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How to Finish the Year with Finesse | Part 2

In Part 1 of this series, I introduced the idea that a combination of mindfulness and planning can help you finish the year with finesse. We focused on a set of steps to gain focus and clarity:

  1. Celebrate your victories.
  2. Take a snapshot inventory.
  3. Clear your plate.
  4. Focus on next actions.

How to Finish the Year with Finesse

In this post we’ll bookend that discussion, as I teach you how to plan the last three months of the year. All too often, the momentum of planning we create at the beginning of the year has long fizzled by October. I’ll show you how to get that back!

Note: You can look at this exercise with more than just scrapbooking in mind. It’s your call.

Step 1. Estimate your time. Look at a calendar and pencil in the times you are likely to scrapbook or do scrapbook-related tasks. It’s important to be realistic, with a hopeful edge.

Look at every week day and weekend between now and January 1st. Think about your current habits and what that time of year looked like last time around. Take a good guess and pencil in 30 minutes here and 3 hours there.

This activity will give you a reasonable time budget, a general sense of how much time left in 2014 you have to scrapbook. Plus, making appointments for yourself now will make these estimates more likely to happen!

Step 2. Choose one big thing. With a context of time in mind, I suggest choosing one big thing to be the focus of your attention. This is not the time to spread yourself thin.

Consider whether that is a project you want to finish or one you’re itching to start. While I’m not saying you can’t do other things, you should select one activity as your priority.

Your time budget will give you a clue as to whether you’ll have just enough time for this one thing or you’ll have extra for something else.

Step 3. List essential tasks. The spaces around your big thing will be filled with everyday, almost non-negotiable, tasks. Activities like photo processing and backing up fit in this category.

Failing to include these “little” tasks (which actually add up), is one of the biggest reasons that plans fall apart. When you take on too many big things, there’s no time left for rest.

And the thing is, these activities are the ones that also contribute the most to memory keeping. After all, you need photos to scrapbook!

What’s your “one big thing” for the rest of the year? Leave a comment and share what scrapbook activity you will focus on between now and 2015.

P.S. If you would like help focusing on your one big thing, you’ll want to stick around. At the end of this month I’m opening registration for a 100% free community activity, the Holiday Focus Circle.


What Happens in Vegas | Simple Scrapbook Layout

My husband’s best friend just retired and had never been on a plane before. Early this year we put plans in motion for a couples getaway to Las Vegas. The dates were specifically planned for after Stash Bash, the perfect time for a break.

I love to pack light when I travel by air, so I did not bring my big camera. I also didn’t get an iPhone 6 yet because I would totally be the one to crack the screen on her new iPhone by goofing off in Vegas.

While my husband took a ton of random, grainy photos with his phone, I curated a small selection of iconic and personal images on Instagram. I’ve been to Vegas before, so I wanted to relax and be in the moment on this adventure.

I do have one traditional layout from this trip on my to-do list, but this simple pocket page otherwise captures the trip for me. I had a life-changing lightbulb moment at the Bellagio fountain in 2006 and this trip helped me that story full circle.

What Happens in Vegas | Simple Scrapbook Layout

I printed 12 square photos at 2.5×2.5 and used one of two styles in a set of 6×8 page protectors from Studio Calico. I love a simple photo collage and will be punching a new hole so I can insert this into my 2014 album.

The images are roughly chronological, from our overnight stay in Chicago to leaving Las Vegas. We ate, we drank, we walked around. We went to bed at a reasonable hour. It was just what I needed after a big event.


Using photo-heavy or all-photo pocket pages is one way I keep my scrapbooking simple. It helps me record the facts visually, giving me more time for sharing my feelings on traditional layouts.


How to Finish the Year with Finesse | Part 1

How is it that in September it feels like there’s so much time left in the year, but when October rolls around the panic sets in? Your mind begins swirling with everything you still want to accomplish, but the path is blocked by plans for holiday after holiday.

I know this, because I feel it too. While I’m well-organized and consistent with layouts, I’m barely treading water on photo management and Project Life. I’m also already thinking about all the things still to come, which is distracting.

