Newsflash: I’m not exactly caught up.
I am, however, far more caught up than I thought I would be almost 4 months in. I tend to enthusiastically start projects and then never find the time to finish them. But! I.AM.DETERMINED. to complete Project Life at least through the end of 2012.
I’ve found that my BIGGEST obstacle in staying caught up with Project Life is simply editing photos. I take a lot of photos, and when I take them with my ‘big’ camera I take them in RAW format. So they HAVE to be edited and reformatted as jpgs before I can order prints. The journaling, and the print ordering and the putting the spreads together are all a cake-walk compared to the time it takes me to stay caught up on photo-editing.
I’ve got some little tricks that I’ve developed to help me stay caught up. There are always the classic good ones on getting it done, like adding it into your routine, but here are some Project-Life-specific ideas for staying (mostly) caught up.
Take it with you:
This is two-fold. First, I sometimes bring my laptop to my ‘day job’ with me to edit photos during my lunch break. It’s an hour long, and with the slow-pokiness of the computer+huge photo files I don’t get a ton done. But it’s more than zero. And that always helps.
The other part of taking it with me everywhere: I’ve made up these mock Project Life layouts that I use to scribble in photo and story ideas and pre-plan my layout. I do this THROUGHOUT the week, and carry the draft in my purse everywhere.
My Project Life weeks run Monday – Sunday. Usually Monday afternoon or so (while at the ‘day job’), I find a piece of scrap paper and make the basic grid. I had previously xeroxed a bunch of blank ones, but we have SO much scrap paper at work it is less wasteful for me to just use that.
Then I note in the date in the top left corner (because that will be the journaling card), mark off a pocket for the read-watched card (though exact placement usually changes), and then write in any images I KNOW I’ll have. For example: Birthday dinner Sunday night would go in the bottom right corner. Or first Vet appointment for our kittens can be penciled in at the bottom of the left side (roughly).
This draft-layout changes all the time, when Andrew sends me photos of his week or when we have unexpected social events or changing the placement of certain photos based on what else happens that week, so by the end of the week there are all kinds of crossings-out and more scribbles.
(you can see all the writing is messy and not very thorough, but this is just for me and as long as I can read it and understand my notes it works)
But having this draft layout with me all week helps me remember details and days when I go to order photos later. I cannot recommend pre-planning your layout any higher. Being able to do some of the work on-the-go definitely helps me stay caught up!
I keep these draft layouts until after the photos have been ordered and received. I use them as a reference for when I put the week together, and they are SO helpful!
Pre-labeling weeks and events
I previously wrote about my recurring elements of every week’s layout : The date card, and the ‘Read-Watched’ card. Both of these I can create in big bursts and have my weeks pre-labeled for months in the future. Having these cards already made when I go to put the week together helps A LOT. I still need to fill out the info for the cards, but the place holder is there.
Also as I just mentioned, taking a pre-planned draft of my layout everywhere definitely helps me stay caught up.
And a big part of that draft layout is pre-labeling events. Fourth of July, for example.
Or, last week we spent the weekend in Big Bear, so at the beginning of the week on my draft layout, I wrote in the date-journaling card, the read-watched card, and then 4 or 5 of the squares I just put ‘Big Bear’. I KNEW I would have plenty of photos from the weekend to fill those pockets, and I wanted to not have to stress about finding other things during the week to put in Project Life. If the week ended up being busier, I could always cross-out the Big Bear pockets, fill the basic spread with rest-of-the-week photos and include a Big Bear insert.
Being able to do this organizing work ahead of time definitely helps me stay caught up.
- Kam of Campfire Chic uses sticky notes to help her pre-label space in her Project Life album
- Balzer Designs writes about 6 months of Project Life – including the wisdom of having a system
Give yourself mini-challenges:
This isn’t something I personally have needed to use, but I imagine that if you’re feeling burnt out or bored with the project, giving yourself min-challenges for any given week would help get those creative juices flowing again and get you back in the rhythm of Project Life.
Some ideas from around the web:
- Choose a color scheme. Jamaica Makes, Ann Marie Loves Paper and Creative Blessing all did a ‘White Week’ in which the whole week was centered around the color white. You can do this yourself by choosing a color, or pattern or any other visual to base your photos and paper around
- Choose a subject. Each week covers your everyday life, presumably. But what if one week you focus on telling the stories surrounding your home. Or one week you focus on stories about your food. Or self-portraits. Or your pet. All valid, all interesting. All part of your own story.
I’ve got a couple weeks’ worth of photos to edit, and then I’ll be “caught up” …..
What are your tips for staying caught up with Project Life?
Project Life, created by Becky Higgins, is a flexible, easy-to-use, highly customizable way to preserve your memories and record your stories in an easy way. Learn more about getting started with Project Life or check out all my Project Life posts.