Operation Clean Slate: Let’s Get Started!

2011 is winding down and soon it will be 2012. Most of us will probably start the new year off by making resolutions, some scrapbook related, and many of us are already planning scrapbook projects that will span 2012.

But, as we look forward, we have to admit that there is something holding us back: this year’s unfinished projects. Whether it is a Project Life album we didn’t keep up with, or a Big Picture class like One Little Word, or another creative project that we tasked ourselves to complete in 2011 and haven’t, it weighs on our mind and creates guilt and leaves a sense of failure already hanging over us as we try to embark on next year’s projects.

Unless, of course…we come up with a way to finish them or get them off of our mind. Which is why this week Scrapbook Update is launching Operation Clean Slate. It’s all about closing out 2011 with a finished project and a clear mind!

So let’s get started!

Each week, we’ll try to move a bit closer to completing something, and to letting go of the rest – to creating a clean slate for 2012. I know this is a busy time of year so we’ll take it slow and try to create doable tasks. Remember, the goal of this is not to commit to a huge project. The goal is to do something manageable and then give yourself permission to let go of what is not possible to complete, to let go of the massive pressures that we put on ourselves to be superhuman.

The holidays can be a time when we are so busy doing for others that we forget to take care of ourselves. Operation Clean Slate is intended to be a way of taking care of yourself, a way of giving yourself permission to take a break to do something that you enjoy, while at the same time freeing you from pressures you put on yourself. This is your mental health break from the holiday insanity, not another item on your holiday to-do list.

So how do we get started? The first step is all about planning.

1. Make a list

We’re making a list and checking it twice! Before you can complete something and let go of the rest, you need to figure out what it is that you committed yourself to in 2011. So, start by making a list of all the major creative projects that you had promised yourself you would do in 2011. Don’t worry about the list being too long – just dump everything onto it and we’ll sort it out in the next steps.

Here’s my list:

Project Life

One Little Word class

Monthly Tags Album

Envelope Album (for letters from my husband)

Hometown Album

2. Status Check

You need to pick one of the projects on your list to actually complete in 2011. One factor influencing your choice of project will be choosing something manageable to complete. To decide what is manageable you’ll need to know where each project currently stands in terms of completion. Take a few minutes and jot some notes on your list about how much still needs to be done on each item.

Project Life: Partially complete through January. Lacking photos to fully complete as designed.

One Little Word class: Mostly complete through June.

Monthly Tags Album: Short one tag of being up-to-date.

Envelope Album (for letters from my husband): Album purchased but that is all.

Hometown Album: Album purchased & pictures printed.

3. Prioritize

Another factor influencing which project you choose to complete will be its personal importance to you. Look at your list and place a star next to a project (or a couple, if necessary) that are the most important to you personally. Yes, they are all important or they wouldn’t be on your list…but which ones are really important?

*Project Life: Important for a lot of reasons to create a record of 2011 for my husband and daughter.

One Little Word class: Important more for the process itself than for the album that it creates

*Monthly Tags Album: Very therapeutic project

*Envelope Album (for letters from my husband): Important to me for sentimental reasons

Hometown Album: Scrapping my present is more important to me than scrapping my past is.

4. Make A Choice

All right…it’s time to take all that information you put together in steps one through three and make a choice. What project has the magical combination of being the most important and the most doable in 2011?

For me, from the three projects that I starred, I chose my Project Life to complete in 2011. It’s designed for quick and easy scrapbooking, so it is the perfect project for Operation Clean Slate. Completing it will also result in the greatest “bang for my buck” as far as the record of memories that will be completed for my family from my time invested. And that is a high priority for me right now.

That’s not to say that I’m abandoning the other projects. I didn’t choose the Monthly Tag Album for Operation Clean Slate because it is almost up to date without needing to make a special effort. I’ll just keep doing what I’ve been doing all along on that, which should keep it up to date through the end of the year. The other projects will be addressed in a later part of this Operation Clean Slate process.

