My best tips for digital Project Life™ 2014

Cathy ZielskeProject Life, Tutorials110 Comments

Last year, right around Week 17, I did it. I made the switch from a hybrid Project Life approach to a full-fledged digital one. It was kind of an impulse move. I’d been toying with the idea for oh, all of about a day, and thought: Ima just do it. So I did and there has been no looking back.


I put together a video showing you how I am getting everything set up for optimal digital workflow in 2014. They key pieces include:

• Using iCal to figure out my weekly dates [Edited to add: Holy MOLY! Jen just posted that you can simply go to Preferences in iCal, under Advanced, and turn on Show Week Numbers. I love my readers and their genius-ness. Ignore that portion of the video where I manually add the weeks. Thank you.]

• Using iPhoto to create Smart Folders broken into four yearly quarters

• Using the Day One app to jot down notes every day (or as often as I can) to help me keep a weekly record of what’s going on in our daily lives (Note: the Day Journal app for Android is very similar to Day One.)

• Digital templates (I use my own designs, but the Digital Project Life store has tons of Becky’s original designs to choose from)

• Organizing my folder for ease of workflow

Everything is covered in this lovely, 17-minute video tutorial, including a photo of my husband looking like a total Mac Daddy pimp.

Best Practices for Digital Project Life from Cathy Zielske on Vimeo.

Probably the most important thing you can do to prepare for doing Project Life is to remember that this is memory keeping and memory keeping is supposed to be TWO things:

1. Fun.

2. Suited to how YOU work best.

That’s it. Notice how the word ‘stress’ does not appear anywhere in Item No. 1 or 2?

One of the best decisions I made this year was to get over the need for a two-page spread every week. There have been some weeks where I just didn’t have either enough photos or notes to fill the spread. So I said, “Pass!” and just made a single page.

If you find you’re experiencing too much stress over any scrapbooking project, that is a sign unto you that maybe you should not do that particular project.

There really can be joy in doing something simply and consistently with our photos and memories. And I swear to you, if I’m working my way through 2014 and I suddenly start to hate this project, or if it starts to feel more and more like a joyless obligation, I’m going to stop doing it and move on with my life.

I can guarantee you this: no one in my family will care. 

Honestly. Aidan will not start soliciting applications for a new mother.

Coleman will not need therapy as an adult because Weeks 27 through 52 went undocumented in his 14th year.

Consider your own childhood. How many of you are like me… just thankful there are photos at all? You get my point.

But I can tell you this: I don’t think that I will lose the joy because I have found a way to do Project Life that fits within the following criteria:

1. It’s fun.

2. It’s suited to how I work best.

MAN, that feels good.

If you have any questions at all about my process, or any process you think I could speak to, by all means leave me a comment.

And, by all means, share your best preparation tips, too.


Becky Higgins’ Site—Everything you need to know about the basics of Project Life. Plus, there’s a store coming soon!

Digital Project Life—The official home base for digital Project Life supplies.

CZ Design Digitals—Your source for all of my digital products, including the templates I use for my own pages.




Cathy ZielskeMy best tips for digital Project Life™ 2014

110 Comments on “My best tips for digital Project Life™ 2014”

  1. #1

    “Coleman will not need therapy as an adult because Weeks 27 through 52 went undocumented in his 14th year.”

    This cracked me up. You are absolutely right. 🙂

    Thank you for posting this! I can’t watch the video at work but you bet I’m tuning in later tonight! You’re the main inspiration for me switching to digital in 2014!

  2. #2

    You are completely spot-on. I treasure the few photos there are of my childhood, and my kids will treasure that I have *extracted* some gems from the bazillion they have of their childhoods (the opposite problem!). Love this approach!

  3. #3

    Loved this so much! I have been toying with the idea of more white space on my layouts next year. Seeing yours has really inspired me!! I keep a notepad on my desk and write the things I want to capture for the week but I have not been writing on a daily basis. I just downloaded the DayJournal app for Android.

    One other thing you didn’t cover in this video is sharing a Dropbox folder with your spouse & kids. I know you have talked about it before though. I LOVE having a shared folder that we all use. I have folders in my Dropbox (one for each week) and everyone can add photos to it.

