When you’re 4 months behind with Project Life scrapbooking

Cathy ZielskeScrapbooking39 Comments

When you're 4 months behind with Project Life, what do you do? First, don't freak out.

I'm four months behind in Project Life. I think it's going to be okay.
Hello. My name is Cathy Z. and I have not started a Project Life album for 2016.

[ Group, in loose unison: Hello Cathy. ]

I tell you this,  you warm, welcoming, understanding community of memory keepers, because it’s just a simple fact: I am a little behind the 8 ball on this one.

Here’s the deal: I have loved making Project Life albums. I’ve made traditional ones. I’ve made digital ones that I turned into books. It’s been such a cool way to boil down the insane number of images from my life into a manageable document. And so today, I’m a little behind. Honestly? I’m not too worried.

The only thing I’m presently worried about is my data, as my computer crashed last week and as I type this, I’m waiting for my Time Capsule to restore my content. There are only 29 hours and 18 minutes remaining. Gulp.*

But I’m not worried about the lack of Project Life progress because I know that if and when I decide to sit down (and my Photo Library is still intact!), I could bust out four months in an afternoon.

Part of why I’m not too worried is because the approach I’ve taken for the past two years is all about streamlining and simplifying. I’ve taken a monthly approach as opposed a weekly one. I’ve greatly reduced the number of products, digital or otherwise, that I use to create the pages.

But perhaps the biggest part of my system is connecting to this: I do not need to save it all.

I know what you might be thinking… well Cathy, that’s easy for you to say now that you’ve got one kid in college and one kid who’d rather be anywhere on Earth than on a scrapbook page. These things are true.

But another truth is this: I have never saved everything.

Back in 2002, when I first got into this hobby, I really did pick and choose the stories and the photos I wanted to save. I had this crazy idea that quality would trump quantity and as it turns out, I’m still okay with this philosophy all these years later.

I will say that if the Project Life format would have been around when my kids were little, I might have documented a bit more of that every day minutiae. Maybe. I will admit, there are details I can’t recall about the most mundane of days in my life as young mom with kids.

But looking back from where I’m at now, and looking at the stories I have chosen to save, and can honestly say: I’m good.

I think that I will. I have been wanting to create a class to show people how to let go of the “I have to save it all” approach and to find the freedom in choosing stories and photos to save in a way that you’ll still love but won’t feel nearly as stressed about.

I’m considering using my current status as the base for this class. How to start well into a year to build a document of record that reflects the life you live and does it in a simpler way… that’s what is floating around my head.

Now… as long as I actually end up having some photos to work with, I think this approach might just end up being a Go.

*After 39 hours, my Time Capsule successfully restored my entire hard drive. If you do not presently have a back up system in place, I strongly recommend it. And not just one. I have an offsite backup with a company called Crash Plan, too. I am extremely dependent on my technology and very grateful today to have my content back.


NOTE TO READERS: I’m going to be playing around with some design elements on my blog. Working to make elements more Pinterest friendly, among other things, mostly just on the featured images that appear on my main blog page. Any and all feedback is always welcome.


Cathy ZielskeWhen you’re 4 months behind with Project Life scrapbooking

39 Comments on “When you’re 4 months behind with Project Life scrapbooking”

  1. #1

    I’d be in for that class! I did all of 2015 over the Christmas period last year. I just sent 2014 off for printing. I’m working my way backwards. 🙂

  2. #2

    I’d be in for that class too. I still do my PL in the traditional way, but really want to do it digitally and make into a book. I just don’t know how to go about it. I still love playing with all the little bits and pieces but one can only have so many 12X12 albums before one wonders where they’re going to keep fitting in one’s house…

    And a side note… I’m not sure if enough content can make this into a class, but I plan to make a Messages To My Senior Girl book, just as you did for Aidan, and maybe others would too!

    1. #2.1

      Yes please (to the Senior’s class). I have a 15 year old and would love the motivation and structure of a class to get his book done.