5. Gather supplies

Organization really helps with completing a project quickly and well. Now that you’ve selected a project to work on, it’s time to take a hard look at gathering what you need to complete it. Gathering everything ahead of time means you won’t be interrupted during the process of creating by a lack of materials.

One thing to keep in mind when assembling your materials is to look for materials that you can use that provide shortcuts of some kind, and to avoid planning complicated techniques that take a lot of time. Quick and easy is the mantra for Operation Clean Slate: pre-made embellishments, simple techniques, and not making anything too complicated.

How I am doing it: For my Project Life, I’ve had a basket assembled all year in my scrapbook cupboard that has my Project Life kit elements in it. I’ve also tucked into that basket a few other elements that I have gathered that work with my Project Life – My Mind’s Eye 4×6 overlays, some Elle’s Studio journaling tags, and a corner rounder. I also stick small pieces of memorabilia in here, like receipts.

I also have a stash of papers assembled to use that will make completing my album easier. There’s the Project Life kit papers, and some Simple Stories 4×6 journaling card sheets along with some of their coordinating patterned sheets.

(Pictured Above, l-r: Simple Stories 4×6 journaling cards (Destinations #1, 100 Days of Summer #2, Elementary #1, 100 Days of Summer #1)

In addition I have a large number of calendar and date items stashed as part of my monthly tag album project that I plan to draw on, especially the items that are dated for months in 2011 that were left unused after I made the tag for that month. It’s unlikely that those items will get used for scrapbook layouts so Project Life is the perfect thing to use them up on.

Another thing not to forget to stock up on for a project like this is photo paper and ink (if you print at home). If you need photos and can’t print them due to running out of supplies, everything comes to a screeching halt. I have a large stash of my favorite 4×6 Canon photo paper on hand (I buy it 400 sheets at a time from Amazon for a big discount) and enough ink to keep me going until Amazon Prime two day shipping can get me resupplied if I need more.

Next week, I’ll be back with week two of Operation Clean Slate, when we’ll be figuring out some ways to streamline projects as we tackle them at this busy time of year.

So…what project are you going to tackle for Operation Clean Slate?

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31 Responses to Operation Clean Slate: Let’s Get Started!

  1. Nancy Grant November 7, 2011 at 11:23 pm #

    Hey there. I hadn’t thought of the year ending. It is so close to being over. Thanks for your tips and reminder. I wonder what projects I have left to close out this year?


  2. Jude November 8, 2011 at 3:14 am #

    This is a great idea. I’ve been intending to get a vacation book printed up for this year. Its going to be very simple – words and photos in a photobook. I’ve been working on my photography over the last couple of years and I’ve got some great pics so I want to let them shine! This is a great reminder that I need to stop starting projects and actually finish some of them. I want to do Project Life next year – waiting until the digital kit is released to make decisions on exactly how I’m doing it so it’d be wonderful to have a clean(er) slate 🙂

    • WhamBamPam November 8, 2011 at 12:30 pm #

      I did Project Life in 2010 & even though I didn’t do as much journaling as I would have liked, I am really happy with the way it turned out. And don’t guilt trip yourself, sometimes you may end up doing a 2 page spread that covers a whole month & sometimes 2 pages isn’t enough to cover your whole week. It balances out in the end. The hardest part is including/taking pictures of yourself.

  3. Ona November 8, 2011 at 6:51 am #

    Climbing on board with this one. My list goes beyond pictures and stories to include a bit of sewing, knitting, and home renewal. I could say YIKES !!, but plan to go about this sanely, just as you’re suggesting.

  4. Dolli November 8, 2011 at 6:53 am #

    I have a vacation album from a big family road trip we took in 2010 that I wanted to complete this year. I have photos printed, memorabilia gathered, and even some papers & embellishments chosen. I had also wanted to do a birthday album with photos from my kids, husband, & my birthdays each year, but I haven’t even begun doing anything on it other than just thinking about it.

