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Project Life Recap & 2016 Plans

I haven't completed a whole year of Project Life since my first attempt at it in 2013.

That first year I completed it digitally, mainly using various Becky Higgins core kits. I did weekly spreads, and, for the most part, stuck to the Design A template. At the end of the year I printed it as a 12x12 photo book through Blurb. I love that I completed that project. My son was only 8 months old at the beginning of that album, so I captured a lot of his 'big' moments throughout the year (as well as completing his own 12x12 baby book using the original Baby Boy edition of BH Project life). I was very detailed and included a lot of information in that album.

In 2014 I wanted to switch it up a bit and try a physical album, and also try a monthly approach. I ended up completing about half of the year. I was pregnant with our second son at the time, and between morning sickness and just general exhaustion, memory-keeping was just kind of pushed to the backburner. I just took a look through what I did complete the other night, and felt inspired to go back and finish up the months I didn't get done. They would have a lot less detail, but I figure something is better than nothing.

I also learned through that, that I don't really like the monthly approach. I think some people find it freeing to not have to be working on it weekly, and just sit down at the end of the month and hammer out a spread or two (or more!), but to me, it seems easier to do it in smaller chunks. I felt very overwhelmed trying to capture the whole month at once.

In 2015, I decided to give it a go digitally and weekly again, since that was my only route to success so far. I did great for a few months, then kind of fell off the wagon, again. Around that time, I had just bought an iPad mini, and downloaded that Project Life app. Wow, super easy to use. But still some downfalls for me - I like my pages a little more that just plain jane. I found a work around, in that I would create the basics of my pages in the app, save them, then open them in Photoshop to add in different text features, or different embellishments, etc. I liked that process and found it easy enough. The biggest downfall for the app for me was that I take the majority of my pictures with my DSLR. And it was a pain to go through them on my computer, pick out which ones I may want to use, then transfer them onto my iPad to use in the app. So I once again fell of the Project Life bandwagon - two times in one year!

Which now brings me to 2016. After not having completed albums for the past two years, I am itching to get my butt in gear and complete a full year. However, I am still not 100% decided on what shape my album will take. I have a few thoughts rattling around in my brain:
  • My practical brain is telling me to go digital once again. It saves the step of printing pictures (which I do externally, vs. printing at home, so it is a bit of a hassle), and I find it a little easier to fit time in 'here and there' to work on my pages on my laptop, vs. going up to my craft room and trying to hammer out a spread once the kids are in bed in the evening - when I am usually pretty spent and don't have a lot of motivation.
  • But my creative brain is telling me to try physical again. I do like actually playing with paper, and have gotten into paper/hybrid scrapping more in the past year. I also like getting my handwriting onto pages, and using some minimal embellishments, etc. One other big reason for wanting to go physical is that I subscribe to Ali Edwards' Story Kit, and would really like to start using some of the 4x6 and 3x4 cards included in it (which I don't typically use on actual layouts). I think part of the problem when I attempted physical in 2014 was that I was making it too complicated. I was trying to emulate other people's Project Life spreads, that I loved looking at, but aren't really my style. If I attempt physical again I am going to simplify by sticking with 4x6 photos in the 4x6 slots, and 3x4 journal cards in the 3x4 spots for the most part. I will definitely be adding in some 4x6 journal cards and some 3x4 photos, where appropriate, but I think keeping it simple is my best shot. Plus, I find I am liking that simple look more and more lately.
  • Either way I am going to stick with a 12x12 size, with mostly the Design A template. I find that layout pleasing to the eye, and like the ease of consistency. I may mix in other page sizes/setups if I have a week that I need to add an insert, but for the most part, it will be Design A spreads.
  • I will be documenting weekly once again. It's just easier for me to process the information in smaller chunks, than to do it all at once for a month. 
  • I have some other thoughts regarding separate albums for my sons. I would like my "Project Life" album to be a family one - focusing on all 4 of us, and whatever we get up to, either personally or as a family. But I would also like the boys to have their own albums, specific to them. Right now I am just deciding how much structure I want to add to these albums. Along with some form of pocket page documentation, I will be adding any 'regular' scrapbook pages about them specifically that I make. I am trying to figure out if I would like to do one monthly spread each for them, with a few favourite pictures from the month, and anything interesting they say/do, and some things they are currently into, or if I should not 'structure' anything and just add in my photos and cards as things happen over the year. I am thinking I may need the structure to keep me motivated... but still mulling that over.
Whew, a lot of information to digest. I think just typing it out has helped clear my brain a bit and come up with a game plan.

Right now I am leaning towards doing a physical album. The pull of using up those Ali Edwards cards is drawing me to that. My game plan is to at least attempt doing that for a month. If it is not working, and I am not getting things done, I will switch to digital. I really want to get this year documented, and will have to do it whatever way it will actually get done

Do you do Project Life or a similar 'yearly' documentation? What are your plans for this year?


  1. I think half the battle is figuring out a plan up front and you are being very thoughtful about what does and doesn't work for you. I had to do the same thing after completing PL weekly in 2012 and I realized that weekly doesn't work for me, so I did 2 week spreads, and then monthly spreads with as many pages as I needed.

    When I did 12x12, it was easiest for me the year I decided to do all Design A pages, and I printed all my horizontal photos 4x6, vertical ones 3x4 and Instagram square ones at 3x3 so they'd fit in any pocket. So I didn't have to plan which photo went where before I sat down to scrap.

    After I finish my December Daily (ish) album, I am going to tackle the 2nd half of 2015. I actually don't mind doing it "late" because it highlights what's important to me and worth telling, if I remember it months later :) I also have a handful of "in the moment" stories I wrote down on 3x4 cards as they were happening so I include those as I go.

    For 2016 I'm doing a 366 photo a day project instead and will put those in a simple 6x12 album(s) with some digital stamps from Ali Edwards and Cathy Zielske. I figure it'll help me practice both my photograph *and* my Photoshop skills and after 4 years, I'm kind of tired of doing PL with the cards in pockets.

    1. I like your point about printing all 4x6 and vertical photos as 3x4. I think I am going to use that 'rule' going forward as well. My goal here is to keep this project as simple as possible, since I have other scrapbooking and memory keeping I will be doing as well. :)

      I do like your point about about finishing your albums 'late' too. I think my goal is going to be catching up on my 2015 album as I am doing my 2016. If I'm keeping it as simple as I plan, I should be able to complete 2 spreads/week. :)

      Thanks so much for your comment, a lot of interesting points :) And good luck with your 366 photo a day project! It's always nice to switch it up.

  2. I just do PL as I have pictures or something to scrap or get recorded. That way, the pressure is off to do it daily or weekly or whatever. Works great for me! Best of luck to you and Happy New Year!

    1. A great approach! Sometimes we just get too caught up in the hype of it all, I suppose! I am going to go that route for my albums for my boys. Keep it nice and easy ;)

  3. I did PL in 2013 for the full year. I did it weekly from Jan-May then more monthly for the rest of the year. While I like having that project, I don't do PL anymore. I found I did not like the pull to record everything event-wise versus really just telling the stories that mattered to me most. Part of it is time commitment and part is I don't want tons of albums to store! After 12+ years of scrapping, I try not to set too many rules for myself and just do what feels good in the moment. It's what works for me. Best of luck with your 2016 project.