Pocket Scrapbooking with Project Life

Cultivate a good life and record it.



project life – alena honeycutt’s creative process

Molly here! One aspect of my job is to oversee our Creative Team, which is so much fun! Just one week ago we introduced you to a brand new Creative Team and we couldn’t be more excited for them to begin this journey. That doesn’t mean we have to totally forget about our 2016 team. Today on the blog Alena Honeycutt is sharing her Project Life® process with us. She’s really gotten her process down to a science and I think you will love what she has to share!

Hey everyone! Some of my very favorite blog posts to read are about other people’s Project Life process, organization, and work space. So today I’m going to share some of mine with you.

A little background . . . I started traditional, old-school scrapbooking in 1997 when I was 15 years old. I fell in love with it from the start. Documenting with photos, notes, and stories, using (“collecting”) pretty product has always been my very favorite thing to do. Back before kids and married life, I would spend the entire day either by myself or with friends, stuff spread out everywhere, loving every minute of it. By the time I looked through all my stickers, paper, and embellishments, figured out my layout and then sometimes starting all over again, sometimes I didn’t get a whole lot accomplished, but I had fun. Back then, I had all that time to spend, but fast-forward several years, a husband and two kids later, not so much.

I made the switch to Project Life in 2010 with the Clementine Core Kit and haven’t looked back. It’s SO much faster, easier, less “stuff,” and it gets. it. done . . . which is the whole point, right?!? It’s such a good feeling to have my photos off my phone and computer and into albums that my kids, myself, family, and friends can enjoy.

We have two boys, so I work on 12×12 albums for each of them. They are just ongoing albums and chronological (as much as possible). They include big events and everyday moments (my favorite!) and just anything I want them or myself to know or remember about their childhood. I do separate 12×12 albums for school stuff. The main reason I keep those separate is because when the time comes for their graduation party (waahhh!), I can easily pull out those books to display without having to go through their regular books looking for layouts. Beginning with the end in mind. ☺ I really wish I would have heard Becky say that phrase “Begin with the end in mind” when I started scrapbooking years ago because right now I have quite a few scrapbooks — 50-ish including mini albums. But that means tons of memories and photos of things I don’t want to forget so I’m ok with that.

I am a physical Project Lifer for the most part, but I also love to use the app. Today I’m going to show you how I go from photos on my phone and computer, to finished pages with the physical product. My process includes pre-planning my layouts, which saves me time in the long run. I’ve switched my process several times over the years, but right now, this is what’s working best for me.

Here’s how I do it:


This part can be hard or overwhelming for some people. My best advice is don’t over-think it.

I organize all of my photos, iPhone, and DSLR in monthly folders within Lightroom.

Anytime I import photos, I quickly go through and delete any that I know I will never print or need.

When I’m ready to choose which photos I want to print, I make a Collection for that specific month & child, for example: 2016-10-Miller (my son’s name). Then I go to my monthly folder, shown above, and select the photos I’m most likely going to print and then drag them into my Collection.

Now that my favorites are all in one place, it’s time for my next step.


This next step can take a little time, but in the long run, it makes it so much easier.

I used to just order the photos I thought I would want for my albums, but when they arrived, I spent so much time trying to figure out how to fit them in and always ended up with a lot of unused prints. I like them to be in chronological order as much as possible, so it seriously took forever and it stressed me out. Not good. Stressful is the last thing this hobby should be!

So, I started pre-planning my layouts. Game-changer for me.

I use a legal pad, one for each album I’m working on. I glance over the photos in my Lightroom Collection and then draw a small sketch of the layout I think will work best. I use a lot of Design A, but I definitely like to mix it up. Then I write a word or two that describes which photos will be on this layout.

I also jot down any memorabilia I have and may want to add as well as notes about things I might want to include when journaling later on.

When I’ve decided for sure which photos I’m using, I export them to a folder on my desktop.

It may seem like a lot of work to pre-plan pages, but it ends up saving me a ton of time. Plus, I actually enjoy this part of the process.


Because I want to include as many photos as I can, I love printing 4×6 as well as 3×4 photos. And since I’ve already planned my layouts, I know which photos need to be which size. I use the free Project Life Photoshop Elements template for printing two 3x4s on a 4×6. Using my sketch and notes as a guide, I open the photos that need to be made into 3x4s and do that now. When that is finished, I upload and order prints.


When my prints arrive, the real fun begins. Since I took the time up front to plan out my pages, I don’t even have to take time to figure that out.

I like to “batch” when I’m working on my albums, which means I insert all of my photos, usually month’s worth, before moving on to choosing cards and journaling. 

