Project Life, Week Four + a Real Time Process Video

Cathy ZielskeProject Life, Tutorials53 Comments

Last week I posted a time-lapse video to see whether or not I could actually finish a Project Life spread in 30 minutes or less. It was a fun challenge to see if my perception of how much time I actually spent each week was accurate (more or less, it was) but it also brought up a lot of questions as to how and why I work the way I do.

So this week, I recorded the process in real time and for those of you who are so inclined, I present the video here.

Digital Project Life in Real Time from Cathy Zielske on Vimeo.

The video itself is 45 minutes. I think if I weren’t talking and trying to explain things (and be occasionally witty) it would have been shorter. But it definitely walks you through the way I put these pages together with the overarching theme being: don’t overthink it.

Project Life is a simple document of our human experience. It’s not brain surgery. We are not curing a major illness. We do not have just this one chance to get the pages right.

We are simply saving photos and stories and overthinking the process can potentially kill the joy of it.

Who wants to kill the joy?

I say, “Hard pass!”

Here are my pages that you’ll see in the video, minus the journaling process, which I didn’t record because, you know, typing. I mean, how riveting is typing?



I took some pretty crappy iPhone shots this week and included pretty much all of them. Grainy, poor lighting, you name it. And yet, they make me happy.


I kept my notes all week using the Day One app, so journaling was a cinch.

This was my favorite card/image combo of the week:


Any parent who uses Find My Friends might be able to relate. I share more of the story in the video, but I’ll say it again: as long as I pay for that fancy phone you’re using, the app stays on!

One thing I really want to communicate, especially to those of you who get all stressed out by the idea of doing this project, or for those of you who are not enjoying it is that you can find a way to simplify. Truly. You can.

For me, this process is so much more streamlined now. I still am getting my paper fix by focusing on making a few traditional/hybrid layouts here and there, but this project is on a roll.

Project Life is a fantastic way to document life. Don’t overthink it.



Project Lifeβ„’ is a system created by Becky Higgins. To learn more about this approach to saving your memories,Β click here.

Cathy ZielskeProject Life, Week Four + a Real Time Process Video

53 Comments on “Project Life, Week Four + a Real Time Process Video”

  1. #1

    Hi Cathy, loved the video! I was wondering if you are planning to use template A for every week the whole year through or will you be mixing it with some of the other designs? In my experience template A is also the one which works best for me but I am trying to mix it up.

  2. #2

    I’d like to see Cathy’s reply on this also. I am doing it digital this year and one reason was so I could switch it up a little and use different templates. So far… Design A all the way! Ha!

  3. #3

    Mireille, I may mix it up. And yeah, I probably will at some point. It kind of depends on the images and such. But mostly I’ll use A.

  4. #4

    So, does Cole appreciate school being cancelled due to “cole weather?” How awesome is it to have a weather pattern named after you??? LOL (check your weekly recap card)

  5. #6

    I wonder if it’s a typo or a Freudian slip that you typed “cole weather.” Does Cole like the cold? πŸ˜‰

    Seriously, though… I am loving your digital templates!! I’ve used mostly Design A as well, and the square one twice now — works really well for phone pics. I have tweaked them a couple times to adapt to my photos, and that takes longer, but allows for more creative freedom in how I do my layouts. And that big, white border is … *sigh*

  6. #7

    I’m not a digital scrapbooker, I do more of the hybrid thing…is that what it’s called? Kind of like what you have done in the past. I have PSE and use some digital elements in my albums. I’m really liking this though! I’ve said I would never be a digital scrapbooker…never say never…right?!?!? So at the end of the year are you able to print this then? I don’t know how that works. Can you please explain that more. Seems like a dumb question but I’m not sure!
    Thank you Cathy for all of the video tutorials you do. I have learn so much!

