It’s no secret that I am a champion procrastinator. I get distracted easily, and I frequently multi-task – which is another way of saying doing lots of things not very well. However I’ve always been deadline driven. At school I was the one who would waste half my study time drawing up study timetables and then cram at the last minute when I realised the exams were looming. I don’t think many life coaches would recommend this approach, but it seems to work for me. More or less. Just google “procrastination quotes” and you’ll see what the world thinks about procrastination. I don’t recommend procrastination as a lifestyle choice, and I never wake up in the morning and decide “Today I will procrastinate”. However, it just keeps happening.

< Just checking Instagram, back in a minute >

Anyway, what was I saying? Oh, right, procrastination.

I think what saves me from being completely useless is that I seem to respond well to deadlines. I get things done when they need to be done. I’m even sometimes ahead of schedule – but that’s only because I trick myself into thinking there’s an earlier deadline. I seem to need the pressure of a limited time frame to produce the level of concentration and dedication needed to complete tasks. While some people get anxious and therefore less effective as the time slips by, I become focussed and driven and do some of my best work.

My digi-scrapping tends to follow the same pattern. I do have lots of finished, printed projects, but I have LOTS of unfinished projects too. I just get so excited  when I have new photos to scrapbook that I jump in and start the next project before the last one was finished. I will finish them all eventually, because there’s nothing better than seeing your books in hard copy and holding them in your hands. But sometimes when I even think about all that needs doing, I just have to go and make a cup of tea. So when I decided to try to finish my current project in time to order it and have it at Forever Live

< I’m back. Just had to check the score in the cricket >

As I was saying, when I decided to try to finish my current project in time to order it and have it at Forever Live I knew I would need to be a lot more organised and proactive than I usually am. Surprisingly, it’s working! Who knew that having a plan and sticking to task could be so effective? In case you are like me and struggle to complete projects I thought I would share what I have done and you might see something you can apply to your own scrapbook planning.

My project is about the Danube River cruise my husband Keith and I took in June with my Dad and his partner. It was only a week, so you would think there wouldn’t be that many photos, but we packed it in and saw lots every day. I blogged about it a couple of months ago, and I have stuck to my intentions of keeping the pages simple and sticking to limited fonts and art kits. But despite that it was a slow process. I needed a plan. The problem was, I had no idea how many pages I would need for this album, so I had no way of assessing my progress, or know whether getting it done in time for Forever Live was a realistic goal. So I had to act. Here is what I did.

  1. I wrote down a list of places we had been with a rough plan of which photos would go on each page.
  2. I went through my photos, day by day. I tagged them with each location. I deleted the bad, blurry and boring photos, and I gave 5 stars to the ones I planned to include in the album.
  3. I uploaded the 5 star images to my Forever account, for safekeeping. My photos are on my small laptop I use when I’m travelling, but I scrapbook usually on my desktop computer with its lovely big screens. So instead of transferring images from one computer to the other, I can access them in my Forever account from either computer.
  4. This is the key step. I planned out the whole album. I worked out (or guessed) how many pages I would need for each location, and added a text shape to each page with the name of that location. This works because
    1. I know how many pages I will need to complete per day to have a realistic chance of making my deadline.
    2. I can scrapbook pages out of order. Sometimes I just know a p2P challenge or Blueprint will be perfect for particular photos, so I’ll create that page. That’s OK, but after a while I end up with a bunch of somewhat random pages I need to organise. Not any more. Now I can go to that page in my project, complete my page, and then get back to where I was up to and continue without causing confusion.
    3. I can see my progress in a very tangible way.
    4. I have broken down a daunting big task (complete an album) into manageable small tasks (complete a double page spread)
  5. In my Forever account, my photos are arranged in albums. One album called “Danube Rive Cruise”, and inside that, an album for each town or city we visited. Having culled the photos on my laptop, I still end up with more than I’ll use in my album. So I then go through the photos in my Forever account. I know which pages I’m doing next, so I choose the photos from that place that I plan to use on the next double page spread and tag them with the tag “1111”. I use that tag because 1111 will always be at the top of the list, so when I import those images into Artisan, it’s quick and easy to find just the ones I want. No need for scrolling through tiny thumbnails trying to remember which photos I needed for that layout.
  6. I open the page in Artisan that I’m ready to work on, and pull the photos tagged 1111 directly into the photo panel from my Forever account. I only bring in enough pages for one double page spread at a time.
  7. When that page is finished I share it to my Forever account, and I usually also save it as a jpeg to share to Facebook.
  8. I remove the 1111 tag from those photos and then repeat steps 5-7 for the next topic.

This is what my album looked like on August 21, when I took this screenshot. Around the halfway mark.  You can see the labels on the blank pages, and also some notes I left for myself on a few unfinished pages. There are a few blanks pages at the end – the beauty of this system is its flexibility. I can easily squeeze in an extra page here and there if I need to, and the blanks are easy to remove if I don’t need them.