  4. #4

    Thanks Cathy :). One of the things I have to give the green light to is just doing one page for a week if I haven’t got enough for a double layout. A question – what do you do if the next week is a double layout again. Do you just do the front and back of a page rather than side by side pages and work that way until your next one page week? Although I could see digital PL working for me, I need to research who might print 12×12 pages or books here in the UK. If any of your readers have the answer to that I’d love to know.

  5. #5

    This is just what I needed. Thank you so much! I just received my Artifact Uprising book that I used your gratitude template…and it is fab! I would LOVE for them to offer a 10.5 book for Project Life. May have to give them ‘jingle’ to encourage them to do so. Thanks again so very much.

  6. #6

    Great overview! My workflow is very similar (LOVE smart folders!!!)

    One thing that might make your life easier- If you go into Preferences in iCal, then Advanced, you can check the box that says “show week numbers”. Voila, less copying and pasting for you!


  7. #7
    Terri Torrez

    We made a family decision to not do Project Life next year. We all love the results but I spent most of this year dreading the process. I will probably finish this year (at some point). But just knowing that after this month I won’t be getting further behind is a huge weight off my shoulders. I’m going back to doing traditional layouts for a while.

  8. #11

    Terri, GOOD for you. Honestly. Thats some self awareness, woman. : ) Like I said, if it starts to not be fun, Im not going to do it either. Who can predict what 2014 will be like, right?

  9. #12

    Cathy, I so value your opinion, and am hoping you can help me finally decide on which format I’m going to do in 2014. This year, I set up digi templates in 8.5×11 vertical for project life and have plans to print a complete hardcover book at Artifact Uprising. I have June – August complete. However, I have full confidence that I can (and will) finish the rest of the year. The Day One app will save me. All hail Day One!! For 2014, I’m toying with the idea of going traditional. Having done it both ways, I’m hoping you can offer insights I haven’t considered.

    Traditional Pros – it’s creative, uses cute product, has instant gratification of progress (hopefully providing momentum), and is easy to include memorabilia.
    Traditional Cons – the book is huge, especially if I end up following trends and using more than one/year, the amount of available product and ‘inspiration’ can be overwhelming, it has the potential to be not so clean and simple
    Digital Pros – the end product is small, it’s easy to catch up when behind, it’s clean (without all the bumpy embellishments)
    Digital Cons – I have to wait more than a year to see the end result, it’s easy to fall behind, it’s less tactile

    What are your thoughts? What was it about traditional that you didn’t like, that you feel digital provides the solution? Is there anything about traditional that you miss?
    Thanks a ton!

  10. #13

    What do you do with all of the little bits and pieces like tickets to concerts and dancing programs when you go fully digital. I have so many notes from my girls and physical stuff that I add to my PL album. Do you not collect/keep that sort of stuff?

  11. #14
    Anne Marie

    I downloaded the Day one app after reading aout it in an earlier post, and being a former journaler: I LOVE it!!! I can dot down as much or littles as I want whenever I want.

    I have decided to use digital (yours) project life layouts, but only the weeks when I have photos and stories to tell. Because I want to keep costs down (living overseas), I prefer soft cover books… I’ll have to visit Artifact Uprising and see what soft cover formats they have… and which f your templates is bes suited for that.

    Anyhow (rambling too much), Day One fan!

  12. #16
    Abby P.

    Good idea, Anne Marie! Kimberly, you can also purchase some of Becky Higgins’ PL pockets – she has them in different sizes. I’m all digital now, and ran into this same dilema.

  13. #17

    Hi Rhona – I am in Sydney and print my 12×12’s through Persnickety Prints in the US. It’s a US$10 shipping fee per order internationally and they usually take about two weeks to arrive. I just save up my layouts and get 50 or so pages printed at once. They are great.

  14. #18
    Ellen F.

    The only thing I would miss by doing digital PL is my handwriting. It’s not the best handwriting, but it really makes it personal to me. At what point did you decide to type everything? And why?

  15. #19

    Next year will be my fifth year doing Project Life. The first three years I used the physical kits, this year I was fully digital 12×12 (in a binder).

    Every year I have done two-page weekly spreads so next year I am chaging things up. I am going to use the smaller Sn@p album and page protectors and just do a few monthly pages hybrid (I have so many digital products). I don’t know if I will regret going back to home printing photos and cutting up paper for pockets but I am looking forward to the smaller size and being able to play a bit.

  16. #20

    Rhonda, I’m pretty sure that Photobox here in the UK do 12×12. I’ve used them about half a dozen times for 8×8 books and I’ve been impressed with both their quality and service. Hope this helps somewhat!

  17. #22

    I’ve toyed with doing PL for the first time in 2014 and I’m a fully converted digital scrapper so I thought my way around this would be to print my layouts (probably 8×8) and insert them into traditional type albums where I can include pockets too. Still not convinced my life (and I work full time in an office based job) is interesting enough week in, week out to warrant doing PL! The jury’s still out at the moment!

  18. #23

    Despite doing PL in a more hybrid way, I use many of the same folders and organisational ideas you mentioned, and yet still I picked up a few new tips! I use Lightroom to organise my photos and sort them into weekly folders for PL…I didn’t even think to set up smart folders (or smart collections in LR)! Brilliant! And I just checked my Outlook calendar and what do you know, the week numbers are already visible and I hadn’t even noticed! Again, great tips even for the non-digital Project Lifer!
    And funny, I laughed out loud…
    Thanks Cathy.

  19. #24

    I currently will toss stuff into those envelope pages from the PL collection. That said, I am not a collector of that stuff for scrapbooks. I keep stuff in bins or other storage. : )

  20. #25

    You know, Ellen, Ive typed my journaling more often than not since the beginning of scrapbooking time (2001 for me. ; ) I do have many a handwritten card in my PL albums. Because my handwriting wont change a whole lot now, I feel like Im not going to miss that. I dont think my kids will either, because they do have a solid representation of my handwriting from earlier projects and PL albums. Part of the reason I like to type it all out is that I write better when I type. Im not sure why this is, but my words flow so much easier when Im typing.

  21. #26

    That sounds fun. Gotta admit. But I plan to do traditional, hybrid and other projects for 2014 that will be slightly less digital.

  22. #28

    If its a double, I just let it roll, knowing that at some point, another single page will come up and then theyll line up again. : )

  23. #29

    Great tips and tricks Cathy! I have the week #’s automatically entered in Outlook, but they are on Sunday. Has anyone figured how to get them on Monday?

  24. #30
    Liz M.

    Cathy: what do you think about the overlay that makes it look like the pictures are in a plastic page protector? Do you think it looks realistic?

  25. #31

    Well, I guess I just wanted something simpler. I was getting tired of all that printing (I printed my pics at home) and trimming. It felt like so much more of a production. All I really wanted was to combine my photos with words. So it was really just about simplification. Thats it. For me, its not necessarily about the tactile. I still will make layouts like I used to. I was starting to get a little… I guess bored with the process too. So i just wanted to mix it up and go digital. Right now, doing the December Daily project gives me more of that hybrid process that I also love, so I dont miss it as much, if that makes sense.

    Bottom line: I wanted to try something new and something that was simple for me. : )

  26. #32

    Hmmm. I guess I have seen those and I think they look okay, but my whole deal is this: I dont want to pretend that Im in a plastic page protector. Im not! Its digital. It can be more of a flat design, so to speak, and thats okay! Its cleaner. This year, thats part of why Im going more minimal. No more subtle drop shadows for 2014. Just images + words. : )

  27. #34

    Ummmm, how long have I been using a Mac and not known about smart albums?! Thank you! I was looking at your Life Basics Minimal templates on DD. The description says thin outlines. (I know you’re giving up the drop shadows…very iOS7 of you. Actually you have been Clean and Simple way longer than Apple!) Have you done a page using these templates that we could see? Also, can the digital 3×4 PL cards that I already own fit in the small rectangles (are they the same aspect ratio or close)? Thanks for all you do for us! I always LOVE your videos!

  28. #35
    Dawn Gross

    Thank you! I want to go digital in 2014 and have no clue on how to do it. I use many of these ideas for computer picture storage now. Looking forward to your template tutorial! Looking forward to a simpler method.


