Caylee Grey
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16 Lessons from my first year of Project Life // 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.

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.

w38_1

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

Comments

  • Eri

    Thank you for sharing this! Now I’m working on my PL using a Handbook but I’m thinking going with 12×12 next year. Because I love how they look and I sometimes have more photos than a little page protector can include!! So this is very helpful for me and the timing was great! Also, I really love your style and I found we shared the taste, I mean, I adore Jamaica’s, Liz’s and Tracy’s, too! So just thank you! I’m looking forward to every spread you will create!

    18 Nov 2013
    • Caylee

      Thanks for your lovely comment. This is the first time I’ve heard of someone going from Handbook to 12×12. What I love about Project Life is that I’ve never heard of someone stopping. People just try something else to figure out what works for them.

      18 Nov 2013
  • Loved this post! I identify with this so much, you could be my daughter! LOL! Next year will be my third year.

    18 Nov 2013
    • Caylee

      I think you and I are on the same memory keeping wavelength. Will you be doing anything differently for your third year ?

      18 Nov 2013
  • Thanks so much for your advice!! I’m gearing up to start in 2014, and a lot of the things you learned will help me in my first year! I bought a variety pack of protectors, but then bought extra A protectors, since I noticed that most of the layouts I’ve seen on the blogs have been in Design A.

    I’m like you – this first year will be my trial year, so I want to experiment to see what I like best. I’m very much a perfectionist, but I’m going to push those tendencies aside and remember the most important thing is to keep the memories, and the technique in choosing colors and format will come as I go.

    Thanks for posting this!! :) I can’t wait to see how your PL grows in this next year. You’ve taught me so much already!!

    18 Nov 2013
    • Caylee

      I’m so glad you’re starting PL. I can’t wait to see how you do it. It’s good to experiment with different page protectors, and I’m glad I did. If I just had Design A this year I’d probably try the different ones this year.

      I’m a perfectionist too, but I realised I couldn’t be with this. If I was, I wouldn’t have any weeks done. I can’t control what photos happen during the week, and the photos are usually what determine the kit / paper and elements. I settled for channeling my perfectionism into making sure everything lined up. I realised that “my style” will come out in the pages whether I try or not. They will always look like mine. Once I realised that I could let go and go with the flow a bit.

      Enjoy it ! Can’t wait to see.

      19 Nov 2013
  • Jess

    I love your blog. This was awesome to read. This year is my 2nd year and i love it. I think next year I am sticking too my SC kit.
    I have been taking a photo every day for the last 2 years. It stresses me out if I don’t have a picture for the day. But I’m hoping next year ill be able to let that go a bit and do relaxed weekly spreads without stressing out too much. :)
    I cant wait to see what you do next year.
    xx

    19 Nov 2013
    • Caylee

      Thanks, Jess ! Well done on two years of a photo a day, that’s amazing. I would be too stressed if my photo isn’t pretty or if I don’t have anything decent to photograph that day. Enjoy and embrace the freedom next year ! ♥

      19 Nov 2013
  • Tully

    Love you PL and this post! This was my first year too and am super excited for 2014. I have never scrapbooked either but always loved paper and have totally fallen on love with PL, I’m a bit obsessed actually! agree with so much of what you have said here. I am super keen to go hybrid next year but have never used photoshop. I love the clean crisp look it gives but also like a bit of paper play and embellishing. Did you teach yourself? I have heard photoshop elements is a good way to start. Any advice on where to start you could offer would be so good. Thank you x

    20 Nov 2013
    • Caylee

      Thanks, Tully. A bonus of hybrid is that you don’t have to use a program. You can just print the goodies out and use as normal. So even if you don’t get into hybrid, you still get all these great journal cards, elements, and paper, that you can have unlimited physical copies of.

      Photoshop Elements works just as well as Photoshop for this sort of thing. I googled the differences and they’re here – http://graphicssoft.about.com/cs/photoshop/f/elementscompare.htm I’ve never used any of the differences stated for Project Life. I taught myself Photoshop and now I use it literally every day. It’s a really easy, intuitive program with many ways to get the same end result. This year I started making an active effort to learn more through YouTube videos, and there is some great content out there.

      I noticed that there weren’t a lot of Photoshop tutorials that were applicable to memory keeping. I had to watch a few different tutorials for one thing that I wanted to do. This is why I have a plan to make a bunch of Photoshop tutorials and share them on my blog. Photoshop for Memory Keepers. Make sure to check my blog next year January when I start those. Until then, Cathy Zielske (http://cathyzielske.typepad.com/) and Liz (http://paisleepress.com/) have a few great tutorials.