I’m liking this system so much I’m going to use it from now on. To be honest I’m not sure I will get this book done in time, between working full time, having visitors from overseas and planning to travel to the US myself, but I’m going to give it my best shot. And if I don’t make it, that’s fine, because I will finish it soon after I get back, and a finished album is the main goal.

If you see me at Forever Live, say hi! Ask me to show you my completed, printed album.





Share →

24 Responses to Blog: Planning ahead

  1. Donna Pullan says:

    This is a great! I do something similiar…plus it makes it sooooo much easier when it’s time to actually do the book. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Cindy Rold says:

    So did you finish by Forever Live?

    • Shelley says:

      I didn’t. I came close though, so I’ll be ordering it soon! Work and life and travel got in the way, but I’m happy with the progress I made. It was always an optimistic goal! 🙂

      • Jamie Schumacher says:

        Will you have it at Live 2017?
        I swear I could have written this myself. I’m over here now trying to figure out how to move page over to a new project since I won’t be able to cram all of 2016 in one album. Already at 74 pages and its the end of June…

        • Shelley says:

          I won’t be coming to Forever LIVE this year sadly. I wrote this blog before Forever LIVE in 2016! I’m a bit embarrassed to admit I still haven’t actually finished this project. It has ended up in 2 volumes, and it is very close to finished now!

  3. sistersunshine says:

    Shelley, Peace & joy. I just helped someone finish THEIR Danube River Cruise book… wish your book had been done so I could have ‘borrowed’ layout ideas from it… I have to tell you I do that a LOT. LOL My thought is why reinvent the wheel when someone else has made it so easy. *U* Kathleen

  4. Suzy Dust says:

    There are some great tips in here I want to incorporate in my planning. I organize and plan for a living, but somehow don’t translate that to my scrapbooking! How did you get the full screen shot of your pages? When I expand the panel, I can only see the first 40 or so pages, not all of them.

    • Shelley says:

      Right at the bottom of the pages panel there’s a little button that allows you to change the size of the page preview. To capture all those pages I set it to the smallest size.

  5. Kristeen says:

    Love this! I started using OneNote on my phone when I am traveling to take notes and since the notes are in the cloud when I am at my desk I can save challenges, kit thumbnails or other tips in the same notebook as I put things together in my mind. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Jan B says:


    Thank you for sharing this. I have loved watching you work on this project and to learn how you laid it out. I did much the same with my Ecuador album, but I skipped putting the photos in Forever. I created a planning album in Historian and added journalling cards at the beginning of each new event or location. So, then I work from journalling card to journalling card. I have just started uploading my completed pages to my Forever account. I was really surprised how many minor fixes I saw that I had not seen while in the Artisian program. Wish I was attending Forever Live (have a conflict with another conference. Would love to meet you.

    • Shelley says:

      That’s a great idea about the journaling cards! And I’m with you about the errors – I’m sure they only appear after the pages get uploaded!
      I’m sorry you can’t make it to Forever Live – hopefully next year!

  7. Jan says:

    Hahahaha – I can relate! My process is somewhat similar, just not as planned out! I know that is a surprise to you…can’t wait to see your book. Then I will do mine!

  8. ANN LARRABEE says:

    i’m going to try your plan as I like to be organized and it will keep me on task

  9. mindys7 says:

    My VERY first digital book was of our Danube River Cruise! It was such an amazing trip! I had it printed at CM in leather and still love that dear book as it brings back the memories of a whirl wind trip. I SO wish I was going to Forever Live to see your book.
    This is exactly what I do to plan out my albums too. It helps SO much! Now…just need to get SO many pages done!

  10. Alison says:

    So helpful Shelley! Love that your plan takes into account how you work – so much better than a plan that’s not realistic. Your album is going to be amazing when it’s done.

  11. Karen says:

    Am I distracted or a procrastinator? I’m not sure, but probably both. I have many projects of my own started and not finished as a clients project always come first and always with a deadline which is always met. Good thing I keep a notebook with ideas of for each my projects as I can go back and see my notes on what I had planned on a project. Like you Shelley, I also have pages with what is coming next in my book. Love blueprints as they help me fill in the blanks quickly.

  12. Sandy says:

    If I didn’t now better I would think that this was written by me while I was working on my Peru book. There were so many “squirrel moments” that kept pulling me away from working on it that I didn’t think I was going to get it done by the deadline I had set. (The hardest part was finding out I ordered the first two copies the day before the sale started.) I am now working on finishing up a couple other projects that are almost done, before I start on others. That is giving me the incentive for completing them because I REALLY want to work on the new ones. But for now I think I hear a snack calling my name…. I’ll be back soon.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.