SO easy.
  • Letting go of the rigidity of putting things only in the week they happen. I kept a stash of Logan's art, school work, etc., that I'd grab from to put in each center insert for the week. As long as it was generally in the same timeframe, I went with it. That way the weeks he had a lot of stuff balanced out with the weeks that he didn't have much to include.
  • The labels that Staples sells under the Martha Stewart line are my favorite for adding text to a photo. Although I can easily do it in Photoshop, it’s much more efficient for me to do it with these labels and a little note! (Also refer back to item 6 where I hate working with the photos up front).

What didn’t work in 2012 and how I’ll fix it in 2013:

  • I saw somany awesome pages by people like Lisa Truesdell and Kelly Purkey and tried to put in similar creative touches. I’ve learned that this makes it more difficult for me to get motivated to finish my spread. I would prefer to channel my creativity to my scrapbook layouts than my Project Life albums! FIX: So this year I’m going to purchase the Seafoam kit and use only that kit. Literally everything I need aside from my photos and memorabilia is that kit and a binder. All that matters to me is it is done - I'm as thrilled looking through an album with all core kit stuff as I am customized journaling cards, etc. And I can't tell you how relieved I was to wrap up my 2012 album in early January this year instead of it dragging on for months getting caught up!
  • There are so many cute journaling cards out there in digiland and many of them are free downloads! This makes finding a card to do journaling cumbersome (since I do a mix of print journaling and handwritten). FIX:This year I’m going to purchase the Seafoam digital journaling cards and pick from only that when I’m doing my printed journaling. I like to do the printed cards when I have a lot to say or I'm copying from something already in text form somewhere (like Facebook statuses!).
Seafoam Edition Journaling Cards
  • In 2012, I had a 2 page spread for every week then also up to 3 inserts in between to hold extra photos, art from Logan, etc. Too many inserts! FIX:  I need to stick to a two page spread with one insert if we have some art or schoolwork to share. This will help with album size!!

  • Choosing my photos remains the toughest part for me. When we have big events like birthday parties, vacations and Christmas I tend to put in all my good photos from those events and end up with no room for journaling. FIX: I really don’t need all the photos from those events since I usually do mini albums anyway. So this year I'll cut down the number of photos, which will help limit those inserts and again, help with album size!! I want this album to be a focus on our everyday life, so big events that get their own album (vacations, Christmas and Logan's birthday parties) will be limited to no more than 2 photos.


I have a TON of my last two Project life kits (Cherry and Clementine) leftover, particularly journaling cards. Since I plan to stick with my Seafoam kit for 2012, I just purchased a mini album that coordinates with my Clementine kit and use it for one of my vacation mini albums! I also use the cards a lot in my normal scrapbook layouts. They are a great size journaling card.

Did you use Project Life in 2012? I'd love to hear what you learned and if you are going to continue in 2013!

1 comment:

  1. So funny - I'm the opposite of you! I obsess over the photos and love doing the work on them, but drag my feet over the journaling or embellishments (which means I don't use very many). In fact I usually have multiple weeks (or months) of photos in the book and the journaling way way way behind. :D (I use an app and a word doc to make notes throughout the week, so I always have plenty to write...just not much motivation to do it.)

    I bought Seafoam as well and can't wait for it to arrive! I'm thinking I'll do something similar to Cathy Z with a weekly summary of some sort and then just journal the bigger events of the week. And yeah, my albums overflow with the "stuff" of life as well! I do hold myself to just a photo or two of big events. Mostly because either I have a book of the event or my mom makes traditional pages for the kids individual books.


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