Thursday, January 20, 2011

How I'm Getting Caught Up

I have been working really hard to get my son's albums as caught up as possible before June - when baby arrives. I've been posting on my personal Facebook page about my progress, and it has raised some questions about how I was doing it - so I thought I'd share my system with you! I used to do all of my scrapping the old-fashioned way, but when my son hit a certain age, it was too difficult to find time to scrap since he wanted to play with all of mommy's 'toys' and that's when the falling behind began….Then, a little over 2 years ago, I discovered digital scrapbooking and started playing catch up. It's been a bit of a challenge, but after putting a little time and effort into figuring out what I needed to scrap, I've got a system down and am able to whip out layout after layout when the urge to scrap hits me. 

Don't believe me? This past weekend I scrapped 9 layouts from my catch-up list. NINE! (and 119 photos...)

I know my system isn't going to work for everyone, but it's worked really well for me. And getting it set up is the hardest part, but it's a pretty simple concept. At first, it was so overwhelming thinking about how many pictures I'd have to sift through to get caught up. It seemed impossible. But then I sat down and made a plan, and so far, so good. 

First you need to figure out what needs to be scrapped. Specifically. This is way more detailed than saying "I need to scrap 2008" or "I need to scrap our vacation".  I decided to break it down by layout. Don't be afraid! Yes, this is going to take a little time - but trust me, as we get further into the process you'll be thanking me for making you do this! 

Make your Scrap To Do list of all the layouts you need to do to finish each album. For me, I want an album for each year of my son's life (calendar years) so I set out to make a list for each year, layout by layout. Each of my lists has about 80-100 layouts that I need to get scrapped

I don't think I can explain this part in a generic way, so I'm going to show and tell you what I did. I opened up my pictures folder for the year I needed to scrap and literally started going through them day-by-day. Take a look at my current lists to get a better idea of what I'm talking about:

On a sheet of paper I wrote the month as a title, then as I came to an event or image from that month that needed scrapping, I wrote it down. I wasn't too specific, but enough that I could glance at my list and know what it was. 

Example: 1-30: My Birthday, 2-24: Playing Basketball - You can get a better idea of this looking a little closer at my lists (these are pulled from my 2010 list, see, I'm almost done with February)!

When I had a month with a lot of random pictures that were really cute - but would mean a bazillion 1 page layouts (aka: time consuming), I'd add a 'Misc' or  'Cute' to my list (see samples below). Making my list/s took a long time - but when they were finished I had a tangible and visible list of what needed to be done, and, surprisingly having the list in front of me (regardless of how long it was) actually made catching up seem much more do-able.

The next step is the actual scrapping! You know, the fun part… Now, when I get the urge to scrap I sit down, grab my list and pick one of the items to scrap! When the layout is done, I can cross it off the list, which feels great and lets me visibly see how much closer to my goal I'm getting! When all the layouts are crossed off your list, you're done with the album!

And that's how I'm catching up - getting all my photos scrapped :D 

Some additional tips and thoughts….

Remember, you are playing catch up. You still want beautiful layouts, but be smart with your choices. Think about the ways you can get more bang for your time. Cram the photos on if you need to! Stay away from multiple one-photo layouts - unless it's a day/event/activity that one photo is all you need to scrap.

Personally, I scrap faster with templates - mostly because all the photos have a place on the layout from the beginning so when I'm doing catch-up layouts, I tend to do a lot with templates. 

Make a separate list for each thing (each year, each child, each 'album' so that you can easily filled ideas to scrap when we get back to scrapping….

When making your list, don't worry about the exact images you need to scrap - focus on the events, dates, occasions. If your pictures aren't organized or scanned you can make a folder or pile - but don't focus on getting the pictures ready for the layout, you can select the exact images (or scan them) when you're ready to scrap that event. One other thing to keep in mind when you're making your list is that we're playing catch up - and we want reasonable albums :D This is why a lot of my albums have multi-photo layouts featuring a bunch of pictures from a month - this prevents a whole bunch of single page layouts! 

Start with just one list for now. One year, one event, one child (whatever fits your final-product goal) so that you have something to use as a guide when you get the urge to scrap - but keep going! Get all your lists made and ready so you always have something unique to scrap! 

It is so satisfying to cross out days and even more satisfying to cross out entire months! And, because I put in time and effort making the lists, I know that when everything is crossed out my album is complete! No second guessing, no hoping I didn't forget something - it's done! 

Don't edit or Once it's done it's done. I do save layered Tiff files of all of my layouts, but that's more to be able to fix a spelling error or something….or because I'm anal and can't delete them! But one of the steps I take each time I finish a page is to flatten it and save the full size layout in a 'to print' folder. And once it's done and ready to be sent out for printing - I won't go mess around with it. If you keep going back to fix things, you'll never catch up! It's the little imperfections that make these more personal! It's OK to forget a shadow, trust me! 

Always try and scrap from the list first. Whenever I get a CT kit to work with or buy a new kit or just feel like scrapping something - I turn to my list and try to find an event I need to scrap that I can work on. This often saves a lot of time, I don't have to dig through picture folders to find an event or images that will work - and it often allows me to be creative with kits as I stretch them to work with what I need to scrap!

And finally, if you are doing single page prints, order anytime a sale comes along! You can put the prints right into albums when they arrive at your door because you can use your list to help you leave space for the layouts that aren't finished yet. A bunch of my albums have pages that look like this (see image) a post-it lets me know what layout I am still waiting to design or print to insert.

Whew, that's quite a blog post! I really hope this helps at least one of you develop your own system for getting caught up. Really, what it comes down to is getting organized. For me, it was getting organized in a way that would allow me to stay focused on what needed to get done - but for you it might be something different! I would love to hear your thoughts, answer your questions and  see your Scrap To Do lists! 

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  1. Oh my Manda! I can't believe my eyes when looking at the post-it page, I have an album exactly like that, problem is that when I checked it yesterday I noticed that the psd of one of the pages is lost, so I have to redo it all over again. So annoying! But it's fun to see that we do exactly the same way with leaving pages for something in between!

  2. I do something similiar, I only have a list of the current month I am working on. I think I will make a list of all I need to get done too since I can do those layouts with CT like you suggested. woo hoo can't wait to get organized and closer to caught up!!

  3. OMG you are such a life saver. I have been putting aside the albums I would love to do because I didn't know how to do it. Your post is in my favorites now :)

  4. Wow, this is great. I'm fairly new to DS and I have been struggling getting started on projects (probably too overwhelmed). This sounds like it would work for me. I'm going to start my list right now. Thanks so much.

  5. Wow, thanks for sharing! I need to do this... going to get right on it!! Great idea!!

  6. I do something similar to the lists but I do it with folders that my photos are in. I do a layout for each month for each of my two kids, plus layouts for any special events or photos I want to highlight. When I go through each month's photos at the end of the month, I make folders for each child and for each special event. When I scrap, I open up my "Pages To Do" folder and pick a folder of photos to scrap. It does help a ton to get organized, but I still have a long way to go! --CindyB

  7. Great explanation of how to stay organized!

  8. this is really helpful. i hope to find a system that works for me. A question I have been trying to figure out is how to organize my kits? Any suggestions?


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