      The best way to start is to play around. Open up a blank document, add digital elements, move things around, resize them, add text. Get a feel for how the program works. I’m always here if you have specific Photoshop questions.

      20 Nov 2013
      • Tully

        Thanks so much Caylee. This is a great start for me and I most certainly be looking out for your tutorials in January. x

        21 Nov 2013
  • Pingback: Project Life | Plans for 2014 | CayleeGrey
    20 Nov 2013
  • Rachelle

    Really loved this post. This is my first year doing project life even though I am a scrapbooker. Your post really got me thinking about what I liked and didn’t like about my process this year.
    I did a weekly spread and always felt behind. I am considering a monthly format, maybe I can keep up. Didn’t realize that title cards really stressed me as well, so maybe I will look for a digital simple one to use in 2014.

    So excited for your tutorials on Photoshop. I am intimidated by it. Would really love to incorporate it next year.

    Love your pages.

    20 Nov 2013
    • Caylee

      Thank you for your lovely comments, I appreciate them.

      If you feel behind then totally just do what works for you. You don’t even need to do a monthly format, you can just record as things happen, and as you want.

      I’ll put my 2014 weekly cards, with a bunch of other options on my blog on Friday. It will be one less thing for you to worry about :)

      20 Nov 2013
      • rachelle

        Wow!!! Thank you so much.

        21 Nov 2013
  • Thanks for sharing! I feel like I wrote this same post a few weeks ago! This was my first year and I did the same thing with the mixed pack and am struggling to finish this year because all I want are the Design A’s. I love your use of white space and your own designs, the less cluttered and coherent look is what I love and reminds me more of traditional pages and is so much easier to look at. Im trying really hard to get my husband more involved too! So let me know if you have any good tips for that ;) Thanks for sharing your pages, I really love the inspiration!

    20 Nov 2013
    • Caylee

      We’re blog template twins, and I see you also have a PL page with all your weeks on. So I like you :) Thanks for the comment, cause it means I have now found your blog.

      I’m struggling with finishing the non-A pages too, especially because I know that there is a whole album of As waiting for me. As for the tips for the husband, I’ll have to get back to you on that. Right now I’m just kind of telling him: “okay, three photos from you please”. And then he has no choice.

      20 Nov 2013
  • Hi Caylee,
    I follow you on instagram but I started following you here too because I want to take a deeper look to the things your write and post. :D
    Thanks so much for this post. It is great to see someone else thoughts about her first year with PL. This was my first year too and I used handbook. I SO love using my handbook… but since some weeks ago I struggle a lot with fitting everything in a 6×8… and having white space too… so I think I am switching to 12×12.
    It encourages me a lot seeing someone else’s PL spreads in 12×12 that I actually like it a lot. And that is your case. Normally I see 12×12 PL spreads tend to be too busy…
    So I think I will take your piece of advice, specially regarding photos. 12×12 makes me thing I need a lot of photos and that stress me out.
    Well, that is enough, I think I am rambling on here! :D
    Hugs!
    PS: Love to see your Photoshop tips too! I have poor skills on this!

    21 Nov 2013
    • Caylee

      You are such a lovely, talented person. I’m glad we found each other :) You are a rockstar with your handbook, it will be fun to see how you do 12×12. That’s what I discovered with the handbook too, that white space is difficult, and so is keeping a clean look without using a lot of pages. I also see most 12x12s are busy too. I don’t know how people do it, it looks like it takes so much time. I like rambles. Thanks for your comment ♥

      22 Nov 2013
      • I have to say this replay made my day when I read it. ^^
        thanks so much

        16 Dec 2013
  • sunny

    Thanks so much for this post! I am just about to begin PL for the first time. I am going to try to capture highlights of each month last year in a couple of pages. Right now, I am planning to do mostly traditional work, but I’m curious about your templates. How hard were they to make? I am decent with PS, but have never made a template. Thanks again!

    22 Nov 2013
    • Caylee

      I struggled to get a decent template going. I first bought the Becky Higgins digital ones, and only realised that the ” pockets” were not 6×4″, and were designed for digital PL and not hybrid. I realised this about twelve weeks in, and I actually cried. I’m on my fourth or so template now, and it’s perfect. I’m going to be sharing it before the end of the year as a freebie, so no need to make your own.

      22 Nov 2013
  • Love this, so perfect and inspiring. I took on Project Life for the first time this year and have enjoyed it but also, am working on finding my own way and I think I’m getting there…This may sound like a dumb question but I don’t understand how you make your template in photoshop and print from there? Like, you fit an entire 2 page 12×12 spread into your template, I get that but you print from there? I’m confused ha!!