I also like to work with my page protectors actually in the album. This keeps me from having to go back later and try to find where they are supposed to go.

I pull out my (messy) legal pad with my layout sketches, see which design of photo pocket page I need, put it in my album and then insert the photos. I put a big X on my sketch after I’ve added the photos so I know it’s not missing anything.

After all photos are in place, I choose the cards! There are so many cute cards to choose from. But, just like when I choose photos, I try not to overthink it. I generally will have an idea of which kit I want to pull cards from, but I’m a big fan of mixing it up and using cards from different kits on the same layout.


After the photos and cards are in place, now I can focus my mind on the journaling. If I had to pick a least favorite part of the process, it’s probably this, only because of the time it takes and it hurts my hand. ;) BUT, when I’m looking back at albums, I am SO happy that I took the time to do it.

Here are some things I do that help me out when it comes time to journal.

1. I keep a Word document on my computer where I occasionally type things about what’s going on with the kids, things they do and say, their current favorites, etc. I started doing this when our oldest was born and it’s probably my best tip. I don’t actually write in a journal, although I do want to start doing that soon, so this is the next best thing. There are so many things that I find on that Word document when it comes time to journal in my albums that I would have totally forgotten about if I didn’t take those few minutes to type it up.

2. I use Notes on my iPhone when I’m not near my computer. I use the voice to text and it’s a quick way to document things my boys say and then add it to my Word document later.

3. If I post to Facebook about my kids, sometimes I’ll copy and paste it into Word.

4. Another favorite thing I do is screenshot text messages & Facebook posts and either print a photo or better yet, drop it into a layout in the app. You could also just copy the text to a journaling card, but I like the idea of being able to look back one day and see what a text message or Facebook post actually looked like.

These were some of the comments people posted on Facebook when we announced we were having our second baby. I did this for our oldest son too, and I think it will be so fun to look back at some day.

My favorite way to use Project Life is with the physical product. But, as I mentioned, the app is also awesome! I’ve used it several different ways and I love mixing app prints right in with my physical pages.

Here are a few examples:

BEFORE the app, I would spend hours making these layouts in Photoshop with my favorite Instagram photos for the month. Took forever.

With the app, I can easily whip up a layout with my favorites. Such a time-saver and so much cuter too!

Full vacation pages done even before returning home.

Probably my most favorite way to use it: School papers & projects photographed with my phone and popped into an app layout. Then the originals are tossed in the trash.

This is a 12×12 layout from the app and I was able to include a full book of animal drawings that my son brought home from school. Perfect!

I also love to see where people create. I’ve been fortunate enough to have some sort of space for my scrapbooking every place we have lived. I’ve had full rooms, the entryway in our apartment, corner of the living room in another apartment, shared scrapbook room/guest room, which is what my current set up is. And in our last house, my space was actually in the laundry room.

The awesome thing about Project Life is you don’t NEED a whole room, but it is nice to have some space to spread out.

Here’s a peek at my current setup when my desk was clean enough for a photo. 

My desk is the Trestle Desk from Target. I’ve had it since about 2007, but I checked and surprisingly they still sell this same one, in black, online.

I keep my cards sorted by kit in the Ikea Antonius clear basket inserts. I just keep them on the shelves of my desk and pull out the one I need.

I like to keep my pages pretty simple, but I do like to embellish from time to time and I use this big IKEA Algot tray and for smaller items, the trays that the Project Life Core Kits come in are perfect storage.

Well there you have it. Thanks for sticking with me until the end. I hope you have found some new ideas and are encouraged to maybe try pre-planning your pages and see how you like it. Have a great day!

Alena Honeycutt was a member of the 2016 Creative Team using the Physical Product. She currently resides in Oklahoma with her husband and sons.

Connect with Alena :: Instagram


15 Responses

  1. Sara says:

    I love your process for getting it all done, Alena. Batching your work definitely seems to help get it done quicker and I love the idea of sketching your layout before printing. I have wasted so many pictures when I was a physical scrapbooker by not having an idea of what I wanted the finish layout to look like.

  2. Hello, loved your story. What is the app that you mentioned? Where is the Lightroom? I want to try some of the things you have done. I am so behind with my scrapbooking🙁 Thank you, Kimber

    • Alena says:

      Hey Kimber! It’s actually software I use on my computer for organizing and editing my photos, Adobe Lightroom. They may have a free trial on adobe.com if you want to try it out. 🙂

  3. Angela H says:

    The whole time I read this, I was nodding my head in agreement becausebibdonalmost the exact same way! I love the app template to fit 2 3×4’s as one 4×6. Kind of exciting to see someone else do a similar process. Thanks for sharing!!

  4. Elizabeth Martinez says:

    I love the note about texts and Facebook! I did that for my youngest son in this scrapbook I did for graduation. It is so fun to look back in the things they said and the medium they used :)

  5. Katie Plotts says:

    I do something similar expect I rename the pictures in my folders, like the picture would be named 1-1L (Page 1 the top left landscape picture) also if it is a 2×3 size I will add a plus sign to the end. Then I will print a page will all of the pictures and names so when the pictures are printed out all I have to do is look at the sheet to put them in order. I do all of my albums in physical pages but I’m paranoid about losing them due to a fire or flood so I also make the pages in the app and back them up to the cloud.

  6. Lori M says:

    So I’m not the only “crazy one” who does the planning pages? That makes its SO much easier when my prints come back. I do a very similar process, though I have to admit, I’ve been using the app a lot lately. Just so much going on the past couple of months and the app gets it done fast. Love to see your process and I’ll be tweaking a few parts of mine.

  7. Lissa says:

    Thanks for this post- I enjoyed the read. I too have a similar process from camera to PL Layout in album and although I have a rough idea of what photos will go where on my pages, I don’t actually ‘sketch’ it up beforehand. Yes that does mean I do have a few extra photos printed each time but I like to play around with the layout & photos with them physically in front of me to get the look I’m aiming for. I wouldn’t concider any extra prints as a waste as I believe all photos are precious (especially when you can hold them and off the computer/phone) and I put my ‘extras’ into flip albums for each of my kids so that they have a chronological collection of photos from birth that they can take with them when they leave home to keep as is or scrap/project life them for themselves if they choose too. They may not all be ‘perfect’ but sometimes the ‘candid shots’ are my favourites and my kids enjoy looking through their own just as much as they enjoy my finished albums. Yes I too wish I had discovered PL a lot earlier although at times struggle to get the desired products here in Australia. I have been doing it since 2012- I absolutely love it! ❤️

  8. Shifrah says:

    May I suggest using the Print module in Lightroom to print your 3x4s (and other sizes tht aren’t 4×6)? Then you won’t have to go into Photoshop. I have it set up so I can just select the photos and the Print module fills in with my 3x4s onto a 4×6. Huge time-saver. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Stephanie Sellers says:

    What a great idea to screenshot Facebook posts/comments! I print off Instagram pics all the time, but just the post itself. Now I’ll be sure to print comments so I’ll have a record of those wacky things the tech-challenged grandparents say in Instagram when they think they are only texting a message to me or my kids. Sometimes those quick, in-the-moment comments perfectly and completely showcase that person’s personality…. probably much better than my own journaling could have memorialized them later on.

  10. Deidre Donovan says:

    I started pre planning my pages when my discard pile was HUGE and I was just thinking what a waste of money it was. BUT by the time the prints come I have forgotten what I planned, because I just do it in my head. So genius to do it on a legal pad and keep it. I feel like that is so DUH, I should be doing that. brilliant

  11. Laura G. says:

    I love reading how other PLers approach their scrapping! I print up a month of photos at a time then separate them by date with bookmarks with the date on them…then I start putting them in pockets..most of my 4×6’s can b trimmed down if I need them to be…sometimes I’ll put 2 4×6’s side by side on my printer to get a couple of 3×4’s…the photos I don’t use go in a box for my granddaughters to use…I have a file box near my scrap table and 12 folders to put receipts, programs,etc. in…I check that before starting my photo printing..
    Sometimes I feel like just printing a lot of photos..they go in an recipe box with dividers with the date on them. I check that before starting to print up a month of photos.
    I have been trying hard not print up every photo, but ones that will tell the story.
    I use PL to get my photos scrapped, not necessarily as a day to day account of our lives.

  12. Liz Parsons says:

    Thanks for sharing your process.Here in NZ a fan of yours a scrapbooking friend of mine,passed your words of wisdom on “scrapbook with an end in mind”.this has helped me to be realistic about what I can achieve and enjoy the crafting at the same time.like the desk ideas recycle

  13. Starla says:

    I totally love the idea of a planning page; I keep a list, but I never thought of drawing out my layouts early. Also, I have two grown boys, and the youngest is named Miller, my maiden name. :)

  14. Carrie Kelleher says:

    So helpful! That was wonderful. I have one question – where can I get the free Project Life Photoshop Elements template? I don’t have Photoshop installed on my computer yet but it’s my Feb project and I’d love that template! Thanks!