  29. #36

    If you change the “First day of week” in System Preferences (under Language & Region), the week numbers will appear on whichever day you choose. Have to close & reopen iCal though. You can also change the ‘start week on’ in iCal preferences and it will display Mon-Sun instead of Sun-Sat.

  30. #38

    That made me laugh too! I had to tell myself that waaayyy back when I was still traditional scrapbooking – my family will not formally disown me or the universe will not implode if the zoo trip in 2005 doesn’t get added to the album.

    I make calendars with Shutterfly every year filled with family pictures from the past year for us & husband’s side of family – I don’t use a ton of pictures, but even that is such a good overview of what happened that year and would give anyone a good snapshot/quick glance of the memories of that year. So if a quick, fun calendar does the memory keeping job pretty well, surely so does a more a little more in depth PL album, even if days or weeks are missing here and there.

  31. #39

    Suzette, in the video, towards the end, I show the page. : ) I printed one out for a test and was really happy with it. And yes, the aspect ratio is almost a perfect fit for any 3 x 4 PL cards you already have. I tested that one out too. However, the rounded corners on Beckys cards do have to be accounted for, so you lose a little bit from that. : )

  32. #40
    Joanne C.

    Hey Cathy! Great tips on getting set up for digital project life for next year!

    It was because of you that I found Day one app about a year and a half ago for both iPhone and iMac. I would like to share a tip that has help me during my weekly layouts of this year. I tag my daily entries in Day one (I do sometimes several entries a day for whatever week I’m working on),so that way when I actually recap my week I actually only look for that tag and it shows me those tagged entries instead of me remembering what was the actual day in the calendar. Hope it helps!

  33. #41
    Joanne C.

    Sorry what I meant to say in the comment above is that I tag each comment as Week X and when I’m recapping, I go to the tags feature on Day one and look for the week I’m recapping instead of going thru the days on the calendar.
    I have found that this is so much easier because you can even export a PDF of a specific tag entry in case you don’t have the iMac Day one app version. By exporting as PDF, You could copy and paste your entries into Photoshop as your journaling. 🙂

  34. #42
    Julie Finch

    Man I love you. spot on and right when I needed to hear it. I am going to attempt the digital as well. As much as I love paper, I think this will just work better and I might get more accomplished!

  35. #43
    mary e.

    This is the year I get my photos in order. There. I said it.

    God help me.

    I am really, REALLY, grateful for the workflow info, Cathy. I’ve done more research on workflow than I can possibly reiterate.

    I’m tossing the high intensity, gotta-do-it-just-ONE-step-better mentality, and just gettin it done.

    I’m goin’ all digital, but would welcome anyone’s thoughts on how to manage the pre-digital photo phase. I have MULTIPLE large plastic bins of pre-digital camera photos. And some of those photos are the ones I treasure dearly.

    Any suggestions? Ideas? Insights into what’s worked?

    Thanks, Cathy, for sharing your IP. I’ve said it before, but you need to charge for this data mine!


  36. #44

    Mary, that is a tricky one. Having those bins. One thing you could try to do is just separate them into years and months. Do they have dates? If so, then get them in order and just buy some really lovely PHOTO ALBUMS! Do NOT worry about scrapbooking those photos unless a few stand out. Then set those aside and make a page. Otherwise, just try to get them into some kind of loose order. Even just years. You dont have to worry about months. Then, photo albums. I tell ya, photo albums are a God send. Truly.

  37. #45
    Britiney @ Consider the Lilies

    WAIT wait wait wait wait WAIT! I’m on minute 7 of the video and my world is spinning! Smart Folders??????? WHAAAAAAT??????? Sooooooo, when you tell iPhoto that a folder includes the dates, does it automatically populate the folders with pictures from those dates or do you drag and drop the pictures from the events or photos screens? Because if it automatically populates them, I might die from the amazingness of that. AND I might just drive to your house and kiss you on the lips! (not really, but kind of) (maybe) On the other hand, if it doesn’t automatically populate, doesn’t that create more work? *running off to create smart folders*

  38. #47

    Found it…11 minutes in. Gorgeous! I am going to DD to get the set right now. Thank you, thank you!

