Playing Project Life Catch Up

This is my fourth year doing Project Life and this is the fourth Summer that I've fallen behind.  It's just the nature of the season, and I've come to accept that.  Life is busy, and with two kids in tow 24-7, there isn't much time leftover for playing around with my Project Life album.

I'm blaming "summer", but in all honesty, I had only one week of May documented, so I guess I tend to slack off during both Spring and Summer.  :)

This week, though, I was determined to get back on track and play catch up in my album.  It didn't dawn on me that I actually had a process until I started doing it, and I thought I would share my process here for anyone else who needs a little "get back on track" inspiration.

Print those photos.
 I usually do this step the night before I am going to work on my Project Life spreads.  This is definitely my least favorite part for some reason.  It's time consuming and involves loading a printer, trimming photo paper, etc.  It's just not as much fun as playing with pretty supplies, in my opinion. 

I print all of my photos at home on my Canon Pixma MX780.  I love love love my printer and will cry the ugly cry if anything ever happens to it.  I print exclusively on Ilford Galerie Smooth Pearl Photo paper.  I've tried several other brands, as well as the other Ilford papers, but the Smooth Pearl is my favorite.  I swear by it and will not print on anything else.  The quality is far better than any photos I've ever received, either personally or professionally.   Right now, I have a large box of the 8.5x11 photo paper, which I trim down to 4x6 for my photos, but I do love the box of 4x6 photo paper.

Oh...and just a note about printing from a home printer.  I definitely recommend playing around with your settings to see how you can conserve ink.  I did two test prints (using the Ilford Smooth Pearl paper) with my settings set to "high quality" and the other with my settings set to "standard quality".  I could not tell enough of a difference between the two photos, so I print using the standard setting for photo paper.  I find that my ink cartridges last much longer on this setting, which saves me a few bucks in the long run.

Use your "go-to" page protector.
Don't try to get creative and stress yourself out with trying something new and different.  There is definitely a time for that, but stepping outside of your box AND playing catch up do not usually mix well together.  For me, my "go to" is the Design A page protector.  It's my comfort zone and really requires minimal thinking or cutting on my part.  Since I print my photos to fill the entire size of each pocket, I can easily fill up each 4x6 spot and then move on to the middle row of 3x4 pockets.  

 Tackle the remaining pockets.
After I fill in the 4x6 slots with my photos, I begin to address the middle row of 3x4 pockets.  To keep things simple and get my spreads finished, I designate each pocket one type of item:  either a filler card, photo, journaling card or a piece of memorabilia.  I usually start by shuffling through my journaling cards and filler cards and finding two that coordinate with my photos.  After I slip those in the pockets, I'll check out my memorabilia pile and see if I have anything that pertains to these particular days.  My go-to is usually artwork from my children trimmed down to fit in the 3x4 pocket.
The last step is to take a look at my photos and print out one photo either 3x4 to fill the entire slot, or 3x3 and then back the photo with a coordinating journaling card.
(Note: I usually work on both the left and right side together and I approach each side as I mentioned above.  Think: two journaling cards, two filler cards, two photos, two pieces of memorabilia).

Keep the embellishments simple.
The finishing touches for all of my spread are little bits and pieces....tags, paperclips, stickers, etc.  Sometimes I add more embellishments than others, but when I'm playing catch up, I tend to keep it pretty simple.  Date stamps and sentiments stamps are my go-to and are perfect for adding a little detail without being too overwhelming or time consuming. 

And that's my Project Life catch up process.  I'm currently completely caught up on my album and it feels so awesome!  My process is definitely nothing too fabulous, but it's an organized plan that keeps things moving along and gets those spreads finished!

Do you have a process for catching up on your albums?  Please share if you do!