  7. #8

    Thanks for your continuing efforts to help us newbies navigate digital PL and Photoshop, loved it!!! After watching it I have a few questions. Is IPhoto only for Macs or can you get it for PCs too? Also I was wondering did/how you get Rad photo in your PSE for filtering photos? I just checked mine and see it’s not listed, so assume you have to purchase or download, and if so how do you get it into PSE? I also didn’t quite understand what you were clicking on after you picked your photos before dropping them into the templates? And I just loved how you have your computer screen set up with your icons at the bottom looking like they are on top of a shelf or dresser! Is that something exclusive to Macs or did you do something to create it??? I am discovering how tech inept I really am from reading your blog!!! There’s a whole world I am discovering thanks to you!!!

  8. #10

    Best 45 minutes of my day(or should I say week?)thus far! Loved every minute of this — I MUST remember “don’t overthink it”! Thank you Cathy! (wow ‘Totally Rad’ looks so awesome!)

  9. #13

    Totally Rad IS awesome. It has changed the way I work with my photos. I like taking pictures, but I dont necessarily want to know all the steps to make them look a little better.

  10. #14

    I agree hard pass! Love seeing your process. I need to get consistent with one journaling app instead of 20, may have to revisit day one. Lol on find my friends. I’ve had this same convo with my in-laws many a time, they just don’t understand why I don’t want them to see my every move. (Btw I’m 31 and they certainly don’t pay for our phones) But in 10 years when my daughter gets a phone I’ll be istalking her with the latest technology for sure! Haha

  11. #15

    iPhoto is a mac only program. : )

    RadLab is something you purchase and download and they have instructions for loading into your version of Photoshop. : )

    I was clicking on the target layer, or the layer into which I wanted to clip the photos. And yes, the shelf at the bottom is a Mac thing. I kind of love that thing too!

  12. #16

    Juli, yes! I could print each page as a 12 x 12 print and put them into page protectors and into an albu. Or, I could upload the digital files to a photo printer and have a books made. : ) That is what I am going to try for this year. Im not sure where I will be printing just yet. Going to do a bit more research on that. Does that help?

  13. #18
    kate titcombe-hollis

    Cathy, I have to agree. Don’t overthink it. On the weekend I pulled my 2011 Project LIfe album out, just to have a look at. It’s a long time since I flicked through it. Honestly, I was totally engrossed in the stories and memories and didn’t even really look at or think about the cards, colours or general layout design elements I used. It was ALL about the memories.

  14. #19
    Margot Perry

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! You answered so many questions today with this video! I initially switched to PL to simplify the whole process, but managed to make things more complicated for myself. πŸ™‚

  15. #21

    Thank you so much for the real time video! I’m semi tech savvy but still learned SO much. Also your vibe is very soothing. I may be crazy but I could watch you do this every week. Maybe there needs to be the Cathy Zielske reality show!

  16. #22
    Britiney @ Consider the Lilies

    THIS WAS SO AWESOME!! Sorry for yelling. Not only did this help me see your process but it talked me off the “photoshop is too hard for you” ledge. I know you’re an expert but you make it seem possible. Thanks for tolerating your fans and providing the details for us. I was surprised to see you only have one entry on Day One for each day. I’ve been wondering how I was going to incorporate that stuff in since I tend to ramble. ha! Seriously, thanks, Cathy. This was immensely helpful! *genuflect*

  17. #24

    I love this Cathy! I’m just starting out with the digital process and I’m soaking up as much as I can. Can’t thank you enough for taking the time to show how you complete the process.
    Now I’m off to look up Totally Rad!

  18. #25

    Thanks for sharing. Wondering if you plan to leave all of your backgrounds plain? No papers dropped in, just colors? Hope this question makes sense.

  19. #29

    I truly believe there are only a few processes to learn to work in PS for scrapbooking. One is to connect to the idea that everything is on its own layer, and sometimes, we copy things in and cant see them because somehow they got pasted in behind other layers. Other than that, its a cake walk once you get the hang of it.

  20. #30

    Hey Cathy, just want to say thanks for sharing your knowledge with all of us. I know my way around Photoshop, been using it for years, but I just like to watch how you process through all of this. And I love using your new templates and use mostly your journal cards, I just like that look, so thanks for designing such great stuff! And as someone might have said, I could listen to you all day myself.