  39. #48

    Yep, another smart folder virgin here (and I’m running out of virgin things to be!). Organized 15 years yesterday in about 45 minutes! Gotta love digital and gotta love Cathy!

  40. #49
    Wendy T.

    Great video, thanks Cathy! Now comes the part where I whine (just for a bit). I was an all-digi scrapper for years and loved it. I could recolor, re-size, change my mind, etc. Then I decided to do PL. I started doing it digi and after a few weeks, it just didn’t feel “right”. It looked so flat. So I decided to do it hybrid (like you did before week 18 this year). You still have control, but you get to play with and touch the paper. That lasted about 6 weeks. The following year I tried again. That lasted, again, about 6 weeks. I decided to switch to the Snap albums along with a monthly format mid-year thinking smaller is more manageable. That lasted about 3 weeks. In other words, something isn’t working for me. I think in the back of my mind, I know that the best way for me to actually getter done is to do it digitally. After all, that’s what I know. And I will say, seeing your new template, with all that gorgeous white space, kind of turns me on. It just looks like a grid design (which I have always loved) versus trying to look like PL but not quite pulling it off. I think that’s what I haven’t loved about digital PL in the past. I love the thin gray stroke you have around your white journal cards, too. Maybe that’s the way to go for 2014. Maybe next year will be the first year (out of 3) that I will actually make more than 6-9 spreads. Thanks for helping me gain some clarity.

    Also, in your digi process, do you save the weekly psd file? In case of mess-ups? And as to your dilemma about whether to keep the working files from this year, I say keep only the psd file. You can generate anything you need from that (another jpg file to print, jpgs of individual pics in the file, heck, even jpg files if you decide to make a digital book!).

  41. #50

    Love the set up, I use smart holders in Lightroom, but the date thing was always so daunting (and mathy) so now I should be able to do it quickly. I folioed the iCal tip, but it says next week is week 1 – does anyone else have that issue or am I iCal incompetent?

    I am loving those new templates, they are exactly what I was looking for – clean, crisp and magazine-like. I now have Day One all set up and I’m stoked to begin.

  42. #51

    So many great tips. Cathy, I absolutely love your style. And I’m going to try a little bit of digital project life next year.
    But I was always wondering one thing: it seems that you have a white background on your digital layouts. How do you deal with white cards on that? Do you add a little border, or do you leave it to blend?


  43. #58

    Ah, good question. This past year, I have a slight drop shadow on my cards, and that helps to delineate the card. This year, that is what the thin outline on the cards is for. It can be turned on or off depending on the need. : )

  44. #62

    I have to say that I haven’t ‘scrapbooked” for years but I started PL this year and it’s the one SB project I’ve kept up for the WHOLE TIME. Yes I got behind a few weeks a couple of times but I had the photo’s organized and just caught up at the next chance I had.
    I’ve done digi from the get go, so easy! I’ll be doing digi again for 2014 too!

  45. #63

    Ok I so want to go digital. I’m just not sure I can. I think I have to start slowly and reduce my physical supplies of stuff! I love the idea of doing the pages and then printing a book. This gives me something to think about over the holidays. Plus my husband would be happier if I went to digital because it would reduce the “crap” in the house. 🙁

  46. #64

    You could also turn your handwriting into a font!!!! There are several sites that can do that for you and then you would have the best of both worlds. I like my own handwriting….

  47. #67

    And the best part is, you dont have to give up paper altogether, right? I love doing my December Daily project as a hybrid album. : )

  48. #69

    In Outlook (I’m using Outlook 2013) select the File tab then Options, then select Calendar…there you will find an option to select the first day of the week, change this to Monday. I hope that is what you mean?

  49. #70
    Dawn Ficklin

    So even though you have gone digital, you are printing everything out in either 3×4 or 4×6 and slipping them into the Project Life protector sheets am I right? I made up a 12 x 12 template that is set up the same and now I have 2 years of pages that need to be printed that will cost an arm and a leg (probably go through Shutterfly). I think you have convinced me to do what you are doing. Print out the pieces and put them in the slots. Am I right! Is that what you are actually doing? I need to follow your blog more. Thanks for sharing with all of us novices out here.

