Project Life Tips -

My interest in Project Life started in 2012. I had been witnessing bloggers like Ali Edwards and Elise Blaha Cripe posting their layouts online and thought that it was a neat system that I could get on board with. Plus, what a great way to actually get photos off my computer and into books that I could flip through!

I valiantly started documenting 2012 in the digital format, to be printed in a photobook all at once when I was done. I started in July 2012 with zest and excitement. And then I realized that this was a lot more difficult than I expected (so many options for photos and digital supplies!). And then the procrastination set in. And then I finally finished that 2012 book in March of 2014, with 2013 and 2014 memories completely untouched.

Here’s what I thought of my first completed year of layouts and my plan for ongoing layouts.

1. Time and Effort

I thought I would be able to keep up and document every week as it happened, like all the other bloggers I saw. I was wrong. I realized that I needed to keep the pressure off myself.
New Plan: It’s supposed to be fun. Set aside some time each week or month. Turn on some music. Spend an hour or two. And just chip away at it.

2. Weekly Format

It was entirely too difficult for me to fit the quantity of photos I had taken (either too few or too many) into a Sunday to Saturday weekly spread.
New Plan: Monthly format, with spreads just telling the stories of the month. Not too much fussing with the exact dates or chronological order within that month.

3. Sorting and Selecting Photos

I had created photo folders with dates for each week ahead of time, separate from actually working on the layouts. Even though I was super behind on making layouts, I had already pre-populated the photos I wanted to include by putting them in my folders. This worked out so well for me to have the photos ready and waiting when I was sitting down to do layouts.
New Plan: I continue to do this with monthly folders instead. I’m also using PhotoMechanic to help me select out the winners from the month and then make a copy for Project Life-ing quickly.

Project Life Tips -

4. Templates

My first book was made entirely with the official Digital Project Life page templates. These mimic the designs available in physical format. I like the flexibility of using digital templates because I could merge “pockets” together or rotate the template around. I didn’t love how round the corners were though…
New Plan: I switched over to Cathy Zielske’s Life Basics Templates: 01, 02, 05

Project Life Tips -

5. Title Card

When I started out, I wasn’t using a core kit. I was just cobbling together a variety of digital supplies that I found for free. My title cards were usually some digital paper that I liked, with maybe a ghosted text box, and then text giving the week number and the dates for that week. Too many choices; too much time wasted making these decisions.
New Plan: The first spread of each month gets one “pocket” dedicated to a month card using the 2014 calendar designed by Jasmine Dowling.

6. Photo Editing

You could probably spend a lot of time “perfecting” your photos. But I certainly don’t have time for that. I’m already strapped for time!
New Plan: RadLab. My style is to add about 50% Oh Snap! and maybe 10% of Punch Out!… and depending on the photo: Lights On at full blast.

7. Fonts

I could spend all day deciding which fonts to use. And some days, I spent way too much time hemming and hawing over fonts. I also didn’t really know which font size would look best, so I basically just guessed. Once I got a printed book back though, I could look to see the font size that was optimal from the variety of spreads I had.
New Plan: I pre-selected a set of two font styles to use for the whole year. And also, pre-selected the sizes for various functions (captions for spreads, photo captions, and journaling).

Project Life Tips -

8. Journaling

Uh, practically nonexistent. It’s pretty tough to actually remember stuff when you’re doing layouts 6 months later. But I realized that the photos tell a lot by themselves. And if journaling isn’t for me, then let’s just keep going with layouts being photo-heavy.
New Plan: Add a few more captions to photos, but keep expectations low for extensive journaling.

9. Ephemera

This one is tough for digital. It’s not like with the physical pockets and filling them with physical objects. You pretty much have to photograph ticket stubs, etc. My problem is that I won’t always remember to photograph them on the day it’s happening. And then my file-sorting goes to hell if I took a picture of stuff after the fact.
New Plan: Eh, I get what I get. If I miss it, no big. It’s about documenting what you have. Something is better than nothing. And it doesn’t need to be perfect.

10. Supplies

I saved the big category for last. Sometimes I’m fighting a losing battle with sifting through files to find the perfect journaling card to go with my layout. So many minutes and hours just shuffling back and forth between folders and folders of supplies. Some core kits, some other designs, loads of miscellaneous freebies.
New Plan: One kit per month of layouts. Embellish minimally. Reduce decision fatigue. Creative constraints can actually be freeing. And I’m feeling way more accomplished and happy about it.

The main takeaway: Don’t get too bogged down with what everyone else is doing – Sometimes you just have to close Pinterest.

Project Life is a memory-keeping system created by Becky Higgins. She’s awesome. Go visit her website for more information or watch her 3-day course on CreativeLive.

Photos edited by RadLab. (Affiliate Link)

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