preparing for project life 2013

i am ready. i am organized. i have a plan. and most of all, i am excited! preparations are now underway for project life 2013, so i wanted to share how i am going to get ready for another year of documenting my life and my family in words + photos.

for me, it all starts with a few basic project life supplies: a white signature binder, a big pack of design a photo pocket pages and white 4×6 and 3×4 journaling cards. that is all i need right now to get ready for january.


a few things about me + how i do project life:

i document in a weekly format. my weeks are monday through sunday so i get a full weekend into each spread.

i like to keep things very simple. the color white is my very best friend.

i am obsessed with having things in chronological order. i don’t know why. i can’t get over this. so i just go with this crazy quirk of mine.

i must have the week number and the dates printed in the same place every week. i put this info on my week in review card, which lives in the top left 4×6 slot in my design a photo pocket pages. call me a creature of habit.

i print out my journaling cards because i don’t love my handwriting and fonts are fun. (i’m working on that love/hate relationship…) go here to find the best tutorial on how to print on journaling cards. so easy.

i use the day one app on my iphone + mac to write down what is going on every day. i love the reminder that pops up daily so i don’t forget. i really need that.

this is my second year doing project life. and i love, love, love it!

the most important thing about getting ready for project life 2013 is preparation. yes, that really can make the year go so much smoother. by doing a few easy + simple things ahead of time, i can be ready to fill my pages each week.

here is how i am getting ready for a new year of project life:

i insert design a photo pocket pages into my binder. (i learned that the binder gets full and you will most likely need two binders to complete the year – at least that is what happened to me even though i don’t add very many extra inserts in my weekly pages.) then i put a little sticky note on the top left corner with each week number written on it. this helps me to keep things straight so i always know which week i’m working on.

i print out 52 copies of this design a photo pocket page blank template. (you can find blank templates for other photo pocket page designs here.) i write the week number and dates on the top of each page. this is how i create my weekly pages – with a blank template pages, a pencil and a big eraser.

i enter the project life week number on every monday on the calendar on my computer. it helps me to keep track of where i am at a glance.

i create a project life folder on my computer. inside of this folder, i create 52 new folders labeled with every week number. all files, journaling cards and photos for each week will go in the corresponding weekly file.

i create 52 folders labeled with every week number in my dropbox photo file. this lets me quickly upload photos right from my iphone. when i am putting together my weekly pages, there is no searching for which photos i took that week because they are all right there in one little file.

this might seem like a lot of things to do, but it is all pretty simple and worth the time spent preparing. i’ve learned that having a good system is the best way to keep on track with project life. it is, after all, something i want to do and not something i have to do. some of these tips might work for you. and some might not. but it is all about finding a system that works for you. do it your way. however that might look.

tell me what you are doing to prepare for project life 2013?


project life is a simplified system of memory keeping created by becky higgins.
click here to view all of my project life posts.

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Angel - These are great tips! I’m hoping to start Project Life this year… Fingers crossed! I’ve drooled over it since the beginning ,but never had the $. I have some Christmas $ and I’m hoping I can start, but I’m worried about fitting it into my life so these are great tips. Can’t wait to follow your progress. :)

andrea - I’m SO glad you posted this! I was just looking at project life materials today online, and wondering how I would even begin to organize every week! Of course the set I would like isn’t available right now… So you just use all blank cards and print them on your own?… Or do you have a basic set/design that you use?…
I’m getting ready to buy. Starting to get excited about doing it!

liz - This is an amazing post Tracy, I love getting a peak into how you do things, the system you’ve devised is so concise and simple and organized (makes my OCD heart so happy). You’re simply a genius!

la bulle - first i would begin to apologize for my english :D ( i ‘m a french girl .. and so fan of you !! i can’t hold me to write a comment ;) LOL )
so i ‘m so so so happy with your post, cause i would like to begin a project life this year ( 2013 ) and wondered how to begin… your post make it so clear for me now … i just a have to cross my fingers now to continue throughout the year !!!!

thaaaaaaaanks a lot !! :D

Sara - Wow! thanks for the great post! I’ve managed to get through 3 years of PL, but always get distracted (i.e. “behind”) and these tips are going to be helpful! Never thought of setting up the Dropbox folders…brilliant! Looking forward to following your album this year!

barbara - Thank you Tracy for your tips. Your albums and your photography are beautiful…

I’m new to Project Life and to Dropbox. Would you mind explaining something for me? How do you upload each week’s photos to the correct PL folder in Dropbox? Do you need to set something on your phone or does it go automatically? Doesn’t it go by default to the “camera uploads” folder?

