Caylee Grey
Fairy art mother


Free Project Life Catch Up Guide

Okay so you’ve¬†committed yourself to weekly Project Life¬†spreads?¬†Good for you. That’s the way I do it, and that’s the way most people do it. The number one disadvantage of the weekly pages is that getting behind can happen really quickly. In fact, it takes exactly seven short days of inaction to fall behind.

Recently I fell behind in my Project Life for the first time on this scale. TWENTY SPREADS kind of scale. Two-oh. Ten times two. Basically one million in Project Life terms. I fell behind because I fell in love with something else. I’ve been cheating on Project Life with¬†art journaling. Now because of creative team commitments,¬†my album was never completely ignored. So that isn’t twenty weeks. It’s however many weeks that happen between the Paislee Press and Essence posts, plus inserts. When I shared this on Instagram, I had so many people comment, direct message, and email me wanting to know how I did it. And so here I blog about it.

The secret to how I did it is that I just did it. But that’s not what you wanted to hear, right? Let’s get detailed…

The Ultimate Project Life Catch Up Guide ‚ô• Caylee Grey

Don’t get behind in the first place

Again…¬†that’s not why you’re reading this. Well, remember this once you’re all caught up. If weekly pages are not working for you, try monthly or Project Lifing at will. If you’re like me and enjoy the structure and accountability of weekly pages, well then you’re going to have to work at it a bit. Set a reminder on your phone. Do it bit by bit. Even if you just take notes each week on what you did, and do a creativity burst once a month. Do whatever works for you. You know yourself better than I do.

Work backwards

This is the best tip I can give you. Start with¬†this week. This week is the easy one to do and once you’ve gone through that whole process all the other ones are going to be easy to. It’s called flow. Once you’ve built up a momentum it’s easier to do the more difficult ones.

If necessary, get out of your usual space

I usually work at my laptop in my library / craft room / home office upstairs. I finished twenty layouts while lying in bed with my laptop.

Decide whether you want to do it all at once a la Caylee, or over a period of time a la Ronnie

I sat (lay) down and just went through everything. I know that Ronnie is catching up by doing only one extra layout per week. Or you can try something in between.

One at a time

Don’t focus on the fact that you have twenty layouts to do. Focus on just getting one done. Once it’s done you can focus on getting a new one done. And so on. This is Crafters Anonymous.


I’m a total GTD girl and so this works for that part of my personality. If I write absolutely everything down that I need to do, the task seems much less daunting. As soon as I start ticking things off? Well man, then I’m just on a super high.

Organise your weeks

If you don’t have consistent weekly title cards, then use post it notes to organise the weeks.¬†Make things as easy as humanly possible before you start the meat of the “work”. Make sure that you know exactly what you need before starting.

Organise your photos

A while back, when I first decided that I wanted to tackle the backlog, I put my¬†favourite photos into¬†numbered folders. My photos are already perfectly organised for me by month and then by event. Pics that are not from an event are put into the “Bits” folder. I made new folders with just the number of the week, and copied the photos. I copied them because I would delete them once done. This is serious motivation for me because I hate having¬†wasted space on my harddrive and the only way to get rid of it is to do it.

When you have all your possible photos in one space, and clear away everything else (other, non-applicable photos), you can focus better and get things done.

Don’t feel guilty about leaving things out

This is a big one for me. The only reason I don’t Project Life annually is because I forget things. I do it weekly so I can really have all the details that I want to have in there. I want to have all the feelings I felt each week. I¬†really do make an effort of typing up my week in review cards¬†at the time, which really helped my process along. On the weeks that I didn’t do that, I just relied on my copious amounts of photos.¬†In order to progress I also had to let go of my fear of leaving out the details.¬†If I have only one photo in a week, or only one memory (even if it is “Griffin was cute this week”), then that is one more than if I didn’t do it at all, and that’s worth it for me. Let go of the guilt.

Want ways that you can rediscover those memories?¬†Look at the photos you took, go through old Instagram photos, tweets, Facebook statuses, emails, ask husbands and friends, go through memorabilia, go through bank statements. All of these hold bits of how you spend your time.¬†I often¬†take photos¬†that are not pretty but rather aimed at remembering. Once I’ve remembered them, I delete the photos, although I¬†love deleting, so if you feel like that’s too much of a mission and you want to hang onto them, then go ahead.

Combine weeks

Looking back our weeks are often less important to us than when¬†they were happening. Some weeks need three spreads, and some weeks only need half a spread, and I’ve made myself okay with the fact that I don’t need to have exactly two Design A pages per week.

Keep it simple

Create¬†the skeleton. Go back and add the flesh. Photos, papers, sorted. Even if it’s only¬†photos.¬†Just get them in there. When you feel like it, you can go back and add the embellishments. If you never end up feeling like it? That’s okay too.

Free Project Life Catch Up Plan - in glitter and glitter-free

Do you have any tips for catching up on left out weeks? Please share them!


  • Girl, I’m about to do this same thing over this weekend. So as usual your post is eerily spot on for what I need to read!

    I’m a HUGE fan of organizing by week (photos, notes), even if one does the actual PL spreads monthly or annually. The truly daunting thing for me is The Sorting. What happened which week? OMG, can’t face it. So I just store my photos by week as it is, and make weekly notes/review cards.

    One of my main tips is toget any ephemera into the album as quick as possible. At first I tried to have an ephemera file, but once again, The Sorting. So I’ve started just poking the ephemera as soon as I get it, into one of the photo slots for that week’s spread, even if I’m not making the spread right then. Having it pre-sorted can also aid in remembering memories from that week.

    Other good memory provokers: browser histories, iTunes “recently played”, diary entries, IM conversations, shopping lists, text messages, and sorting your computer files by “last opened”.

