The essence of the Project Life system is to make memory keeping through photos and journaling a sustainable project. Last year was my first year doing it, and I’m still only half-way through the year. So I knew that this year I needed to make some changes if I wanted to keep up with it. I did a lot of thinking and planning, and prep work, and here are my “rules” for myself that I think will keep Project Life 2014 the do-able, not-too-time-consuming and oh-so-gratifying endeavor it was meant to be:
1) Pick two fonts. By picking two fonts (for me, this is one for journaling, one for title-type text), I save all the time I used to use picking fonts, which as we all know can be a time-sucker. This has the added benefit of giving the album a clean, unified look and allowing the stories and the photographs to really capture the attention, as they should. I picked Oswald and Aleo after reading about them in Caylee’s Plans for Project Life 2014 post. I looked at them, I liked them, I picked them. Boom, done. So much of keeping PL manageable, for me, is just actually making a decision and sticking to it.
2) Set up pages beforehand. One of the best things that I learned from watching Becky Higgins on CreativeLIVE (CreativeLIVE classes are free if you watch them live, by the way; great resource) is to “batch process” when doing Project Life, and it really does make a difference. This is also a built-in limitation: I set up the pages using only one template and I just make my photos work in that setup (most of the time). Rather than setting up my pages every week, I spent some time upfront choosing paper, title cards, and even adding in dates so that when I am ready to insert photos, I can just concentrate on that. It has definitely helped shave weekly time down to a conquerable chunk.
3) Consolidate photos. The mental energy required to gather photos from my phone, Dear’s phone, and the camera was sometimes too big of a hurdle to cross to get to the actual meat of the week’s scrapping. Now we’ve set up a shared Dropbox folder and automatic uploads of both of our photos so that getting phone pictures into production mode is just a few clicks away.
4) Keep journaling notes in one central place. I spent a good amount of time searching for a journal app that was right for me. I wanted one with a pleasant interface that had good tagging, sorting, and filtering abilities; that I could sync across all devices, including online on my desktop (important for PL!); that I could do voice-to-text with; that backed up reliably, etc. I settled on Diaro (I know there are a lot of iPhone apps that people love for Project Life, but there are Android Project Lifers!), and I love it. I can easily jot down the funny things the kids say and my enjoyment from my morning time with the Lord, for example, and then when I’m ready to add journaling to the week, I can simply cut and paste. It’s been working SO well.
5) Get everything (mostly) 4×6 ready. I do keep some photos in mind for the smaller 3×4 slots, but for the most part I try to have everything ready to pop into the 4×6 sections of the template. But I’m one of those that has a hard time narrowing down to only 7-8 photos a week (trying to get better about this!). This means I usually have a few mini collages, and the fastest way for me to do these is to do them right in Lightroom rather than in Photoshop. Of course, there are templates that can be purchased for this type of thing as well. The main point is keeping “extra” work to a minimum by the time it’s time to fill in the week’s layout.
6) Say goodbye to embellishing. For some people, scrapbooking wouldn’t be scrapbooking without embellishments, but at this point, keeping current is more valuable to me than an embellished page (which, don’t get me wrong, I — often — enjoy as much as the next person). And again, I love the cleaner look that this gives the pages.
7) Get familiar with uploading videos and making QR codes. I looooove including QR codes to videos in my layouts (more on this later), and it makes me feel like I really am assembling a little window into our lives. Plus those videos aren’t stuck in digital world (well, not in the same way) anymore — they’re getting out there, culled through, to be consumed and enjoyed. The thought of doing this can seem overwhelming, but the process is actually very, very simple. Once you do it a few times, popping videos into your layouts is quick and you won’t go back.
These tips boil down to 1) making choices beforehand and sticking to them and 2) keeping everything organized but simple. So far, so good. So worth it!!
To read more about how I started digital scrapbooking, see Digi Scrapbooking with Project Life, A Foray.