  50. #72

    Dawn, no. Im just making fully digital pages, and printing the whole digital page. No more pocket page protectors. : ) I was doing that in 2012. Does this help to explain ?

  51. #73

    I started project life this year and I should be done next week. That’s if I hibernate all week!!! Anyways I have kept up with my printing of my 12×12 albums throughout the year. Now I don’t have a binder to put the pages into. I’m not a fan of 3 ring binders I prefer the old school creative Memories strap hinge type but can’t find those anywhere. Anyone have any advice??

  52. #75

    Thank you, Cathy, for getting me into scrapping. I love it. I came across your book online back in 2007-ish, when my youngest was still a baby. Both ‘Clean & Simple’ & the sequel were read; post-it notes still tag many of the pages, with thoughts & ideas of all the pages I was going to create. I didn’t actually start putting anything together until many years later. I procrastinated forever … then I found your blog … then Project Life … & then designer digitals … your templates (PL & 11.5 & 12x12s!) . .. & so it went on. A joyous, inspirational series of discoveries. I managed six months of hybrid PL in 2012, with the firm belief I would finish it (haven’t yet) BUT, I’ve managed to keep pretty much up to date in 2013. I’m 3 weeks behind as I type. I went over to fully digital with you earlier this year, & haven’t looked back. It is so much simpler & time-effective. I love including my boys’ artwork & crafts – I simply take photos on my iPhone & use them. I am so into PL & trying to make the pages from the past (very slowly) that my husband bought me an iMac for my birthday! iMazing! I print my 12×12 pages every couple of months.
    Thank you for all your inspiration …

  53. #76

    I’m hoping to get organised for 2014, too. I’ve managed the week numbers in ical, just bought the day one app on my iPhone. I need help with the folder/albums in iPhoto, please …
    from the file menu, do you create a:
    -new album, or
    -new folder, or a
    -new smart album?
    I’m not clear what the differences are. I have been using the albums to group together photos of a particular topic, e.g. y garden, boys’ karate pics, etc – should I be using tags for that type of thing?
    I’ve been putting all photos for a month in an ‘event’ and labelling it ‘month/date’ … it seems that’s not the best way, maybe … any help welcomed …
    PS I’m new (as in tonight’s the first time) to posting comments, etc!

  54. #77

    Well, I make Folders to hold Smart Albums. So, Folder for Project Life, but smart albums inside that folder.

    I dont tag stuff yet, but I really WANT to start tagging. Because then it would be super easy to gather photos for, eg, gardening. : ) I would recommend tagging. Im going to start in January on all new imports!

  55. #79
    Jenny B.

    Thank you for this post and the video, Cathy! I am seriously thinking about switching to Mac (been doing all digital for a long time, but on a PC), and this was immeasurably helpful. I have a whole file system hierarchy set up in Windows Explorer, and I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to accomplish the same thing (folders within folders, organized by date) on a Mac, but you have shown me that I can! Yay! 🙂

  56. #82

    Cathy you can also enable week numbers in google calendar for anyone who uses that, and it also gives you days of the year if you’re doing P365! Just a little tip 🙂 You go to other calendars -> Interesting calendars -> More -> Week numbers -> Subscribe.

  57. #83
    Jamie R.

    Sometimes I just print a large 12X12 photo on the opposite page. And sometimes it’s even a photo from a recent week, but not necessarily the week it’s labeled as.

  58. #84

    Cathy, what font did you say you were using and where did you find it. I am not being able to find what I think you are saying. Thanks.

  59. #86

    Thank you SO much for posting this. I had to stop the video numerous times to go poke around in iCal and iPhoto, both of which I’ve been using for over a year but had no idea how to make them more personalized. I also bought the Day One app for my Mac. I’ve used it on my phone since 2012 — had no idea I could have it both places. I really need to get out more. Ha ha!

    I did traditional PL last year but used my 2012 photos. This year I’m doing 2013 photos in paper and 2014 digitally. I want the best of both worlds — to get caught up and be current. I will definitely be back here because you (and your followers) are genious!!!