    22 Nov 2013
    • Caylee

      I will be sharing my Photoshop template before the end of the year. I make the full 24 x 12 inch spread with smaller clipping masks acting as pockets. This is just so that I get to see the big picture. It’s like working with your album open, but digitally. Then I clip each to 6×4 and print at that size.

      22 Nov 2013
  • It’s so funny… I was actually planning on mixing up page protectors in 2014! It was interesting reading why you hated mixing & matching. My planning process is a little different than yours so hopefully it’s not a nightmare. I have been using Design A for 2 years….love it…I’m just feeling like I want to switch it up. Plus, I have enough leftover “non-A” plastics to fill an entire year so it’s a good way to use what I already have. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! :)

    24 Nov 2013
    • Caylee

      That’s great. You do physical PL so you don’t have to worry about about organising the files digitally, which is what totally put me off. I mean, I could have selected the page layouts every week, but that was too much for me. I will enjoy seeing your album next year.

      24 Nov 2013
  • franimal

    This is so helpful! Thanks for posting! I am a newbie and I do have one question – what exactly do you mean when you say “hybrid” ? I think That’s what I am going for but am not entirely clear. Thank you!

    26 Nov 2013
    • Caylee

      As far as I know, hybrid is half digital half physical. So for me, I make everything on computer and print it out, so that’s hybrid.

      26 Nov 2013
      • franimal

        Thanks! Ok. that’s what I plan to do.

        26 Nov 2013
  • Robin

    Hi Caylee, love this post! You have such a great style! Your pages are fantastic!
    Great timing on this post:) I’ve lost my mojo, a bit, for working on my PL just now. But you’ve just helped me get it back, so THANK YOU!
    I love, LOVE, love working on it usually. Just much going on here now. I don’t do digital, I’m a touch-&-feel-the-paper kind of girl:) But your issue with the different page protectors, I share in that. Not in the same way I guess. But while I love being able to mix & match, I get a bit frustrated when the different layout works on one side, but not the other, for what I might have printed. One way around that, that works for me, is I just cut up some lovely patterned paper, as I still have bunches of it, and use some of my favorites, to fill in the side that I don’t have photos to fit with. I kind of like the variety in color/pattern, and I love using up some papers I’ve been hoarding:) Win-Win for me.
    I am considering though, just using design A, & D (as I tend to get some vertical shots in as well), for 2014. I may just use the other odd protectors I have with random vacation albums from the past (have many travel photos printed, and kits to put them together, just not done yet). We’ll see.
    In any case, I’m inclined, after reading your post, to sit and make a list of what has worked for me, and what hasn’t, this past year (my first PL year), so TY for that as well!
    I look forward to checking back in and see how your year shapes up! Thanks again!

    26 Nov 2013
    • Caylee

      I love the idea of filling up a side with patterned paper. I’m sure I’m going to need a change from Design A, and I’ll be using other types for inserts.

      Whenever I’m uninspired, I make a list. Sometimes I’m more excited about the list than the actual thing, so this works for me. Glad to hear it’s pushed you to dive back in. That makes me happy. Thanks for your kind comment and for sharing your wonderful ideas. ♥

      26 Nov 2013
  • What a wonderful post, and I share many of your same thoughts. I can’t wait to read more on your blog…I love your PL style, your writing, and the fact you are in Germany!! I lived there 1996-1998 and reading about the markets makes me so nostalgic for a return visit. I love it there.

    4 Dec 2013
  • Just found your blog. LOVE this post! I call my husband T, too. Looking forward to following your blog in 2014 :)

    -Marissa
    (Oahu, Hawaii)

    21 Dec 2013
  • Sarah Burns

    I have been reading your site for the past hour! :-) 2014 will be my first year for PL. I found ya through google search. Thank you for posting your 16 Lessons From First Year. I was wondering what kind of printer you had, because you made a good point about not waiting till the end of a whole year to see actually enjoy all the hard work.
    Thanks for sharing!!

    22 Dec 2013
  • I agree with you on so many, especially about the page protectors! I bought a combo thinking I’d get bored not want to design the same layout week after week. But I discovered that it made it easier to use one basic design and A worked the best for me.

    23 Dec 2013
  • Jessica

    Hi! I just found your blog via Pinterest! I have been sitting here reading through your posts for the past hour or so. Such an inspiring blog. I too thought I wanted variety with my page protectors only to discover that I really liked design A.

    I have a question….what is the name of the script font you use? Oh and one more :-) how do you get the white outline around words? Such as the word “December” on this post?

    I look forward to following you in 2014! Thank you for all that you have shared.

    27 Dec 2013
  • I love your style!! :D

    8 Jul 2014

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