Here I am, with almost 8 months of Project Lifing (it can be a verb, right?) under my belt, and I have to say I am ecstatic with the lengths I have come in such a short time. I have managed to scrapbook about 100 pages of our lives…in 8 months.
100 pages people! You do the math. This system works. It is fast, seamless, and so flexible. That being said, like any other habit/hobby, there IS a learning curve, and you have to figure out what works for you. Without any further ado, here are my Top 10 Project Life Tips that worked for ME in 2015 (and I highly recommend you give them a shot!)
1. “Embrace the Imperfection” and live by the 80/20 “Good Enough” Principle. I have a friend who’s mantra is “Embrace the Imperfection.” While this concept is so versatile, and I really am trying to apply it to ALL areas of my life, I love how applicable it is to scrapbooking. Not every page needs to be magazine-worthy to be beautiful. These are YOUR stories with your loved ones- these photos will elicit beautiful, heart-warming memories no matter if you decide to go with this font or that font. Imperfection is still beautiful. Embrace it. Of course, easier said than done. If I am being honest, there are times that I spend WAY, and I mean, WAY too much time trying to take “the perfect photo” (of a toddler? Ha! yeah right), or nitpicking every single little thing on my scrapbook layouts. Scrapbooking IS therapeutic for me, and I enjoy spending time creating and making things pretty, but still…at some point you really just need to accept that it’s good enough and move on! Life isn’t perfect and neither is memory keeping. I remember reading this post on Becky’s blog this year about the 80/20 Principle and it was like every word was written for me. Do yourself a huge favor, and go read it. Ponder it. Tattoo it on your forehead. This will save you so much time and pointless stress, especially when it comes to memory-keeping. Trust me on this one.
2. Use Google Photos to back up and consolidate your photos. This was the best thing I ever did to simplify my PL workflow. Since 99% of our photos are taken with our phones, I wanted a backup method that was wireless, reliable and had a compatible mobile app. Once I discovered how fast, efficient, and FREE the Google Photos app was…I was sold. My husband’s phone backs up to the same Google account, so when it comes time to scrapbook, I have all my photos in one spot for seamless photo selection. Google automatically sorts them by date taken, and it has a smart search feature to search for people, animals, things, you name it. I also have a Western Digital My Cloud network drive that wirelessly backs up our photos through their My Cloud app, because I like redundancy when it comes to backing up years and years of photos and videos. On the occasion that I use my DSLR, I transfer the photos from it to the computer and then upload the photos directly to Google Photos and to my external hard drive. Pretty simple & painless. You can also upload scanned photos to Google Photos, and as long as you have the “date taken” set in the photo info/details, Google will auto-sort those as well. For more ideas on photo organization, read about how I backup and consolidate all my photos.
3. Start where you are. It can be so overwhelming to want to jump into organizing photos and scrapbooking memories from 10 years ago, but in my experience, the easiest way to get started is with the present. Technology (like Google Photos above, network drives, as well as Dropbox, iCloud, and good old digital file folder computer organization) has simplified photo organization SO much, and provides a crucial foundation for your photo organization and workflow process. In my opinion, it’s a LOT harder to organize and document previous years where SO much more time and effort are required (sorting, scanning, and tagging photos), when you don’t have an already solid system in place for your CURRENT photos. Start with backing up/organizing your mobile photos, then your digital photos from this year, and once those are consolidated, scrapbook them! Once you have this year done, work backwards. The other advantage to starting with the present is that you don’t have to rack your brain for dates & memories, because you are living them! It’s a whole lot easier to journal about what you are doing now than what you did 10 years ago. Take advantage of the simplicity of starting now, and just do it!
4. Include QRC videos. Being able to watch a home video, from your scrapbook, with the click of a button on a mobile app, has been one of the biggest memory-keeping game-changers for me, period. I know, I know, QRCs aren’t the prettiest things ever. But remember how we are embracing the imperfection? The alternative is having a bunch of home videos that hibernate in your hard drive and never get watched. To me, the real beauty is capturing those precious moments and actually getting to relive them later in scrapbooks that actually get read! There is no substitute for videos…use them! Not sure how? This tutorial by Traci Reed walks you through the step by step process of adding videos to your Project Life pages.
