How to Stop Feeling Behind

by | Feb 7, 2014 | Productivity Advice, Projects & Processes | 26 comments

We have all felt it. We have been weighed down by it. We sometimes even let it really get to us.


And this isn’t run of the mill guilt, it’s one that is unique to scrapbookers. It’s the guilt of feeling behind.

No matter when you start scrapbooking, you are instantly behind. There’s always so much life that came before this moment, this month, this year.

Almost four years ago I blogged about letting go of feeling behind, where I said:

It’s not so much letting go of the feeling behind that is necessary, but changing your definition of caught up.

I believe this to be true today, but there are hard-to-ignore facts.

We live life chronologically. We know what has been scrapbooked and what hasn’t. There can be gaps in the record that simultaneously feel both essential and impossible to fill.

While I am constantly working on the emotional side of this issue, of ignoring and releasing that guilt, I also attempt to satisfy it.

It is in this quest to stop feeling behind where simple scrapbooking has been my true ally.

Whenever I feel behind, I ask myself one question: What is the simplest project that will satisfy this need?

When you begin to think holistically about catching up and become project-focused, you open a huge door of opportunity.

But it’s when you add the context of simplicity that all those opportunities become possible.

You can stop feeling behind and start catching up.

You can document four years of life in with a mini book.

And then do it all again for the next two years.

You can document a whole year in twelve monthly pages. 

You can document a decade of participation in one single layout.

You can document one single week with a photo collage.

You can document trips to your favorite place with a photo + memorabilia album.

You can document an entire pregnancy and childbirth with a hybrid mini album.

You can document a year of life in eight framed photos…

or a decade of travel in nine. 

You can document your baby’s first year with pockets and layouts…

or your own first thirty.

It all counts.


Did you find this post helpful?

We believe simple is not how your page looks, but how your scrapbooking hobby works. We have a free workshop called SPARKED and it is the best way to learn more about Simple Scrapper and start creating consistently.


  1. Jessica Marshall

    Thank you for showing me that I can document my son’s first year in 8 photos. I have felt guilty all year because I have done a much better job at taking monthly pictures this time around with my second child. I will now pull out the photos of my oldest and document with what I have. Anything is better then nothing!

    • Jennifer Wilson

      Yes Jessica! It all counts. So glad this was helpful!

  2. DragonsLady

    The only time I really feel behind is when I see all the photographs I have in boxes waiting for me to do something with. But, I do have a plan and at this moment I’m still following it. That helps. Plus what really helped was remembering that time is an artificial construct that man proposed to keep everything from happening all at once. It’s a little like gravity – you can’t see it, can’t touch it, can’t smell or taste it – but it’s there. Yes, I’m getting a little sci-fi/ theoretical physics on you. I’m hungry, that’ my excuse.

    • Jennifer Wilson

      Hopefully you’ve eaten now! But you do have a good point. The flip side though, is if you spend too much time thinking about the REALLY big picture it can be a little disorienting.

  3. MaidenMouse

    Something I do to not feel behind, is remind myself that if something is important enough for me to make a page for – I’ll still remember it later. It allows me to relax about not staying entirely on top of my current scrapbooking, as well as allowing me to not worry about the previous events, years, etc. that I wasn’t doing this.

    • Jennifer Wilson

      That’s a great point, thanks for sharing!

  4. Gypsy

    Love this: “We live life chronologically. We know what has been scrapbooked and what hasn’t. There can be gaps in the record that simultaneously feel both essential and impossible to fill.” Totally sums the feeling up! Great solutions too- thanks Jennifer!

    • Jennifer Wilson

      Most welcome Gypsy!

  5. Carol Eason

    Jennifer, I am totally starting this year with focus as you have helped me to be specific in what scrapbooking I will do. I have already made 3 mini-flip albums since the start of this year.
    One is for a new baby- expected by my ‘overdue’ friend, one for my Aunt turning 90 in 3 weeks, and then while all my pink stuff was out I made an extra ‘ New BABY Girl’ album’ to have on hand. Turns out a friend of my daughter delivered a baby girl yesterday so it has a destination already.

    (Also with help from your newsletters, I have totally re-done my craft corner organization to fit my style of scrapbooking, and have scrapbooked two double page scrapbook layouts (12×12, and 8×8) that are now awaiting photos of my one year old grandson.
    CHeers, You are so awesomely meeting the busy scrapbooker’s needs. THANKS, Carol

    • Jennifer Wilson

      You are doing awesome Carol. Thanks for sharing your progress!

  6. Terri-Lynn Torrez

    What is that shadow box thing in the lower left of your title picture? Have you shown that before. It’s gorgeous.

