Now that I have been Project Lifing for almost a year, I am an expert. Well, obviously not, but I do have some lessons from fifty spreads. Bare with me, there are quite a few for a noob like me.

1. I do not like mixed page protectors

I bought the big mixed page protector pack (A to F) because to get 60 of just one type of page protector in South Africa was prohibitively expensive. I wish I had have paid the extra bit. I spent ages putting the correct combination of pages in my computer files (AB, BC, CD, DE, EF, FA, etc), putting the week headers in, and preparing. After printing my first twelve or so weeks at once, I realised that I had used incorrect sizing in Photoshop. It could have been because I was missing my husband who was in another country, but I actually cried. The tears dried, I redid the Photoshop files, and the folders, all that jazz, and somehow messed up the order this time. I redid everything, and messed it up again another three times. When weeks had inserts, or extra pages, I had to either change all the Photoshop files, or rename the damn file folders again, and then I still couldn’t be sure if they were correct. I am not ever doing a mixed bunch of protectors again. I am the Queen of Organisation and I couldn’t keep tabs on this. I hated it. The only reason I haven’t yet swapped to one kind yet is because of consistency.

Apart from the organisation catastrophe, I did enjoy the fact that it got me out of my comfort zone a lot. Without trying them all, I wouldn’t have found a favourite.

Project Life Lessons // cayleegrey

2. I love Design A (and Design E a bit too)

I also discovered that there were more reasons most of the Creative Team 2013 had chosen Design A only. It’s pretty, it’s easier to get it to look good, it’s more symmetrical. I applaud anyone who can make the other page protectors look good, and there certainly are people who can, but I’ve realised that I cannot. I also loved Design E for the lazy days, for the album covers, and the ends.

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3. I love 12×12″

I adore Jamaica‘s PL, and I’m so excited to see how Tracy tackles it, but I just can’t work with the 6×8″. I tried it for our honeymoon album and it didn’t work very well. I’ll never say never though… we’ll see how 2014 goes.

Project Life Lessons // cayleegrey

4. I don’t need to use every photo from the week

I figured this out pretty early on: I am happier with my spreads when they are less cluttered. I don’t need to put every photo I took to remind me of what happened that week. Since this is my first time scrapbooking, anything more than zero photos in my album is more than what I was doing before. One photo per week is enough for me. Before Project Life, I used to click on the folders on my computer to bring back memories. If I have something particularly interesting happen, it’s a great excuse to make a mini book. Then I can put in every single photo in the universe and still be happy with the layout and white space.

5. I like consistency

I loved my weekly cards. I honestly don’t think I’d be able to try and design a title card every week. I love that they kept my place in the album. I love that they added white space.

I also loved using paislee press products. Getting onto the paislee press design team was incredibly exciting for me in a time when I was doing nothing with my life except waiting for my visa, and had nothing to be excited about. I had never applied to another CT before, and I don’t think I would for any other designer. Liz makes my kind of products. I love that I found a designer that fits my style perfectly, and that I didn’t have to worry with looking around for digital papers. The best part is that it kept the weeks pretty consistent. I used a bit of One Little Bird too, and I love Peppermint’s style almost as much. Luckily the two go together well, and it worked in my favour.

Project Life Lessons // cayleegrey

6. I love kits

Pretty much goes with the consistency. Kits take the difficulty out of co-ordinating for me. It also keeps everything together in one neat little folder and narrows down choice.

Project Life Lessons // cayleegrey

7. I love hybrid

There is just no other way that would have worked for me. Hybrid was great because it took the best part of digital and the best part of traditional PL-ing. The digital part was great for being in different countries, growing my Photoshop skills, feeding my computer organisation habits, and just being so crazy easy to complete. I knew that I had to print out each week so that I could stay encouraged and current by the physical part of it instead of leave it until the end of the year before printing in a Blurb Book. Also, having something tangible is fantastic. No one particularly likes looking through photos on a computer.

I also love digital kits. As an anti-hoarder, having too much physical stuff creeps me out. Digital is also just so much cheaper.

Project Life Lessons // cayleegrey

8. I love Photoshop

I have my homemade templates in PS. These work for me. It helps me get a glance of what the week is going to look like, and makes sure that I have the end in mind when putting my photos and things in.

Project Life Lessons // cayleegrey

9. Preparation only goes so far

As much as I’ve tried, I cannot prepare a layout. I can put the week number in, and that’s pretty much it. Until the week has passed, and I have the photos I can’t even start. I’m amazed when I see albums with “4×6 here” or blank pieces of paper to be filled by photos. I can’t. I can, however, organise my folder structure and Photoshop files perfectly. I’ve had my 2014 folder organisation there since June.

10. Restarting is easier than fixing

If I’m uninspired, I won’t force it. If I don’t like how a layout is looking, it’s better for me to just delete the Photoshop file, and make a new one.

Project Life Lessons // cayleegrey

11. A picture says a thousand words but sometimes words say more

I need to work on my journaling. I’m not big on including that, and this year I almost exclusively relied on photos, but sometimes things need to be said. I need to work on a few ways to start incorporating journaling slowly. Ideas include: he / she, currently, notes, things I’d tweet, lists.

Project Life Lessons // cayleegrey

12. I love it when T takes photos and tells stories

Even though I’m documenting both of our lives, I noticed that throughout the weeks I didn’t include something that happened on his side at work. Not because it was unimportant, but because there wasn’t a photo in my photo folder for the week. I’m going to have to push more for photos from him, or give him a little 3×4″ journaling card. Next year I want the album to be from both of us.

Project Life Lessons // cayleegrey

13. There is no shame is using photos from the internet

This isn’t a photography portfolio. I am not selling this album. It is for my personal use, and if a professional photographer took a better photo of Panic! at the Disco than I did (he did), I will print that out and put it in my album.

14. Posting on the blog keeps things printed

I have no issues with staying up to date digitally, but I do tend to print in batches of three weeks. By the time I’ve printed I’ve forgotten about the week, and I don’t feel like writing where I wanted to write anymore. In 2014 I’m going to be more active with sharing my pages on the blog, and have a stricter printing routine so that my physical pages can be as current as the digital ones.

Project Life Lessons // cayleegrey

15. 2013 made it easy to stay inspired

Since this year was an absolute adventure and involved almost twenty countries, it was easy to record and to want to record. I’m interested in seeing what next year will be like, and how I deal with boring weeks.

Project Life Lessons // cayleegrey

and mainly…

16. This year was a trial, next year is intentional

Project Life Lessons // cayleegrey