5. Use social media screenshots to infuse personality & fun details about your daily life. Some of the funniest & best moments in my day are recorded on social media- How could I NOT want to revisit my husband’s goofy snapchat messages or our nerdy Harry Potter emoji conversations? They’re without a doubt my favorite parts of my scrapbooks!
6. Make memory-keeping a priority. Carve out the same time slot every day, week, or month to get it done. For me, a few evenings a week has been the easiest time to dedicate to scrapbooking. I know that with our family’s schedule, evenings will be a consistent time where I will to be able to sit down and take some “me” time. For you, it might be in the mornings, right before bed, weekends, or maybe one day a month where you crank out as many pages as possible in a few hours. With the Project Life App, you could even scrapbook on your lunch break, or show up early to the carpool lane at school to scrapbook from the palm of your hand. There is no right answer, except whatever works for you. The important thing is to find the best groove and time slot for you, and stick to it. Make it a priority.
7. Write things down. This is key for me, especially for my son’s baby album, because I have a terrible memory (see Narc 101), and I want to remember as many details as possible. I’m not hugely into super-organized printables, so for me, keeping a simple spreadsheet of the layout name/theme, and the details/photos that I want to include in it is sufficient. This helps me so much because when I sit down to scrapbook, I can choose whichever layout I feel like working on from my list, and I have all the info for the journaling ready to go. I also keep a simple list in my notebook of all the photos/videos I still want to take which I pull out from time to time and work on.
8. Use lists in your pages and as inspiration for layouts. I was really intrigued when I came across the Library of Memories concept developed by Stacy Julian, and I saw that one of the categories is About Us. I think that talking about random aspects of our personalities is something that doesn’t come naturally to us scrapbookers because it doesn’t fit into a standard chronological format, but it is SO important because it helps others really understand the people behind the photos. I’ve resolved to be better about this (and have even contemplated deviating from the traditional chronological organization in favor of the LoM system), and part of that resolve has been to use lists as a source of inspiration for my layouts. I might choose “My Favorite Things”, “Top 10 Reads of 2015” or “Counting my Blessings” as a theme. Or as I have planned above, “Things that Make Me Laugh” and “Favorite Quotes and Inspiration”. You might choose to take a bunch of pictures of the things on your list and make a whole layout out of it. Or, for a quick and easy approach, throw a list into the regular weekly/ monthly layouts you are already doing. Becky Higgins has some cute cards for this exact purpose. The possibilities are endless, and the result is a scrapbook that perfectly and uniquely captures YOU, and not just a timeline of events in your life.
9. Organize your PL cards by color. This won’t work for everyone, but for me it has been so helpful to group cards by color. Because I tend to stick with neutral cards (white, black, gray, tan, brown), I pulled those colors out of the kits I bought and put them in their own folder so I wasn’t having to sort through all the super colorful ones I didn’t want to use. Because the cards are named by the kit they came from, they stayed alphabetically grouped together by kit even within my new folder, so I could see which ones were designed to coordinate together. I know Becky advocates using only one kit per layout to simplify things, and let’s be honest, that IS definitely the easiest way, so if you need simplicity, ignore this tip and do for whatever works for you! I just like having a little more flexibility to mix and match between kits, so sorting cards by color worked for me. Next year I plan to dive into using the Photoshop Elements Organizer to tag my PL cards and sort them in a bunch of ways- by color, kit name, designer, theme, etc. Can’t wait to see how that goes!
10. Have fun! If you ever get to the point where scrapbooking becomes a chore and not an enjoyable hobby, figure out what is cramping your style and change it up so that it CAN be fun! Find the root of the problem- Is your workflow disorganized and inefficient? If so, what needs to be changed about your process to make memory keeping easier and smoother for YOU? Are you overscheduled and not leaving time for memory keeping? (Read Tip #6 above) Are you struggling with unrealistic expectations or perfectionism? (Read Tip #1) Are you uninspired or lacking creativity? Shop around for inspiration online, and pick 1 new thing to try. That’s it. Just one. Yes there are a million cool ideas out there, but pick one that resonates with you, and apply it to your next layout. That one new thing will hopefully make you want to try one MORE new thing, and before you know it you will be all excited about scrapbooking again!
Got any questions? Insights? What are some of YOUR tried and true tips for Project Life success?