    • Jennifer Wilson

      Thanks! There is a set of step-by-step instructions in our membership area, along with 20+ other projects.

    • Caroline

      I was admiring that, too! 🙂

  7. Terri-Lynn Torrez

    I stopped feeling “behind” after reading Stacy Julian’s Big Picture; there’s a great essay in there from Cathy Zielske on “caught up”. Moving to Stacy’s Library of Memories system really helped. Then I started Project Life and “behind” became a way of life again. I really love the results of PL but I couldn’t do it any way that didn’t leave me feeling like my scrapbooking was a major item on my To Do list. After two years (one completed, one not) I decided to give it up, at least for now.

    • Jennifer Wilson

      I see that happening a lot with the weekly approach to PL, but I do feel that pockets more generally are a way to get more scrapbooked and satisfy needs to have this or that captured.

      One example that wasn’t relevant to this post is that my husband really wants all the events scrapbooked but I don’t like to make layouts about those. So I stick the photos in pockets and this year am considering handing him the journal cards. (Just discussed it and he’s game!)

      • Terri-Lynn Torrez

        I agree on the pocket scrapbooking. My family was very involved in Project Life and really loved it. That’s why we had a family meeting when I considered dropping it. But it really came down to, I just wasn’t enjoying it anymore.

        I’m ditching some other commitments this spring – last year running the school fundraiser. Then I really hope to do some more storytelling layouts this year. We’ll see where we after that.

  8. Helen

    Jennifer, what a fantastic post! I totally relate to this – when I discovered scrapbooking I wanted to scrap every photo I had already got! I also started taking loads more photos – which just meant lots more backlog! Over the years I have learned to simplity my scrapping, I now only scrap what I consider to be the most important stuff, the rest goes into ordinary photo albums. I still have photos I want to scrap, but I dont feel as overwhelmed as I did now that I have a plan of what I want to do. One other thing I think is worth mentioning, the very first scrapbook class that I went to, the teacher said one thing to me which I have never forgotten. I was admiring an album she was making for her 18 year old son. She said ‘I wish I had more photos of when he was younger. You are lucky, you now have the chance to take lots of photos of your children.’ (I had 2 very young children at the time). I took her advice, took lots of photos and made notes of where we went, what they did etc, birthday party details etc. This is now invaluable for when I want to make a scrapbook page, I have all the information I need. That comment to me was one of the best pieces of scrapping advice I have ever received. So although I dont have as much time to scrap as I would like, and there are still gaps in their albums, the most important thing is that I at least have the material to work with. Those gaps will eventually be filled!

    • Jennifer Wilson

      Thank you so much for sharing this! I have been going through photos from this past year and there are so few of me with my family because I am so often behind the camera. And you’re right, by having the material to work with (and taking care of it) we set ourselves up for scrapbooking when we can!

  9. Sonja Gortzak

    Great post Jennifer!

    For me it’s also the boxes full of oictures and memorabilia that make me feel behind. It’s the reason I’ve decided to do old school photo albums again. I like chronological scrapping, that’s the sort of person I am. And with the albums I can add in tbe occasional layout and fill the rest in with photos just glued to the pages. I thought of a pocket system but I really gund it very costly and I have found that I really don’t like my layouts and photos behind plastic;-)
    I think that it helps to do a few years of scrapping and following a few blogs and other scrappers to see what is possible and then pick your style.
    Something else that I have started doing is just type out an overview of each year. Yhis goes into the front page of each albun and then even if I haven’t scrapped something it is ‘documented’. Lastly, I realize that I need to be realistic about what my legacy should be. Will my sob really want 40 odd albums in his inheritance. I was thinking the other day how I would feel if my mom just gave ne that many albums about my youth and hers…..just a few would be fine;-)

    • Jennifer Wilson

      Thanks Sonja, and you’ve added some great points. I love your idea of adding an overview at the front of each album!

  10. Nicole

    I’m glad i’m following your workshop online before your story. Looking forward to it, have a lot to cover, since i was 39 when i got pregnant. But i’m gathering everything now and scanning photo’s and so on

    • Jennifer Wilson

      Good for you – can’t wait to see you in class!

  11. Jamie

    I wish I would have known about this class! Is there a way to take the class now? Or purchase access to the materials or videos? Thanks!

    • Jennifer Wilson

      Before Your Story is not currently available for purchase, but I do expect it will return in some fashion in the future.

  12. Jodi B

    Can you share with us the type of pocket albums you are using? I would like to have them as an option for my own scrapbooking. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Jennifer Wilson

      I typically use D-ring albums from We R Memory Keepers with pocket page protectors from Becky Higgings for my 12×12 albums. I also like Ali Edwards products for the 6×8 album size.



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