    6 Aug 2014
  • This is SO great, Caylee! I feel behind last summer and ended up documenting exactly ZERO weeks of the summer. As a mommy Project Lifer, NOT documenting the summer is basically blasphemy since that’s when all of childhood happens in kids’ lives. Le sigh. I beat myself up over it FOREVER but I readjusted my approach almost immediately this year and things have been GREAT.

    I’m always anywhere from a week to 3-ish weeks “behind”, but when I say “behind” I *mostly* mean that the layouts are 75% planned/laid out in PS already and just have to be filled in the rest of the way, printed, photographed, and posted. So not actually TRULY “behind”.

    My number one tip, besides the whole “don’t get behind in the first place” one, echoes another tip you provided: WORK BACKWARD. I wouldn’t have fallen so far behind last summer if I had just kept moving forward and revisiting past weeks at a speed that worked for me until they were all completed. But like a dummy I stayed stuck on that first missed week and paralyzed myself.

    Earlier this year I had a really hard time making week 8 work. There was something really special that happened that week that I wanted to document, but I just couldn’t make it work. So instead of dwelling on it, I skipped it. I totally skipped it — 100%. It’s not even in the album. I left blank pages where it’s supposed to be so that I can go back and try to tackle it again if I have the time/desire to do so, but I skipped it and didn’t look back and just kept moving forward. And it’s worked out so well.

    Whew. That was a lot of words. Basically, my tip is really just a validation/confirmation of one of your tips: work backward. If you’re three weeks behind, it’s okay. Keep up with THIS week (while everything is still fresh in your mind), and then work backward IN ORDER. Also, maybe have a beer. Or a cocktail. Or some great sex. Whatever helps you relax and get your frustration out. And THEN sit down to tackle it. That’s it. That’s all I’ve got.


    6 Aug 2014
      • I have a burning desire to know which one it was. XD

        10 Aug 2014
  • I love your advice. I’m behind. Again. But I love everything about this project and will keep plodding along. Thanks for your tips! xxx

    6 Aug 2014
      • Ha yes I’ve never thought of that way… I’ve had so many false starts, I’m so glad I kept trying bc I love my album so much now

        7 Aug 2014
  • What a fantastic post! Now I know where to start :) I am going to get started and tackle what I can. The big tips for me? Don’t get caught up in guilt and perfection, and work backwards. Thanks, Caylee :)

    6 Aug 2014
  • i feel silly posting this because i’ve never been behind more than a week. BUT, if I go back to work soon, and it may be looking that way, you never know, i could fall behind. great post though as always :)

    6 Aug 2014
  • Yes, yes, YES.
    This is beyond inspiring. So sitting down and kicking that PL booty next Tuesday. (Because let’s get real, Etsy shop can’t be postpone any longer, so that gets done first)

    6 Aug 2014
  • Keara

    Loving the “don’t feel guilty about leaving things out” advice! I struggle with that every week, like I’m cheating if I don’t include a photo I took or if the spread ends up just being about the weekend instead of M-Th. Great post ! :D

    6 Aug 2014
  • This is wonderful! I’m about 4-5 weeks behind because I’ve also been doing an art journal of sorts- but as an art journal/scrapbook for my best friend’s 21st birthday present. I’m sort of on a time crunch so after I do a few pages almost every night after work, my creative energy is spent, so my PL layouts have been slacking. Thanks for this post! (:

    6 Aug 2014
  • haha, so good. I love your “I just did it” :) In the end, that’s the only thing that really gets you to the finish line.

    I’m with “never get behind in the first place”. This is my rule. And in the past 1.5 years I only had to catch up twice and I was only one week behind. So I’m no help at all with this topic.

    6 Aug 2014
  • I love these kinds of posts. I’m the epitome of “behind”. 2013 completely untouched. I finally finished 2012 like three months ago. I’m doing 2014 monthly, and I think I did Feb, Mar, Apr only. I just gotta get working!!

    7 Aug 2014
  • Such a great post, Caylee! you gave some really good tips. Thank You!
    by the way, I’m a GTD girl too :) love the book (and the method).

    7 Aug 2014
  • With how much catching up I need to do, I totally needed this post! I’m definitely going to implement some of these tips so I’ll stop being behind. Super great post, as always, Caylee (:

    7 Aug 2014
  • I actually really enjoy blitzing several months of photos at once, but then I just do my album chronologically so I’m not too fussed with having one spread for each week. Some times, one day takes up 3 pages, or a spread might cover an entire month.

    For me, the painful part is getting the photos ready to print. I don’t have a printer at home, so preparing several months of photos to print at a time feels soul crushing. I did a tutorial on it a few weeks ago – it might be helpful for other photo-editing adverse people!×3-photos-in-pse.html

    I love all of your tips – I’ll definitely find them helpful if I feel myself getting panicky about being too behind! Xx

    8 Aug 2014
  • Wonderful post, Caylee!
    Ronnie xo

    11 Aug 2014
  • Fantastic post Caylee! This year I’ve done a great job at being “caught up” only because I am printing photos weekly/bi-weekly (from a store) instead of waiting until I have enough to justify the shipping costs (from an online store) like I have in past years. And the only reason I changed it up this year was because I wanted to make sure I could submit to a creative team on time.

    But past years I usually batch printed every month or two months and always kept two things going so that being “behind” wasn’t bad. I always had a notebook with notes/small bits of journaling from that week & I always sorted my photos into the weeks. As long as I had those two semi-boring steps out of the way, the motivation to catch up was high once I printed my photos.

    I hope this helps a lot of people because it makes me so sad to think people are stopping PL just because they’re a little “behind”. I always say to people I know who are behind to just skip those weeks and start now. I’m way too anal to actually do that myself, but I hope it gives hope to others. Haha! :)

    13 Aug 2014

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