I love hearing how you’ve organized for this…I think that will be key to being successful in a project like this! I’d love to hear more about how you keep your supplies organized and ready each week also!

Looking forward to following along with you this year! Thanks for sharing bits of your life with us!

kristina - LOVE how you prepare, Tracy! You go girl! :)

Kristin - This is so helpful. I am feeling a little bit overwhelmed but this makes things sound manageable! I just hope I can stick with it through the year!

Briana - Tracy, I love, love, love your post! Thank you so much! I have tried to keep up with Project Life, but struggle to manage it in the midst of my actual life. :) I really like your ideas, especially the weekly folders in your year folder for storing files on your computer. I always have random folders floating all over and I can never keep track of them. I am going to implement your idea today (before the idea is gone forever from my too-full brain)! Thanks so much for this! You have a new follower as of today…

Jocelyn - Thank u for the basics! I want I start this yr but any tips to get started helps! I am nervous about being able to keep it up but I am gonna give it a shot!

Katrina - Thanks for this post! I love the Dropbox tip! I love the idea of using all one color binder and have been thinking of switching to white. Do you know if the white signature binder is going away forever? I don’t want to start with one brand and not be able to get more of them.

Sue - I hadn’t thought about using Dropbox for uploading my phone photos – that is brilliant and I like how you organized it into weeks. Right now I physically sit down once a week with my phone connected via usb and download my photos.

I am using Lightroom for my photo organization and it automatically dates the folders as it brings in files. I am going to check to see if I can customize it for the weeks – that would simplfy my life.

Becky - I’m a sporadic project lifer but feel that I can help on the Dropbox question. Dropbox is a cloud based file management system, meaning that you can always access files in your Dropbox. You need to set up an account and then download the application on your home computer and smartphone. Then when you add the photos from your phone to the application on your phone you can access them on your computer at home without having to text or email them. Hope this helps!!

Rhonda - Um….you are brilliant. Wish I hasd done this to start mine last year, I want to do it again this year but was worried about falling behind again. This gives a great way to be ahead of the game!!

Allie - Great ideas. I just got Dropbox. I’ll have to check out your app. You’ve got me inspired!

Angela - 2013 will be my 4th year with PL…however to be honest, 2012 was my most successful year! I usually choose 1-3 other PLifers to follow for inspiration and I think you’ll have to be one of my peeps this year. I can tell our minds think alike!

Looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

EmmaJ - Thank you for the link to the template. That is so useful. And I love the idea about putting the Post-its on the page protectors ahead of time. I’ll be doing that some time in the next week.

Julie Anne Staub - Tracy, this is awesome! I have never completed a full year because of the organization of the whole thing. New year – new hope. Thanks for the great suggestions!

Elisabeth Costa - Thanks for this!! Although I started this last year with your tips I hope to do a better job of completing and enjoying the project in 2013:)

Melissa - Tracy, thanks so much for the tips and the download links :)

I completed a full year of PL in 2010, but none – to my regret – since. I plan on trying again in 2013 and wanted to expand on your Post-It note tip if I may.

In 2010 I used Post-It notes for EVERY pocket except for my first 4×6 pocket for the week’s dates (which I pre-filled at the beginning of the year).

In the photo pockets I’d write which photo from that day I wanted to print/insert.

In the journaling card pockets I used the little, baby Post-It note size to write notes about the journaling that I wanted to do for that day. If I needed more room then I’d often use scraps of paper/fold & insert until I had time to do the “real” journaling cards more neatly.

I’m going to try out your templates to see how they work for me; making 26 2-sided copies and putting them into a 1″ 3-ring binder.

May we ALL find the methods that “make sense to” and “work for” us :D Thanks again!

Melissa - OOPS – I should add that most Post-It notes got stuck INSIDE of the pockets so that they were secured. Imagine the nightmare if a bunch of them fell out at once and you couldn’t recall where they came from? AAAAAAGGGGGHHHHH!!! lol

Tina M - Thanks so much for this post! 2013 will be our first time with PL. Like your emphasis on the basics. I used to scrapbook until I got so busy with family. Happy to get started again after several years of not scrapbooking!

kelly - Hi Tracy! Thank you so much for your post! This is my second attempt with PL (hoping it will be more successful this year) and I really like your organizing system and have already implemented it! I do have a question concerning the DayOne app. Reading the reviews for the app on the MAC (not the one for iPhone) many were not happy with the upgrade and lost all of their entries. Have you had a problem with that?