It may feel daunting but you can get a lot done before the end of the year. A combination of mindfulness and planning will help you finish the year with finesse… or as they say on Peppa Pig, with grace and beauty.

How to Finish the Year with Finesse

In this post we’ll tackle how to approach the last three months of the year, with a focus on your mindset. How you think about finishing is half the battle. Then next week I’ll return with Part 2 and we’ll take the next steps with planning.

Note: You can look at this exercise with more than just scrapbooking in mind. It’s your call.

Step 1. Celebrate your victories. Your mind is unsettled, in part, because you’re focusing only on what’s undone. When you take time to identify, record, and celebrate your achievements (big and small), you’ll feel your mind open and your heart soften.

I like to keep a running list throughout the year of milestones met and projects completed, but don’t sweat it if you’ve not done that. Write it down on paper, in an Instagram caption, on Facebook – anywhere – to set the tone for the next three months.

In other words, remember that you rock!

Step 2. Take a snapshot inventory. The balance of that uneasy feeling stems from having the big picture out of focus. You can’t begin to feel in control of your time without a clear view on what you want to achieve. A “brain dump” is the first step.

Our free Quick Start guide includes a simple exercise to help you list and prioritize the projects and activities you’re working on. It provides helpful clarity and a foundation for getting things done.

Don’t stress about being exhaustive, simply start with what’s in your head and give yourself permission to add to your list as you remember other items.

Step 3. Clear your plate. Not being realistic about your time, motivation, and energy to make progress is the fastest way to burn out and frustration. In all likelihood you can’t get everything done before the end of the year.

And that’s OK.

When you eliminate any ideas or obligations that can wait until 2015, you can start fresh right now. Next week I’ll share some ideas for re-building your plate with what matters most, but for now I have one more step that will keep your mind at ease.

Step 4. Focus on next actions. Many of us are household managers, so it’s normal and natural to always be thinking ahead. Unfortunately, you can get in your way by mentally existing in that future time instead of the right now.

The trick is being able to return your mind to the present day. Yes there will be lots to do later, but what do you most need to do today?

When I get stuck in a loop of brainstorming and pre-planning (often with a touch of anxiety), I force myself to pause and think about what’s important right now. Focus on the concrete actions you can take right now to make progress. Often those tasks have nothing to do with what you’ve been thinking about!

Do you get in your own way at the end of the year? Leave a comment and share your experience with getting things done during the last three months of the year.


Community Show & Tell

Each month our team works with the new membership materials to create inspiring layout examples. You can see their layouts in the monthly team gallery.

Community Show & Tell at Simple Scrapper

To celebrate each month’s gallery reveal, we’re hosting a Community Show & Tell.

You’re invited to join this monthly event by sharing something of yours. It can be any scrapbooking or card project you’ve recently finished and want to share.

Welcome to the Show & Tell

P.S. Don’t forget to leave some love in the form of a comment when you visit other blogs and to pin your favorites!


Call for New Team Members

We are so excited to announce a call for additional Simple Scrapper team members! Simple Scrapper creative team members are an essential and valued part of our family. They work with sketch templates and page prompts and contribute to the blog on topics related to our mission of scrapbooking productivity.

Call for New Team Members

Our team members receive a free premium membership, including full access to our creative library.  Here are just a few examples of past sketch templates that are typical of the Simple Scrapper design style.


Our Ideal Team Member

  • Values storytelling and meaningful memory keeping
  • Is a paper or digital scrapbooker (either or both)
  • Enjoys working with sketches or templates and story prompts
  • Can commit to 2-3 layouts per month & 1 blog post per term
  • Loves the Simple Scrapper brand and is excited to help promote it
  • Is eager to contribute to our community of simple scrapbookers
  • Can commit to a 6 month term

How to Apply

We would love to consider you for a spot on our team! To apply, please complete our online application. All applications must be in by midnight EST on October 20, 2014. We are planning to make decisions about who will join us by November 1, 2014.