  60. #88
    Sarah PM

    Hi Cathy – I love your new PL templates. Here’s a quick question about rotating or flipping them… I’d like to be able to flip the pages with the text boxes horizontally or vertically, so I can switch things around for one- or two-page spreads. However, when I flip the pages, the text box ends up a mirror-image of itself. For example, your “A” layout works best for the digital journaling cards I have, but I’d like to be able to have the journaling box on the upper left as opposed to the upper right. How do I fix the text when I flip the template?

  61. #90

    Try this little trick. Open a new doc of any size, drag the text box out of my template and into that doc. Come back to the templates, flip it, then go back, drag that text box back in and adjust. : )

  62. #91

    Hi Cathy,
    Thanks for sharing. You’re awesome. I have been doing PL since it came out in 2010 and I am considering going all digital for 2014 as well mainly because when I look 10+ years down the road I just don’t see these 3-ring 12×12 binders with page protectors as the best method of safekeeping my family memories. A clean well printed digital book makes more sense to me.

    I do take most of my photos with my iPhone but I also use my Nikon DSLRs. I import those photos using View NX Nikon’s software which downloads them into monthly folders I created on my iMac (Year / Month folders) that I then sort thru in bridge, select the ones that pertain to the week I am working on and then drag them from the main folder into the weekly folder in bridge but after watching your video and learning about smart folders…well that’s just SMART!

    So I like the idea of iPhoto sorting my photos by weeks for me but my questions are:

    A: do you import all your photos from your iPhone and your SLR straight into iPhoto ONLY? Or do you also have regular folders in your main Picture folder set up by year/month etc

    B: Once you know which pictures you want to use on your layout, how do you access them from iPhoto to work on in photoshop? Do you have to export the ones you want to use and if so where do you export them too?

    Thanks so much for your help!

  63. #92

    Hey Natalie,

    A. I only import into iPhoto. Its the only organizer I use. But, within that program, I set up Years and Months, the months as smart folders defined by calendar dates. B. I pull them out of iPhoto, put them on my desktop, open them, edit them and do whatever project Im going to do with them. Then Ill save the images in the job folder for each layout or project. Now, I know you can just open to edit in Photoshop right IN iPhoto, and save and that version of the photo will save in iPhoto. I dont know why I dont just do that. That maybe I could have a master scrapbooking folder in iPhoto, and every project would be in a subfolder, with the photos all edited in there.

    Its not the cleanest system, but it works for me. : )

  64. #93

    Hi Cathy,
    So glad I came across your video now at the start of the year because it made me rethink my whole process and when I took a closer look at my system for PL I realized I was spending WAY too much time organizing and sorting my photos between the iPhone 5 photos which were in iPhoto, and the SLR photos which were on my hard drive and then trying to figure out which photos belonged to which week – ACK!!

    iPhoto Smart folders is a HUGE time saver. I googled and found how to edit iPhotos in photoshop. In case anyone wants to know.. you can go to Preferences / Advanced / Edit Photos and select your Photoshop program. Then when you open a photo in iPhoto and click Edit in bottom right corner it automatically pulls it up in Photoshop!

    But I still think having the digital layouts saved on the hard drive in designated folders makes me feel more comfortable that having all my project life folders in iPhoto…no idea why!

    So I plan to edit the picture for the basics like brightness red eye etc and click CMND + S to save it – doing so will save the edited version on top of the original in iPhoto in case I ever just want to print photos – and then I’ll make further edits like adding text and using it on my digital layouts and click SHIFT + CMD + S to “save as” and save it in a different file in a designated folder for that PL week in my drop box. This way it is backed up to my TIME MACHINE external hard drive as well as backed up in the cloud (ie drop box)

    Is time machine and drop box enough back up? Or would you suggest a separate external hard drive as well? to back up the back ups !

  65. #95

    I can’t believe that I’ve only just found you Cathy! A friend of mine shared you on facebook (I’ll kiss her later!)

    I’ve been stalking your blog all day!