  5. Lori November 8, 2011 at 7:58 am #

    I was already kind of in this mindframe, with various unfinished projects out and ready in my craft room. Nice to have some company and know that I am not alone! : )

  6. Ginny November 8, 2011 at 8:05 am #

    I’ve been trying to work on some unfinished projects, but I haven’t been doing it in an organized way. Thanks for sharing your method. I’m going to give it a try!

  7. Sharon F November 8, 2011 at 8:12 am #

    Awesome approach. It will help to free up 2012 for new projects and clear my mind of what I wanted to work on.
    Thanks!! Can’t wait to work on these steps and see next week’s post.

  8. Cindy deRosier November 8, 2011 at 8:29 am #

    Great idea. I have a pile of unfinished projects I’ve been working through- it will feel great to have them done by the end of 2011.

  9. Lisa November 8, 2011 at 8:42 am #

    Project Life is my most I portent one. I think I am going to relegate my 38 things project to blog only. Thanks Nancy!

  10. Rebecca November 8, 2011 at 9:29 am #

    What a FABULOUS idea! I have FOUR mini books that need to get finished and are eating at me. They each just need a good chunk of time. What a great thing to focus on! Thanks!

  11. Ali MacDonald November 8, 2011 at 9:32 am #

    What a fantastic idea and post. TY ! Nancy, I am really going to try to get a list made, at least. I am an organizational nut with soooo may imp’t real-life responsibilities in addition to the love of my “creative life”…. scrapping. The responsibilities tend to keep me from being as organized as I would like in my scrappy-pursuits. But priorities are priorities, right? We know what comes first. So… I AM going to try, while still keeping the priorities straight, to be a wee bit more organized w/ finishing my scrappy stuff the next few mos and see where it takes me. Thanks again! GREAT post and I look fwd to NEXT week! 🙂 ~ Ali

  12. Kay November 8, 2011 at 10:04 am #

    Yep, great ideas! I’m going to concentrate on getting my scrapbooking supplies whittled down so I can convert the room into a spare bedroom. I can’t believe that I’m doing this, as the room was my dream. However, I’ve decided to become a digital scrapper except for a couple of projects that are ongoing – like my Grandchildren Album.

  13. Melanie Reid November 8, 2011 at 10:09 am #

    This is an excellent idea. Thank you so much for sharing. My personal list is long too, but by using your list of priorities, the only one that makes it to the top is my wedding album. It is started, and I have all the materials on hand to complete it. I just have to sit down an do it.

  14. Candy November 8, 2011 at 10:45 am #

    Oh my goodness! You would win the contest! I am really the ‘turtle’ in the race…slow and steady..and some of my projects take years. So I don’t worry about clean slates…I just do a page when I can. I lost track of how many pages I made for my son’s Senior year…but I bet I could fill several albums…right now I’m just finding photos, high school momentos and sitting down to make a page (in no particular order). As soon as I finish the grad photos I will try to arrange the pages into albums. Then I will find out how may albums I need. I really want all the memories and I don’t want to pick and choose. I told him he could thin out the albums someday…picking out the pages he really wanted to keep. And, of course, this project morphed into Junior year, sophomore year, etc. Ah, the memories. Naturally the kid is in his sophomore year of college. Ha!

  15. Laura November 8, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

    I still want to finish my Week in the Life pages for this year. I went with a very simple design, but need to complete the seven digital pages. I’ve got the template, I’ve got the pictures, I’ve got some scribbled notes for journaling, I just need to focus and finish and get the pages printed!

  16. S November 8, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

    Oh, Nancy, you have no idea how much I need Operation Clean Slate. I’m not sure yet what projects I’ll tackle, but since FINISH was my word for the year – I’m grateful to you for this series. I am in, I am all in.

  17. WhamBamPam November 8, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

    I’m on board Nancy, although until you mentioned it I haven’t realized how close to the end of 2011 we are.

  18. Christie November 8, 2011 at 2:19 pm #

    Project Life is my most important goal too, I just uploaded 298 photos to Costco, so I will be finishing it with you. And I plan to stay on task next year and make it a bit more pretty with extra do-dads. But this year I am just focusing on getting it done. I am fully embracing “good enough”.

