As I mentioned last week, I’ve decided that my February goal (a.k.a. goal #3) is to do Project Life in 2013. I’ve already started on Project Life because I wanted it to span the entire year. So I spent the better part of January thinking about what didn’t work for me last year and brainstorming solutions. Over the course of two blog posts, I’ll be sharing the obstacles that tripped me up last year, as well as the solutions I’m going to give a try this year.roadblock road sign

Obstacle: This can get complicated pretty fast!

Solution: Be a beginner.

Project Life is designed to be a simplified memory keeping system, but as with most creative pursuits, it’s really easy to complicate things. That’s what I did last year. I collected tons of fabulous Project Life ideas via Pinterest from veteran Project Lifers—really talented scrapbookers and photographers. The trouble was, I needed to work out my own process and way of approaching this project first, then step it up from there. In a nutshell, I need to give myself permission to be a beginner. (Because that’s what I am.)

As a beginner, I’m going to stick to using my Project Life core kits. I ordered the Seafoam kit this year and I have the Turquoise core kit from last year. I’m giving myself permission to mix these kits (this is big for me!) and let my pages evolve over the course of the year.

I’m also giving myself permission to be a beginner in terms of photography. One of the side benefits I’m hoping to gain from this project is improving my photography skills. But for now, I’m okay with being a beginner. As silly as this may sound, I have repeated “be a beginner” to myself many times in these first five weeks of Project Life. It is incredibly freeing. You’ve gotta’ walk before you can run.roadblock road sign

Obstacle #2: I don’t have time for this project.

Solution #2: Schedule time for Project Life.

Here’s what I know for sure: The stuff that gets done in life is the stuff we carve out time for. Last year, I didn’t stake a claim to specific blocks of time to do all the steps involved in Project Life, from downloading, editing, printing and picking up photos each week, to assembling the finished pages.

This project isn’t something I could simply fit into the cracks in my schedule. It needs a spot—just like laundry, cleaning the house and grocery shopping. And that’s a good thing! Project Life is way more fun than laundry, cleaning the house, grocery shopping and other mundane but necessary chores of life. It’s really energizing to have this new appointment with myself on my calendar. It’s something I look forward to.

My project Life weeks run Monday through Sunday. (I started on Monday, December 31.) My plan is to download photos weekly (on Sundays) and then edit photos every other Sunday (on weekends when we don’t have Sunday dinner with my in-laws.) So far this hasn’t gone per plan for various reasons (i.e. the “surprise” Super Bowl game last Sunday.) But here’s the thing: by carving out time to do this, even if it didn’t happen exactly when I planned, I still made it a priority and found time to do it. I edited and printed week 4 and 5 photos last night…a day late, but it still happened.

Originally I had also planned to assemble my finished pages on Sunday. Instead, I’m doing that on week nights throughout the week, on at-home evenings. This is my favorite part of the project, so it “fitting it in” isn’t a problem. (The problem is choosing laundry and other necessary tasks over Project Life. But no one has gone naked or hungry yet. ;))roadblock road sign

Obstacle #3: I don’t want Project Life to take away from my family time.

Solution #3: Fit Project Life into our lives.

One of the things that tripped me up last year was that I didn’t want Project Life to become something that caused me to spend less time with my family. Even though many days I work out of my home, I work full time and when I’m at work, I’m not with my kids. They’re at school or upstairs doing their thing while I’m down stairs doing mine.

The solution was to figure out how to fit Project Life into my life without stealing from family time. I decided to set up a Project Life organizing hub with all my tools and supplies in our family room by re-purposing an old computer desk. The family room is where life happens, so it makes a lot of sense. This way I can work on Project Life and be with my family which is a total win-win. (I’ll show you the full set-up in the Part 2 post later this week.)

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Obstacle #4: I didn’t have a system.

Solution #4: Create some simple organizing systems that make Project Life easy to do.

And that’s what I did—I created some simple systems to make Project Life easy to fit into my life. I’ll share the details in the Part 2 post coming up soon. :)

If you do Project Life, what obstacles have you encountered? What solutions have you put in place to navigate around them? Thanks for sharing!

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Aby Garvey is a creative organizing expert and simplify 101’s founder. She has created 14 online organizing classes, which she has been teaching since 2007, helping thousands of people around the world get organized. Aby loves to help people create positive change in their lives through her online classes and organizing eBooks.

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