    Yesterday I was digging around for information on how to put an overlay over a picture in Photoshop (it was seriously doing my head in) as I want to start PL and I’m looking for ways to make my pages look nice without the use of chunky embellishments. Up pops your step by step from 2009 on creating frame and text overlays. Eeeemmerrrgod! You are a saviour. Not only did I learn to make my own but it made it easier to understand the process of placing a ready-made overlay on a picture too. Success! Needless to say, I’ve been playing with them all day. I think you were meant to be. (singing to Rick Astley) Never gonna give you up….never gonna let you down…

  66. #98

    Hi, Thanks so much for this video it answered a lot of my questions about digital project life. I’m about to have my first baby and want to get this all started and prepped so I can document his life! I was wondering, do you have to use photoshop to work with all the templates? Is there another program that I could use? Or would you definitely recommend photoshop? I just don’t know if I want to spend the money on buying photoshop and trying to learn it if its going to be hard to use, if there’s something else that will work too. Thanks!

  67. #99

    Photoshop and Photoshop Elements (the more inexpensive version, which is all you need!) are the two programs they are designed for. : )

    PSE runs about $80 and there are many resources for beginners to learn about classes.

  68. #101

    What a great video. You made sense of something that was bothering me. Organize and just get it done. Thanks for sharing!!!Do you have a youtube?

    1. #101.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Thanks, Yar!

      I do have a YouTube but rarely post to it. I like the Vimeo community because it’s more closely monitored. I may eventually start dual posting, but probably not. 🙂 Everything I have is on my Vimeo channel.

  69. #102

    Thanks for this post! I’ve tried getting into scrapbooking as the designs can be so fun, but as a designer and photographer, I find I don’t want to put too much creative time into scrapbooking. Not that it isn’t fun and I like to do a little – I just find I put it off if I’m trying to make ART out of memories. I thought of doing physical Project Life, but I think even that would take time trying to be too arty and I don’t much like the plastic pocket look. Also, as a photographer, I want my layouts to be more photo – centered. So, I think that a pretty clean grid for photos with the possibility of throwing in a few fun elements and then sending off for photo books is the way to go. I was just looking at some of your templates recently, so it’s great that I found your posts.

      1. #102.1.1

        Just a little follow-up. I’ve started 3 journals with your layouts. Mostly the 12×12 series and the Life Basics series. One journal is the standard Project Life for my family. One is a monthly PL of my art / studio life (I’m loving this!) I’m also working on a book of a beloved dog who recently passed. One request. Please, oh please consider releasing InDesign versions of your templates. I’m probably going to convert all the templates to InDesign. Thanks for the great templates.

        1. #
          Cathy Zielske

          Some day I may release ID templates. 🙂 I know it would be easy for me to work with for sure!

  70. #103
    Lauren H

    OH.EM.GEE!!! I know this is an old post but I just had to leave a comment. I am a techie (with an expertise in digital productivity, nonetheless) but I just could not seem to find a streamlined method for implementing Digital Project Life.

    I much prefer to organize my photos FIRST…AND on my PC. And, I find the app to be a little difficult to work with (screen real estate and oh, I don’t know, just lacking flow for me). But, then I procrastinated on determining weeks for photos and I didn’t want to create a new copy of photos just for DPL.

    So, researching for the millionth time, I stumbled across your post and I’m so excited. In Windows, you can create saved searches within File Explorer, which essentially does the same thing as Smart Folders. I just tested it out and I can access photos in those folders from PSE. Plus, I have already thought of other ways to use Saved Searches for the photo management process.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!! You made my day!

  71. #104
    Janet Welch

    Thanks so much Cathy,
    I’m just starting out and very comfortable with the concepts your shared. i already use day one, adobe, etc. My struggle is how I organize the cards, templates, etc. that I’ve purchased. Do you have a filing method that is visual to quickly go through what you’ve currently got on hand? I saw one example of bringing everything into Evernote and tagging – but I am wondering if there are other options. I’m a visual person so might even print things for a reference. That does make the portability of my projects a bit problematic. Thanks for any help.

    1. #104.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Hey Janet! That is the one thing I do NOT have a great system on. Honestly. I literally have folders set up like this: Templates, Patterned Papers, Cardstock… but I do not organize cards in any way. Long term goals!!!

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