I could be the poster child for getting behind on Project Life. It's happened more than once. We're not talking a week or two behind either.
I've got good reasons. Sometimes I work in waves. Sometime I have really dry weeks creatively. Sometimes I am so busy living life that the last thing on my mind is stopping long enough to "scrap" it. Sometimes it's because I went on vacation and took a thousand pictures and can't seem to move past that week because it's overwhelming to squeeze it into twenty-four 3x4 pockets. But it's just as overwhelming to consider turning that week into about ten weeks worth of pages.
Even though the Project Life style of scrapping is "easy," we all get behind and we all have good reasons for getting behind. The question is, how do we get caught up, rather than giving up altogether?
It can be done. (I'm living proof. I've gotten caught up a bunch of times, including recently!)
ONE: Remember what you love most about the Project Life style of memory keeping. This will be a different list for everyone. My list has five things.
1. I love having rules and guidelines that give my scrapbooks a unifying look.
2. I love having one book that captures the year.
3. I love that I don't have to reinvent the wheel every time I sit down to do a layout.
4. I love it can be quick and easy or leisurely and creatively rewarding when time allows.
5. I love watching my seven year old devour last year's book and laugh as she remembers something fun we did as a family.
Okay, so now here is where I will admit that until last week I was nine weeks behind. Yep, you don't have to reread that, you read it right, NINE! I did wonder if I should give up, UNTIL I took a moment to remember what I love most about this kind of scrapbooking.
So now that you are determined to catch up, how in the world do you begin?
I find it helps to start with the most current week and work backwards. I'm one of those crazy people who can't post my pages out of order, so this was a little bit hard for me. But, what it does is allows me to work on the easiest layout first. The stuff that the details are still fresh in my head. It also allows you to pretend for a bit that you aren't behind. And perhaps the most important thing it does is it STOPS you from getting FURTHER behind. It's almost like a clean slate.
As you can see, Week 36 (see above), the week I tackled first was a pretty important week. I certainly didn't want to loose the details of the first week of school for my kids, especially since it was a first week of kinder for my youngest. If I'd waited until I was all caught up I might have lost details or been creatively depleted and not loved these pages as much.
THREE: Evaluate when and how you work best.
I learned that for me the kids have to be in bed and the hubby has to be out of the house or intentionally occupied with something else (maybe sleep or watching something on hulu) for me to focus on my own bliss (scrapbooking). Interruptions are very hard when I'm trying to be creative. For you, it might be different.
FOUR: Carve out a block of time.
I have three little kids, so I have two methods that I carve out time. First, I choose a night to stay up super late and kick out multiple layouts. Second, I ask my mom if she wants to have the kids for the day. If you aren't blessed with a mom close by who just jumps at every opportunity to take your kids, then ask another mom to do a kid swap. Be fair about it. If you have three kids, ask another mom who has three kids so it's a fair trade. If she's got three kids about the same ages as your kids, I imagine she is eager for a little "alone" time and would be more than willing to have a few crazy hours with six kids so that she could have a few peaceful hours with NONE!
FIVE: Sort your digital photos.
I have iPhoto, which I love. I sort the weeks into temporary albums. When I originally upload my photos I label the "roll" by the week. For example : PL Wk 06 (Part 3). I try to upload my photos Saturday nights to avoid having multiple weeks on a "roll". It makes sorting faster. But if you've been neglecting Project Life, you likely haven't been diligent about those kinds of things either, that's why the temporary photo albums are nice. I sort ALL THE WEEKS I'm behind. This is something you can probably have done before your carved out block of time arrives to make your focused time just about designing.
SIX: Pick a week of photos and go.
I work backwards, as I eluded to before. I go to that week's photos and ruthlessly delete until I only have my favorite ones. (Remember I'm only deleting them from the temporary album, not from iPhoto.) I should be left with a manageable number of photos. It really doesn't matter what week you pick. If there is one week that inspires you, do that one. If there is one that seems really easy because of the number of photos, do that one. The idea is to make progress and gain momentum.
SEVEN: Reuse the creative work you've already done!
This is my favorite short-cut. By this time of year you already have pages and pages of design layouts to flip through and either be inspired by or flat out lift. I ALWAYS start by opening a previous design that has about the right number of photos for what I have. Tweak it to work for the orientation and quality of your photos. Replace pocket cards or photos. They pop in with minimal resizing and it saves a ton of time!
EIGHT: Minimize embellishments.
I mean this with all sincerity. Unless you are Ali Edwards, or Amy Tangerine and your livelihood is dependent on the cuteness of your pages, minimize your embellishments. You can always go back and add more later, if you have time. But remember, you're trying NOT TO GIVE UP HERE. Every page does not need to be creative genius! Even with Ali Edwards she wouldn't chose every PL layout to put in her portfolio. Right?
By this time you are moving pretty quick until you realize you just hit the reason you got behind in the first place... your family vacation. That week you took more photos than you took the entire last three months. That trip you'd been saving up for all year.
NINE: Don't be afraid to SKIP a week.
I mean it. If it's a week that is going to take a lot of thought and is going to require more than an average week, then the wisest thing to do is to skip it and return to it after all the other weeks are caught up. You will enjoy doing it more once you're caught up (except for that one week).
I skipped Week 31, our family vacation to Nevada. You can see it here. See, I did get it scrapped, just did it last.
TEN: Collapse one or more weeks into a double spread.
When I went back I realized I only took five photos one week. The quality of the photos didn't justify two full 12x12 pages. Same issue two weeks prior. So I decided to swallow those weeks up in another one and limit the number of pages I needed to do. Once the decision was made, three weeks were done in the time it normally took me to do one week, without loss of quality.
I did this in Week 28-30. You can see how I collapsed three weeks into one double page spread here.
ELEVEN: Don't forget to keep up on the current week.
It's easy to get so focused on past weeks, that you neglect working on the current week. Try not to do that, if at all possible.
Now, if you are behind, go and do and always ENJOY!