Hi guys! If you were expecting a Project Life spread today, I decided to end up and go ahead with the scheduling changes I discussed in this post. So from now on, all of my Project Life layouts will be shared in a single Project Life post that will go live on the last Friday of each month.
I’m doing this for a few reasons, but one main reason solidified my decision to go ahead with this change. I had started to notice that Project Life posts had sort of been taking over the blog, with a little less than 50% of posts I shared being layouts posts. Now, I love sharing my Project Life project with you all, but there is so much more that I want Label Me Merrit to be. With my Project Life layout posts all condensed into one monthly post, I am freed up to share more with you guys! I really think this is the best for the blog, and I hope you all agree!
One of the things I hope to bring a bit more into the blog now is more craft tips and tutorials posts. I thought I’d start with a Project Life post, sharing how I’ve managed to stay up to date with my album this entire year. So those of you who came to see a layout today still have a fun crafty post, that will hopefully help you with you Project Life!
I am pretty shocked that I have made it this far (almost halfway into the year!) while staying up to date. Especially since I was only able to complete 12 weeks total in 2014 last year. I did miss one week’s layout so far this year, but quickly made it up the next week to get back on track. I know many ladies have a very hard time with staying caught up on Project Life, so I thought I’d share a few things I credit with helping me stay up to date on my 2015 album!
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1. Make a Crafty Schedule
The single most important thing for me staying caught up on my Project Life album, is having a plan and a schedule for doing so. At the beginning of the year, I mapped out a schedule I needed to follow to keep myself from falling behind. I also started using a monthly calendar in my 2015 Project Life planner, so I could easily see what I needed to do and when. I also shared my schedule with you guys here on the blog, and committed to weekly posts sharing my completed spreads, to keep myself accountable. (Fingers crossed this new posting schedule won’t mess with that!)
It is also helpful to dedicate a certain time each week (Saturday afternoons for me) to creating your weekly layout. This will make working on your album part of your routine and regular weekly schedule. When you regularly carve out a time to work on Project Life, it will be so much easier to stay caught up on your memory keeping.
2. Develop Your Crafty Process
Another thing that has been super helpful in knocking out layouts when I’m short of time is having a go to process routine for my weekly spreads. Over the last year or two, since I began this Project Life journey, I’ve discovered how I like to craft. I’ve settled into a creative routine with my layouts, and know the tasks that need to be done and what order I usually like to complete them.
I’m planning on doing a whole post about my complete Project Life process, but simply put my process usually looks like this:
- Record all the pictures & videos taken that week in my Project Life planner, and write any stories or memories I want to include in my layout
- Narrow down which pictures will be included in my layout (I usually have room for about 7-10 pictures) and make any collages I plan to include
- Print out my pictures (see how I do that here), trim them down and decide on placement in my layout
- Select cards for my entire layout
- Make my weekly title card
- Add titles and labels to cards, attaching pictures to the cards as I go
- Add embellishments
- Write in any journaling or handwritten elements
Think about your process, and the path you generally take to finish a layout. Do you like to pick your cards out first and go from there, or do you pull out all the embellishments you have in a certain color scheme before you start? Do you write out stories and memories first, or save journaling for last? Knowing your creative process will help cut out time and frustration when you sit down to craft a layout, because you will know exactly which step you need to take next.
3. Use Repeating Elements in Your Layout
A favorite technique of mine to help complete a layout when I’m short on time, while still having it look great, is using repeating elements throughout a layout. The element can be anything, but my favorite go to’s are labels, card patterns, enamel dots and title letters.
For the layout in the graphic above, I cut out every card’s title in the same font with the same colored cardstock all at once using my Silhouette Cameo. It was quick, easy, and my layout still turned out awesome! It easily pulled together my whole layout, coordinating the cards without much effort. Using the same element over and over in your layout (whether it’s for titles, embellishments, or cards) significantly reduces decision making time, helping speed up the creative process to help you get your layouts done!
4. Trust Your Creative Gut
I have also been practicing just trusting my “creative gut” when creating layouts this year. This has been super helpful in reducin wobbling back and forth over whether or not something will look good, or if there’s a better embellishment I could use, which is a huge. time. suck. If I get an idea, I just go for it. It was a little scary at first, especially for a perfectionist like myself, but I have been pleasantly surprised at the results over and over again. Now I actually get excited to try out a new technique when an idea pops into my head!
Very rarely have I ever hated something new I tried. I have had my less than favorite layouts, but honestly at the end I’m just happy to have another finished week of memories recorded. The mess ups, or the failed technique attempts don’t really bother me, because in the end, I got it done and that’s all that matters!
5. Limit Your Options
Last year, I for some reason felt the need to constantly mix and match cards from all the core kits I owned. I thought it was too boring and predictable to use just one core kit for a layout, or that I wouldn’t be creative enough if ‘took the easy route’. Which is just absolutely ridiculous, because that’s the entire reason Project Life was created!
It was made so the matching of colors and patterns was done for you, so there was no guess work, and you could just take a core kit and go! Becky Higgins knew the importance of just getting it done, and designed this entire form of memory keeping around the simplicity needed to regularly do so!
So this year I just absolutely ignored that silly voice in my head, and have stuck to using a single core kit or Studio Calico kit in each one of my layouts. This has cut out one of the hardest and most time consuming tasks in my creative process. I have found other ways to keep it creative and fun, and enjoy those more because I’m not driving myself crazy trying to find enough cards from 6 different sets in that one specific blue-green color!
While I reduce my options by pre-selecting a core kit to work with for each one of my layouts, you can also use this tip in other areas of your creative process. Maybe you waste 45 minutes each time you’re crafting digging through your endless embellishment stash. Instead, try pre-selecting 2-3 packs of embellishments you’d like to work with in this layout, and that’s that! This also helps use up lesser reached for supplies, because you can always ‘select’ to use that core kit or stamp set or embellishment that has been sitting there untouched!
6. Simplify When Necessary
Some weeks are busier than others, and it’s important to be able to roll with the punches and find ways to still get your layouts finished when time is of the essence. Think about what usually takes the most time when you’re creating a layout, and think of a few ways you can reduce that time if you need to. Being prepared with a plan of action for busy weeks will also help when the time comes when that plan is needed!
For me, selecting cards for my layout can still take a fair amount of time, and can also be the cause of my procrastination when I’m not feeling particularly crafty. To eliminate the stress of trying to pick out cards in a time crunch, I came up with the solution of cutting down a single piece of 12×12 cardstock to fit into all my card slots! Boom, done!
7. Develop Regulars in Your Layouts
I have a few regular ‘types’ of cards I frequently use in my layout. My two most used card types are food cards and dog cards. I take a lot of pictures of what I eat, and of my dog (I mean… a lot). And while I love my little munchkin, I didn’t want pictures of her taking over my whole spread every single week. So I use this site to collage all the pictures I have of her for a particular week into 2×2 image grid. I also do the same with my food pictures each week. This means 4 pictures take up only one card instead of four, and I don’t have to cut any memories out!
Having this system of card ‘regulars’ really helps move the process along. Instead of freaking out because I have 7 adorable pictures of Dakota that I absolutely need to include in my spread, but only have one 4×6 card available, I just pop those bad boys into 2 collages and call it a day! Think about any elements or types of pictures you include in your layouts week after week, is there anyway to streamline your process or create a system for those regulars?
8. Stick to One Page Layouts
At the end of last year, I shared with you my plans for my Project Life 2015 album. These were mostly resolutions and guidelines for myself to try to make sure I didn’t get to the end of the year with only 12 completed layouts again. One of the things I decided to switch up for 2015 was changing to one page layouts each week instead of two.
This has been the biggest help with easily being able to complete a full week’s layout each week. Only one page means there are half the number of cards I need to pick out, plan, and decorate. And honestly, I don’t really need two entire 12×12 pages to record a week’s worth of memories. Limiting myself to one page layouts has forced me to narrow down the pictures I choose to include, meaning only the truly important and memorable stories and pictures from each week make it in. There’s no fluff included just because I had the picture.
I am the type of person that will include every single picture I take if given the opportunity. So it has been extremely helpful to not give myself that opportunity, which would lead to overwhelm and falling behind. I am a bit flexible on this rule, and if there are weeks where there are absolutely enough memorable memories to warrant 2 pages, I can make an exception. And I’ve gotten in the habit of including smaller inserts for special occasions like birthdays or holidays, where one day’s pictures would fill up a whole week’s allotted page if I didn’t. So I make this rule work for my, but not against me, and never compromise on including memories or pictures I want to remember.
9. Keep the Spark Alive
Finally, my most important tip for staying caught up with your Project Life spread is keeping the spark alive. While memory keeping is the main reason many of us chose this creative hobby, it is also our love of crafting that motivates us to do more than snap the pictures and type a caption on Facebook. If you’re like me, you love the creative aspect, the pretty papers, the cute embellishments, the artistic creation.
I find that it is so much easier for myself to want to create my layout each week if I am looking forward to creating the layout. If I’m inspired and motivated and the creative juices are flowing. Sometimes this just happens, and that’s great! But other times I’m just not feeling it. So I’ve had to get a little creative to keep the creative spark alive, so I can continue to create a weekly spread week after week.
My favorite way to do this has been to give myself little creative challenges. I started doing “Studio Calico weeks”, where I make a week’s layout using as much of my monthly kit as I can. I have also challenged myself to make an entire layout using nothing but stamps for embellishments, or to use a color scheme that normally isn’t my style. These little creative challenges make creating fun, and keep it from getting boring or monotonous, or becoming just another weekly chore. Find what keeps your creative spark alive, and do it!
That finishes up all the things I have found most helpful for staying up to date on my 2015 Project Life album. Will you be implementing any of the tips I shared here today? The best thing you can do for catching back up if you’ve fallen behind is stop giving yourself a hard time, make a plan, and just do it! I know you can 🙂 I’ll be cheering for you!
Do you have any tips of your own for staying caught up with Project Life? Share them in the comments below to help everyone else who may be struggling with staying caught up! Happy crafting everyone!