    I have many, many other things I need to finish, but PL is the most important to me.

  19. Darlene Ragon November 8, 2011 at 2:20 pm #

    What a great motivational post!! I have a project life from 2009 that was half done and I thought I would finish the last half of the year with this year, but am already behind on it…lol. Maybe this will get me going so I can start afresh in 2012 with another Project Life album!!
    Thanks…keep the posts coming!

  20. Jo November 8, 2011 at 4:20 pm #

    great article …i just came back from a retreat where i spent many hours finishing a mini album i started last summer …. it feels so good to finish a project!

  21. Christine November 8, 2011 at 7:45 pm #

    My Project Life album is my Operation Clean Slate! I’m two months behind but I’m fairly certain I can tackle it and get caught up. Thanks for the push and inspiration!

  22. Caroline November 8, 2011 at 9:03 pm #

    Count me in! I have an England mini album and a cut-down version of Week in the Life that are incomplete, plus a December Daily that’s aching to be prepped, and a mini album to make as a Christmas gift. And Christmas cards to make… I think I need a bigger slate!

  23. Susan November 8, 2011 at 11:07 pm #

    Thanks so much for this idea. Got my One Little Word caught up tonight! What a feeling of relief.

  24. Judy November 9, 2011 at 2:15 am #

    Thank you for such a great article! I used to think about all the projects that I needed to do and would get so overwhelmed that NONE of them got done. After following your steps, I know I can finish making the Christmas cards that didn’t get done last year and I’m going to organize my scrapbooking room and supplies so I can start 2012 with a great, organized list of projects to finish and an organized work space. 🙂 I feel better about it already. lol!

  25. Donna C November 9, 2011 at 12:24 pm #

    Another great post Nancy! Love the concept, but what I wonder is this: Why do we procrastinate so much? Do we think we aren’t worthy of taking the time for ourselves? Do we worry too much about the outcome? Will it be perfect, etc. Anyway, before I get too deep, I personally need to figure out which roadblocks I have and then I can move forward and choose.
    Now to make the list…….maybe later! 😉

  26. Dee B November 9, 2011 at 1:27 pm #

    I love this. Just love the idea of starting clean. Not holding ourselves back with what we have NOT done, but motivating ourselves with what we CAN do. I just spend a weekend purging and cleaning my scraproom with an ear towards this very thing…starting over…getting ready to do the Ali Edwards DD and wanted to be able to enjoy the process…for me it is not procrastinating…that implies putting off something I don’t want to do…I WANT to do it…it is just a matter of finding the time…and I love how your post helps me put things in perspective!

  27. Gab November 10, 2011 at 3:19 am #

    Thank you Nancy, this is fantastic! I’m going to finish my Project 365 album from 2009. I only have about 4 pages left to do. Then I’ll finish up albums from 2 BPS classes. Again, each only has a page or 2 to do!

  28. Emily November 12, 2011 at 9:16 am #

    I can’t tell you how much I needed this! I am fully on board with Operation Clean Slate. I’ll be making my list today. I cringe when I see One Little Word…I completely stopped doing it in March and don’t think I have the motivation to go back and finish at this point.

    • KatieK. November 13, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

      Emily, I cringe too. Feel guilty to point I’ve stopped looking at the handouts, etc . Guess my word for 2012 should be undercommit or underpromise…

  29. KatieK. November 13, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

    Oh, this is the perfect post topic ever this year!! Kindred spirits some of us (many I think) are, believing that we’re the only ones behind on our to-do list, our wish list of crafting. Behind in: PL, OLW, and every other class/project I set for myself. To point I am limiting any further classes/projects to commit to for 2012. Maybe we need a support group for 2012 based on 12 steps for those of us who over-commit our craft to-do’s? A monthly Operation Clean Slate check in. Hmm, probably get behind in that too!
    I’m willing to try along with the rest of us.

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