  21. #31

    Thanks for the reply Cathy! I look forward to hearing/seeing what you will be doing with this when completed.

  22. #34

    Thanks for the video, Cathy. I enjoyed watching your process in PSE. I do have a question though…when you were talking about your color palette you pointed to the bottom right portion of PSE. What is that section?

  23. #36

    Your PS videos helped me more than anything else I studied! I had no background in using PSE, but it wasn’t hard to follow along with the way you do things. πŸ™‚

  24. #37

    Awesome! Thank you. The time lapse was very cool too. I had to remind myself a few times that you’re fast but not quite that fast! I was interested to see how you manage your photo folders and use iPhoto at the beginning. I am still trying to make my Mac and iPhoto work for me, so it’s good to see how different people use it. Also, you are always fun to listen to, even when you are searching for a file. And I just caught up with your egg blowing video – hilarious! πŸ™‚

  25. #38

    Thanks for the great video! I’m not doing digital Project Life but I do use Photoshop (novice) and I always learn a few tricks watching your videos. I’m totally going to check into Rad Lab – pretty sure I need to get that!

  26. #42

    Cathy, you inspired me to make my first digital PL layout last night. It was grueling as most things are the first time you try them, but I am so proud of my little page!

    Thanks for everything!

  27. #44
    Brenda D

    Cathy, what program are you using for your daily notes/journaling that you are pulling from for each layout? Thanks for doing these videos. Still learning PS and you make it look so easy.

  28. #46

    Cathy, you rock. Plain and simple. I could listen to you talk for hours. So yes I watched the whole video!

    Quick question – at the start you weren’t sure you had enough photos for a 2 page spread. If that had remained the case, what would you have done with a 1 page spread when printing the book ultimately at the end of the year? I would love the freedom of not having to do 2-page spreads each week for those weeks that just don’t seem to have enough photos but then what would I do on the other side of the 2 page spread in my photobook?

  29. #47
    Jennifer P

    Are those Young Living oils I spy? Sweet! I’ve been oily for about 18 months and I looooove them! So much awesomeness in those little bottles.

  30. #48

    Hi Natalie!

    I would have done one page. Then seen what Week 5 had in store. If Week 5 required two pages, then so be it. I would just keep working through the year, knowing that eventually, thered be another single page week. The great thing is, you dont need to stay committed to having 2 pages for each week. Youd just have some weeks that started on the right side. That is super okay to do! No one will ever look back and say, Weird. Mom didnt do equal spreads every week. Thats my approach. Hope that helps!

  31. #49

    Indeed. Im just trying some out to see what I think right now. Definitely love Lavender for sure. Use it in my office and in my bedroom. That, and the lemon and peppermint. : )

  32. #50
    Beth Madland

    Ok .. long-time reader .. first-time poster. I’ve watched and watched this video again. I may have to copy your style for a bit until I get my own. First I need to understand PSE etc better. Anyhow — is there any chance you could do these videos for the kind folks at — there isn’t a video section there and I think you have the talent and the humor to make these. Please oh please. I could make a list of videos needed. But there are definitely needed.

  33. #51

    Beth, I appreciate your feedback! : ) Im surprised they dont have videos. I bet they are working on them. In the mean time, dont hesitate to let me know the types of things youd like to see me cover! I feel like I really want to put together some kind of intro series together. Although I am far from the expert on PSE, I want to be able to offer something like this.

  34. #52


    Your digital project life speaks to my busy busy working mom heart. I am in the process of buying it right now, and think I can use it with some adjustments for WITL, Thirty Days of Thankful, and December Daily without loosing my mind! I was just wondering if you had thought about your project life for 2015? Are you staying digital, and if you are will you use the minimal pages or is there another group of templates you are thinking of designing. I am all ears, and if this three months is successful, I will be following along with you in 2015, and purchasing any new templates….. Thank you!!!!

    1. #52.1

      I am wondering the same thing as Angelica. I love your clean templates and am looking forward to seeing what you will be doing in 2015 for your Project Life pages. Thank you for sharing your creativity with us!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *