Five Reasons This Approach to Project Life is Easier On You and Your Budget

PL Feb 2013 4
What if you could cut your Project Life time by three-fourths?

That’s just about what I did when I switched to a monthly approach in February.

While I was intrigued by Izzy’s simple method for Project Life, I had to try a monthly approach first. Turns out that’s the approach for me. Here are five reasons this method for Project Life is easy is on the scrapbooker, as well as the scrapbooker’s budget…

Five Reasons to do Project Life Monthly Instead of Weekly

1. You don’t need a weekly 4×6 card.
If you want, you can use one card per month, which means…

  • You can fit an additional photo onto the other pages, and this could save you a page protector per month, plus the time it takes to decide on the 4×6 cards.
  • You can stretch your yearly edition of Project Life to last more than a year if you like.
  • If you use the dividers you can skip the 4×6 cards altogether if you prefer.
February 2013 Project Life pg. 1
February 2013 Project Life pg. 1

While I made a 4×6 card naming the month of February, my other February pages don’t use the cards, as you’ll see in every other page below.

February 2013 Project Life pg. 2 (a).
February 2013 Project Life pg. 2 (a).

2. You can use fewer pocketed pages.

Ever have weeks where you have less than 7 pictures?

Because you’re not separating each week, you don’t have to spread a 3 or 4 photo week across the entire spread of pockets. You just keep adding photos to pockets till you’re done.

February 2013 Project Life pg. 3 (side b)
February 2013 Project Life pg. 3 (side b)

Most of my February photos happened in either the 2nd or 4th week of the month. The other weeks were minimal. Because I could start adding photos from the 2nd week into the first spread, for example, this probably saved me a couple of pages this month.

3. You don’t have to wrestle with timeline.

It really doesn’t matter if one photo was taken before or after another. Do we need to know which week it happened, in addition to the month? And does each photo really have to present itself in the order it was taken?

Instead of obsessing over that kind of weekly detailing, why not reduce the busy work and just put photos where they’ll fit? This simplifies things enormously. Plus, it can save you another page protector.

February 2013 Project Life pg. 3 (a)
February 2013 Project Life pg. 3 (a)

This page comes after my Valentines pictures. It’s got photos and stories from Feb. 12, 13, and 25. They were small individual stories and it was so much easier to just put them together on a page in-between the big stuff.

4. You don’t have to wrestle with the pocket orientations.

Because you’ve freed yourself from a strict weekly timeline, you can put all the vertical photos on one page with vertical pockets, even if they were taken in different weeks.

Trying to work a week into a page can be a nightmare when you have both horizontal and vertical 4×6’s as well horizontal and vertical 3×4’s. Not only can it be stressful, but it requires you use additional pages.

Save on pages, yet again, by just grouping them together according to their dimensions.

February 2013 Project Life pg. 3 (insert a)
February 2013 Project Life pg. 3 (insert a)
February 2013 Project Life pg. 3 (insert side b).
February 2013 Project Life pg. 3 (insert side b).

I had 3 vertical 4×6’s throughout the month, and three horizontal 3×4’s. I brought them all together in a single page that accommodated that size and quickly moved on.

5. You don’t have to worry about the start dates of each week.

Just look for all the photos you want to use for your month, print them, and add them to pockets where ever they fit.

Because my schedule and my priorities don’t allow me for me to work on Project Life every single week on a specific day, it cost me so much time when I had a few weeks to catch up on, trying to figure out which photos started and ended each spread. Identifying the photos per month is so much simpler!

February 2013 Project Life pg. 2
February 2013 Project Life pg. 2

Free from the timeline, here’s how I dealt with two bigger events of February. Valentine’s took the entire right side, plus 3 pockets on the left.

February 2013 Project Life pg. 4 (last page for the month)
February 2013 Project Life pg. 4 (last page for the month)

My best friend, Tami, had a birthday party the same week as Valentine’s Day, plus there were a bunch of everyday photos that week (many of us tend to do things in spurts — you have photo heavy weeks, and light weeks, right?).

I’m so glad I didn’t try to fit this all into a spread defined by a week! Instead, I printed enough birthday photos to fill a side and put them in at the end of the month.

Are You Behind on Project Life?

Since I started in January 2012, I’ve been half-doing and half-not-doing Project Life, while always thinking about stopping it. The weekly approach took more time and struggle than I have to give. But after tried the monthly approach just once, I’m totally back on board.

This is so doable.

The entire month took me almost the same amount of time a single week used to take.

If you’ve struggled to keep up with weekly Project Life spreads, why not give this a try? You’ll love the freedom and ease! And the money-saving benefits aren’t bad, either!

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  • Barb S

    I am glad to hear that you like the printer. I just got a Selphy 900 and so far really like it…especially the convenience of printing from my phone, too!

  • Helen

    This is my first year to do Project Life and I am basing my album loosely on Shimelle’s concept from a few years ago. She started with a 12×12 for the month, had a divided page protector and then ended with a 12×12 for the month. She did this for UKScrappers. My starting 12×12 is a photo of the kids from the month or a photo of the family, a calendar with events listed and maybe something else. I keep this pretty consistent from month to month. Then I have a page protector (or two, or one and a half protector) with photos in random order, and then I end with a 12×12 layout. For example, March’s ending layout was of the outtakes trying to get an Easter photo of the kids. It’s really working for me because it is so low stress. I had thought so much about doing PL but knew I couldn’t keep up with a photo a day or a weekly spread and knew that my perfectionism would get in the way of making sure photos and stories were in the proper place in the timeline and I would just give up. Once I gave myself permission to be random, it was like a weight was lifted. I’m having fun with this book!

  • Karen Lee

    I agree. Weekly, it feels like a burden. Some weeks there is NOTHING to put in the album! Monthly is much better.

  • Alison Drummond Jones

    I’ve done a “divided page protector approach” to my holiday scrapbooking for a couple of years now. After having twin boys nearly two years ago, they now have their own showcase first albums each of traditional 12 x 12’s. Now I am going to switch all my scrapbooking into a PL style – not being at all restrictive about what goes where or how much space goes into each pocket etc – but it will flow chronologically for ease. That way I will scrap all my family’s life as we go through, and slot in a 12 x 12 layout whenever I want to. Most days are “ho hum” but this way, I can incorporate their milestones I just jot on the calendar, and incorporate the photos for that month too. So – maybe an album a year, maybe not? Doesn’t matter, really.
    And unfortunately now that I have no current budget for scrapbooking, I am just going to chop up 12 x 12’s and use my existing stash as I go. We are about to face an international move from the UK to Australia, and this way, as long as I just jot down the boys’ milestones, I can easily catch up without spending exorbitant amounts of time. If I want to do an arty 12 x 12 later with a really special photo, I can slot the photo in a 12 x 12 at that space and come back to it later.
    As most of my stash will be shipped over and I will be without it for probably 6 months or so, I can incorporate notes on napkins or whatever and slot it in and not worry! That’s the way it will be for me.

  • Yup! If she can do it so can the rest of us!!

  • You won’t get your shipped stuff for 6 months? Wow!! Good luck with your move to a new country!

  • Cindy

    Thanks so much Katherine for the great ideas! I really like your suggestions about summarizing and Cathy Zielske’s “Week in Review” cards. I think I will try that. I like her style which includes a lot of written story as well as pics. I had never seen her Project Life pages before – thanks for bringing them to my attention. This is a great discussion. I really appreciate all the input! I used to keep journals about 10 years ago and then for years I didn’t. But in 2011 I wanted to start documenting my everyday life again- which is why I started Project Life – and I got back in the habit of journaling regularly. It has been a challenge to work with all that test, but I’m feeling encouraged by all the suggestions and I am going to try some new approaches and see what works.

  • A way that I simplify Project Life is that I do a single page spread for a week rather than a double page. I use a lot of photos, so I didn’t find it necessary to buy a PL kit. I use a variety of page protectors from multiple companies. I fill most pockets with photos and then use scraps of favorite papers to fill other spots. I use a 4 x 6 Cathy Zielske journaling template for journaling most weeks — this is super handy because I can coordinate the color of the card to match whatever else I’m using or even pull in a digital paper on the background for more visual interest. Because I include the dates on this card, I don’t have to use a separate card to indicate what week it is. Occasionally I’ll use smaller journaling cards that I handwrite. For me, this is the Project Life “sweet spot” — it’s creative enough that it is fun to do, but not so daunting and time-consuming that it becomes a chore. Even with a 2013 that has included lots of unexpected things like ill family members and an injury of my own, I’ve still kept up with PL!

  • Vicki J

    I used this method for 2011 and 2012… I knew from the beginning there was no way I could commit to a photo a day so I winged it. I made my own Monthly 4×6 card and then added when I had something for the months.. some months I actually had a photo for each day other months I averaged 3 photos a week. But in the end the Albums made me smile.

  • Reading this post Noell, it was like you read my mind. This is the second year of Project Life for me and I have done it this way from the beginning and honestly one of the only reasons I have kept up with it. This way is SO much more do-able and really does take the pressure off. I can’t image doing PL weekly, it just wouldn’t work for me.

  • Adel Otto

    I have been working weekly an often struggle to find connections and themes to make PL meaningful. By compiling monthly, it is more likely you could see these important story threads.

  • Yes, you’re right. I hadn’t thought of it, but now that you say so I realize I experienced that. Great point.

  • We haven’t gotten together in so long to scrapbook that I realize I’ve never seen your PL!!! Thanks for popping in, girlfriend. Loves back to you. :)

  • Anne Churchill

    This is exactly how I have been doing project life since I started out at the beginning of this year. It makes so much more sense to me to only do it once a month. One spread per week is not very flexible. With a monthly approach I can fit in all the everyday stuff + the big events, vacations etc. Sweet.
    When a month is over I gather all the photos from my camera, me and my husband’s phones, facebook, back them up, and order the best and most interesting for print, slip them into pockets along with memorabilia and Project Life cards, write captions and stories. Done! love it. I also add a little printed calendar where I write all we have done throughout the month (pretty much a copy of the big calandar in our kitchen).

  • Marcy

    I discovered you all on pinterest. I am an addict to this pinterest. I saw the project life and it is something I have been trying to do for a while but I get started and busy and then ,,, well you know what that is like. Obviously I am not alone. I love the dicussion it is feeding my soul as i look down at my stack of papers to work on this week! Thanks for waking me up to new opportunities! Noell you are simply amazing!

  • Awesome! Welcome to Paperclipping. We have a lot of fun stuff going on here in addition to the blog posts. If you haven’t already discovered the Paperclipping Roundtable — our audio talk show — you’ll love it. We even have a few episodes specifically about Project Life and Becky Higgins is on some of those — the most recent one about PL with Becky was in January and it was during the recording of that show that I decided to try this monthly approach.
    To find those episode just look for the Roundtable tab at the top of the page. You might also want to join my email list (top right corner).
    Thanks for the kind words! :)

  • Priscilla

    I started PL in Jan. of 2012 as well and knew right off the bat that there was NO WAY I’d be able to keep up the weekly layouts. So, the whole of 2012 is monthly and I LOVE IT! So true that you don’t have to worry or stress out about the orientation of your photos; just put verticals with verticals and horizontals with horizontals! I’ve told so many people that without PL last year there’s no way that I would have documented all that I did in 2012. Doing the same for 2013!

  • I looked for this after hearing you mention it on Roundtable. I’m the kind of person that runs in the opposite direction of the biggest trends, and I’m an event-based scrapbooker, so I was very much NOT going to do Project Life. HOWEVER, after reading this approach and seeing your results, it’s tempting, esp. because sometimes I have a smaller event I want to scrap but don’t have much to put on a page. Something to think about for 2014 aka hopefully the year we buy a home!

    Thanks for sharing!

  • It could be Project Life: The Small Stuff.

  • Joan Bandy

    This is exactly what I’ve been doing from the beginning. I’ve even used the pockets to do a “by year” album and just tried to represent the kids interests and happenings. I doubt they will every ask me if it was on a Monday versus a Thursday or which week of June it was! All they will know is that I loved them and wanted to remember the moments with them in some way.

  • Catherine Carey

    You have a beautiful album and I love your approach to PL. I’ve had trouble getting started but a month by month system makes sense of it. Thank you!

  • Ashley Moody

    I am historian for my sorority and I really like this idea of monthly opposed to weekly. I have never done a project life book, but I am very interested!

  • This is a great post. I found it when I searched for “how to get through a whole year of project life,” since I’ve got three half-years sitting on my shelf. :) I get to week 26, and think, “Hey! I’m already halfway through the year!” and then I fizzle out. Never fails. Ugh. My dilemma is that I’ve already tried doing monthly spreads, and I felt overwhelmed because I had SO many pictures. Weekly was more manageable, or so I thought. My monthly attempt was via traditional (digital) scrapbooking, though, and not Project Life, so maybe that is the key? I’ve also thought about doing something like Janet did on TDD, and just put together a weekly photo book, sans journaling. Not sure if I want to go that route either, though. I think I would miss the words. Sigh… I go through this same decision process every December. Ha. :) Thanks for the food for thought.

  • Welcome to Paperclipping, Jenny. In my opinion, using Project Life to scrap monthly is the easiest thing ever. You know what you can do? Go back and do a month that you missed and see if it seems easier to you. That might help you choose it or rule it out before 2015 swings around.
    I have a 30 minute video tutorial on this monthly PL process that I’ll be making available — next week I think. If you’re interested, please get on my mailing list (upper left column) so you’ll be notified when it comes out.
    Whatever you decide to do, good luck! :)

  • Thanks, Noell! I was thinking the same thing. I should just give it a try in my current album and see how it goes. :) Thanks for the heads up about the video. I’ll be back to see it!