Aug 29, 2016


My tenure with the Becky Higgins Project Life Creative Team ended last December.  The last layouts that I submitted were done by early to mid November and then, it felt, I was off to a new phase of Project Life-ing.

Being a part of the Creative Team was my "dream aspiration" in 2014 - something that I really wanted and aspired to, but knew was largely out of my hands and didn't really expect to happen.  When it did happened, I was over the moon.  It felt pretty awesome to be recognized and to hit that goal that I didn't plan on hitting.

It was a great year and I am thankful that I had the opportunity.

Still, when I got to mid-November and realized that I no longer had an obligation to submit layouts monthly or use only official Project Life products, I felt a freedom that I hadn't felt in almost a year.  Since that point, I feel like I've really been rocking the Project Life show - keeping up with layouts and making pages that feel true to my own aesthetic.

Subscription Thoughts:

After taking a break for the year that I was on the Becky Higgins team, I resubscribed to the Studio Calico "Documenter Kit" last December.  Studio Calico just knocks it out of the ballpark almost every month.  Sure, there are a few things I receive each month that I know I will never use, but overall their aesthetic meshes well with my own.  I love getting a new set of cards and embellishments every month - it keeps things interesting and keeps me excited to work on my albums.

To note - I think it is important to stress that the Studio Calico subscription works for me because their style is similar to my own.  There are a lot of different paper and scrapbooking subscription programs available.  I've tried a few of them and browsed through the offerings of many more.  This is the only one that I've found, thus far, that really feels worth the cost - because I feel like I can expect to receive products - that I will use - month after month.  

Really, my only complaints about the Studio Calico subscription are that I never receive enough cards to stretch through a full month of layouts and I don't receive my kits until midway through each month.  In other words, I have no problems with their products, I just want more of it and faster.  I'm guessing that for many people the number of cards is adequate.  I just happen to prefer layouts where at least half of the pockets are filled with journaling cards and I do two-page weekly layouts (versus   single page or monthly layouts) which means that I go through a lot of cards in a given month.

On Getting It Done / Keeping Up:

In the first few months of 2016, I kept up with my layouts better than ever before.  My weeks end on Saturday and by Tuesday morning, I generally had the photos printed for the previous week and (often) the entire layout completed.

The best parts of keeping up?  Not spending time catching up on previous weeks and better journaling.  When I get behind, I waste a lot of energy trying to remember the details of earlier weeks and often forget the little stories that I want to include.  Keeping up is a lot easier than catching up.

I kept up right until Maggie's birth and purposefully finished the "first half of 2016" album in the last days before she was born.  She was born on May 10th - before the actual middle of the year - but it felt like a natural dividing point.  So our two albums for the year are now divided into "before Maggie" and "after Maggie" rather than January through June and July through December.

After she arrived, I didn't want to stress myself with a self-imposed need to keep up with our albums.  But, I also didn't want to get so far behind that I would never catch up.  Besides, our first weeks as a family of five seemed like special ones to make sure I documented.

So, I just did what I could.  I took photos.  I took notes in my planner of the stories I wanted to document and remember.  I printed and placed photos into the appropriate weeks, as I found time and energy.

When she was about 11 weeks old, I spent most of a morning working on the album and was able to complete the pages for the first nine weeks of our life as a family of five.  Since then, I've just been making a concerted effort to work on my album every week.  I'm not quite caught up, but I'm close and I think I'll be there sometime in the next month or so.

My Current Method / System:

To make things as efficient as possible, while still ending with a "pretty" result, I've developed a little system of sorts.

I use the Project Life App to size my photos - with a goal of about half (or, often a little less than half) of the pockets being filled with photos.  I print at home using this printer and usually just print between five and ten 4x6 photos per week.  When sorting photos, I usually look through any that I have posted to Instagram or processed through the PicTapGo App first.  Then, I fill in with any others from the week, as needed.

Depending on the number of photos I've already edited and how many require editing before printing, this process takes between ten and 20 minutes.

I look through my Studio Calico subscription envelopes from the previous few months, starting with the most recent and working backward.  I pull out any cards or embellishments that seem like they might work.  This usually fills about half of the remaining pocket spaces.

Then, I look through my stash of older Studio Calico cards and see what I can use to fill in the empty spaces.  I have these cards all lumped together in a single stack of 3x4 cards and a single stack of 4x6 cards.  After this phase, I usually have only two to five spaces left that need to be filled with journaling cards.

All of my other Project Life cards (from every source other than Studio Calico) are sorted by color.  So, I look at my page and think to myself, "hmm, something light pink would look nice in that spot," and then I pull my stack of light pink cards and find something to fill in the space.  And so on, until the layout is complete.

This process usually takes about 20 minutes.  And, I often stop at this point and wait until later in the day or the next day to fill in the cards with journaling.

To keep track of the things I want to journal in my PL album, I keep notes in my planner.  I sometimes journal more detail about the photos that I include in my pages, but more often just share whatever quotes and little moments from the week were most memorable or that I think I will want to remember in the future.

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And that is what I have to say about Project Life in 2016.  It's been a good year.  I've kept up, I am happy with the look of my layouts, I feel like I am capturing the stories that I want to capture and I like I having a system.

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