  3. #3

    I am 100% with you. I only got into scrapbooking in the last couple of years (all with pocket scrapping), and I’m still mostly a week-by-week scrapper. But I almost always batch out the work every few months when I’m feeling inspired. And I totally agree that it should not be stressful or lead to “feeling behind.” 🙂 Just fun and crafty. Thanks for sharing!

  4. #4

    Oh Cathy, I’d definitely sign up for the PL catch up class. I decided to try this year with the app. Somewhere along the way, I decided weekly documentation was overkill for me. But, I never really regrouped…just stopped and am debating whether/how to pick up again!

  5. #7
    Annet m

    You wrote or shared something on fb a while ago about the pressure to document everything in reverse and that was very helpful in alleviating my ‘I can’t start because then I have to do ALL the years and I can’t face that so best to do none.’ So an approach of how to start with a backlog would be great without the pressure of you must!

  6. #8

    Four months…4 years, who’s counting? I’d love to know how you go about catching up! I’d also love to know how you select pictures for one month at a time without making it a postage stamp collage of every little thing.

  7. #9
    Kristi K.

    I would love it if you were to have a class for a “pick-and-choose” approach to scrapbooking Project Life. I have about three years of misc. everyday photos that I have been saving for just this purpose. Honestly, I only scrapbook at crops and have been doing vacation mini-albums. Kinda sick of that, and would love to tackle more “everyday” albums that I can complete in one sitting.

    Also, thanks for sharing your computer crash and recovery story. The comments about Time Capsule makes me feel much less stressed about using this app for backup.

  8. #10
    Kay Gregory-Clark

    I’m in for a class on catching up PL. I have 3 years’ worth of photos & memorabilia stashed, but can’t seem to get to it. I prefer the monthly approach, but I also like to include some of those “bits and pieces” of life—i.e. ticket stubs, menus, etc. And no, I don’t want to scan them. So any ideas about getting them into a mostly-digital album would be great. I don’t care to have it printed in a book. I also prefer 8 ½ x 11″ format. So….we’re anxious to see what you come up with.

  9. #11

    I would TOTALLY be in for that class!! I admit that I once was one of those “save it all” people. I remember sitting in front of a pile of photos that I didn’t really like, but felt that I “needed” to scrapbook them. UGG. Why did i do that??? The Project life format has saved me. For now, I do it on a weekly basis, BUT if I don’t have enough photos for a week – no problem. I just do a two week spread. Once that starts happening more and more, i know that I just need to change it up and go with a different plan. No stress.

  10. #12

    Please offer this class!! In my head, I want a nice system that shows our life. I do not want 52 albums. But when it comes down to actually paring down the pictures I can’t seem to find fewer than 100 pictures from this trip or 70 from this event. Suddenly there is too much and it all has less meaning. Help!

    1. #12.1
      Tammy B

      I do all my trips separately because I take a lot of pictures on vacations (up to 500 sometimes!). I look at it like I may never visit this place again so I want to document everything about it.

      You could include a few highlights from the trip in your PL album and then, when you’re feeling it, go back and make a PL album for just the trip.

    2. #12.2
      Jenny B.

      Teal, I also scrap trips separately. I do photo books. I’ve done them where I design each page in Photoshop and upload all the pages to make the book, and I’ve also done them where I use the photo book printer’s software and upload individual photos to add to their templates. I use Shutterfly, AdoramaPix, and Blurb. For me, the fastest books to build are the ones from Blurb. I keep the background white, add the photos to their layout templates, type in the journaling, and I’m done. I usually include a little bit of the trip in my Project Life album, but it’s one spread at most, and I only include my very favorite photos. It’s easy to choose only the best ones for the PL album because I know that all the rest are also in my trip book.

  11. #13

    I have one kid and mounds of scrapbooks and photo albums from her birth until she was about 10. Lately I’ve created a shutterfly yearly album in place of traditional scrapbooking. Still, what will she do with all of these albums someday? Her interest in memory keeping will likely not match my own. Something I think about regularly.