Belinda - I love your system!! Just a quick question – do you use iPhoto or some other photo management system or do you just import photos to your pictures folder?? Thanks

Tamara - OK, you just posted the magic that will get me to re-attempt Project Life in 2013…. 2012 was off to a great start, but I got way behind. It was a huge year for us, and lots happened. The more I delayed, the further behind I got… its in stacks at this point.

Your magic moment for me was when you said your weeks start on Monday… that was my AH HA! moment. I hate that the weekends always split. My weekends are WEEKENDS and most of what happens is a whole weekend thing – cheer competitions, gymnastics competitions, lacrosse tournaments, soccer tournaments, choir, band, vacations…

I am making many changes this year… going digital, using Day One (genius BTW), and moving my ‘weeks’ to suit my life.

Thanks again.
Tamara in TX

2013 Project Life Prep : Sparkling Allison - [...] thought this system for getting ready for Project Life was inspiring. She uses the Day One app on her phone, which is [...]

tracy - i use lightroom to import my photos from my camera + iphone to my computer. i use dropbox to quickly upload photos that i can access on my computer without having to connect my iphone to the computer with a cord.

tracy - i didn’t have any issues upgrading the day one app on my imac. i do have it set to sync with my icloud and backup on my computer daily. you can find these setting in the preferences for the day one app on your computer.

tracy - Here is a link to a great video from Cathy Zielske explaining how she uses dropbox with Project Life – this is how I learned about it myself. Thanks Cathy!

Julie - Great ideas Tracey! Hopefully this will be the year I get more organized. A few things…are you using the templates instead of the journaling cards, or in addition to them? Also, what exactly do you keep in those weekly folders besides pictures? Are you journaling on the computer and then printing out a finished template with your entries at the end of each week? I really want to just keep it simple and handwrite my entries with the journaling cards, but I also like the idea of having a “backup” if I type them up. Hmmm…I’ll need to figure out a good system. Thanks for the inspiration and good luck everyone!!!

Blooming Twenty-Something | Preparing for Project Life - [...] means it may take a few days to get them back.  I printed out this template (which can be found here) of design A pages so I can mark where I want what so I can just slip it in when I get the [...]

Fiona - Thanks for sharing your process. It sure does help to have a plan so you can stay on top of it. I would like to try and remember more details and little things the kids say this year. I’ll be using some of your tips to hopefully do that!

Deborah - Tracy – great post!! I am starting Project Life this year and love the advice and tips! Thanks so much.

Project Life Update | My Inspired Life - [...] Tracy Larsen on preparing for Project Life in 2013 [...]

Jami - This totally answered my questions!! Thank you!!

here + now // Project Life. | Colour Her {Hope} - [...] maybe Jami-style because I’m not sure I can do it exactly as is, we shall see. I follow Tracy on IG and she has inspired me to do this, as I followed her journey last year. When I described [...]

Lindsay - I love you. Was that weird? I, too, HAVE to have things in chronological order. AND, I want there to be consistency throughout my book. Maybe that’s why I haven’t started yet. No, it’s because my folder of images doesn’t look like yours. I need to take a day off of work to go through the folders. OH BOY. I opened up all of the templates and I’m going to get started. Thank you for this post. I love it!

Joanne - Tracey, I started using your ideas to prepare from PL at the beginning of the year. In April, I switched over to Mac and I started using the Photo stream feature in iphoto,which imports all my photos into my computer. Then, to organize it by weeks automatically, I set up Smart Albums for the rest of the year in which I gave it a date range between Monday and Sunday and it would put the photos on a folder for me!!

I saw that a little bit ago, Cathy Zielske posted something similar here:

I hope it helps!

Project Life Update | The Everyday and Beyond - […] Tracy Larsen on preparing for Project Life in 2013 […]

Lauren Pittenger — Preparing for Project Life - Lauren Pittenger - […] means it may take a few days to get them back.  I printed out this template (which can be found here) of design A pages so I can mark where I want what so I can just slip it in when I get the […]

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