  12. #17

    Ironically I took Ali’s PL class earlier this year hoping to get inspired (which I was), except I haven’t made it through all the class content yet. I’m almost in the same boat with my 2016 PL as you are. I do the “paper” version and all I’ve done is choose/print January photos and slide them in pockets, as well as saving a teetering pile of ephemera. It’s something, anyway. I’m not really too stressed, but don’t want to let too much more time go by. I’m not good at taking 5-10 minutes each day to scribble something down, but if I did that, it would make the whole process so much easier. Need to find a way to do this.

  13. #18
    Lynn M

    I’m in for any class of yours Cathy. I’m only 2 months behind in 2016. I’ve got the photos for PL, just not the time to pull everything together. It’s so hard to “let go” of piles of ephemera from our lives. But it’s got to be done!! Where will I keep all of these albums? Something else will have to go, but then if I’m purging other things when will I have time for PL? It’s a vicious cycle. LOL!

  14. #19
    Maria H.

    I would soooo be interested in that class! At the ripe old age of almost 51 (give me 17 more days and I’m there) I am about to finish my Master’s degree. I’ve spent the majority of my days for the last three years working full time all day and then doing school work all evening. Memory keeping in any format has pretty much gone by the wayside so I’m in desperate need of catching up!

  15. #20

    <— Waving from across the room of people behind in their PL. I'm not quite 4 months behind, but I am failing miserably at keeping up now that I switched to the project life app for this year. My printer bit the dust as we were printing off our Christmas cards last Thanksgiving weekend and I have not decided on a new one yet (the research for a good photo printer is overwhelming!). So I went 100% – PL app – for this years book and was doing great til the end of Feb. Then I fell off the "documenting on my phone" wagon because I stopped spending so much time in front of my phone in the evenings. (I'm doing other creative things instead, like re-learning how to draw and learning to paint with watercolor!) I love being "unplugged" from technology and over all I start each day feeling better and not so drained now, but PL is suffering badly. I'm considering a monthly format now instead of weekly and just calling it good but I don't know where to even begin to make that switch from weekly. I'm looking forward to hearing more about your class idea because maybe then I could figure out how to get this caught up again! Oh, and I am so, so glad your hard drive was recovered. Been there, done that and learned my lesson on back-ups. Glad yours turned out for the better.

  16. #23
    Jo Blackford

    I just had to highlight this one thing that made me smile — “…and one kid who’d rather be anywhere on Earth than on a scrapbook page.”

  17. #24

    this is so timely as i sat working on my project life album last night, lamenting the fact that i’m working on SEPTEMBER 2014. i know the point isn’t to be caught up, but i also wish 2015 wasn’t looming over me once i finally finish 2014. i have so much physical product but i know i’d enjoy using the app more regularly too. one benefit from being “behind” — the longer i wait, the less i care about including as many pictures/momentos each month. i always have too much stuff accumulated and end up using much less when i actually put the pages together. i guess it helps simplify things! 😉

  18. #25
    Jenny B.

    Yes, please. I often find that when the Project Life creative vibe hits me, I get bogged down in sorting and editing photos, and then I’m spent without much to show for it. I do have a good system set up to organize my photos, but man, there are so many of them! I take fewer now than I did in the past, but still… I almost always have more that I want to use than will fit on a spread, and the thought of journaling about them just makes me want to take a nap. Anyway… I would love to see how you scrap so quickly while still managing to capture meaningful stories.

  19. #26

    Yep, I would take that class. I am even caught up with PL for 2016 and I like to do the old fashioned paper pocket method, but am totally open to changing things up and learning new thing.

  20. #32

    Yes! A class! My savior! In my case it would be a PL class when you have nothing to document at all, except misery in 2016. But could use that to make other PL books like my 20 y.o self falling deeply in love with this Italian stud who became the love of my live. How we lost each other for 20 years and found each other again after 20 years on FB. Both with other partners but with a first love for each other that runs very deep. So fun to see the photos he had of us being 20. He the dark handsome dude and me the long legged in mini skirts platina blond Dutch girl. Everywhere we went we turned heads. Another story worth documenting. Who cares if it’s 30 years ago? 🙂 Yes to the class CZ!

  21. #34

    So glad for your back-up! I guess that’s what back-ups are for! Happy you have your files back.

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