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Tackling Those Unfinished Projects


Over the last couple of months I've been thinking a lot about unfinished projects. Specifically unfinished memory keeping projects.

This year I'm going to make it a priority tackle them and I'm going to share the journey here on my blog.

Here are the steps I'm taking to make this happen:

STEP ONE | Make a conscious choice to make this is a priority this year.

We've set aside three hours per week (a block on Thursday mornings) for me to work through these projects. It doesn't feel like a lot of time, but it's dedicated time to only work on the projects on this list.

STEP TWO | Make a list of all the projects you have unfinished.

Most of my unfinished projects are travel albums. Some of them I started Scrapbook On The Road travel albums while I was on the adventure and others just have photos and stuff and no documentation was done along the way.

Here's what I would like to complete this year:

  • China 2013 Album

  • Paris 2013 Album

  • Ireland 2012 Album

  • Disneyland 2012 Album (see my start here)

  • Italy 2011 Album

  • Italy 2010 Family Album

  • Maui 2010 Album

STEP THREE | Decide which ones are worth finishing and which ones you can let go.

My encouragement to you is to get real about this. Some projects can be let go. Letting go frees you up to focus on the ones that are most important. Another option if you don't want to let go of a project is to change your approach. Instead of a mini-book you might choose to add the photos and words to a Project Life album or simply create a couple of traditional layouts that can be added to an annual album. Remember that there are lots of options and it's okay to change your mind even if you started out in a particular direction.

Be realistic with yourself and your time and your motivation.

STEP FOUR | Make a plan but don't make planning your project. Make completing the projects your project.

So often it's easy to spend all our time planning and not enough time doing. What's your personal procrastination? Shopping for the perfect items? Writing the perfect journaling? Editing your photos? Making decisions about the format or what supplies to use? There are a million and one different ways to procrastinate on these projects or spend all your time planning and then run out of steam.

Each one of us will have a different plan for actually completing these projects. Your plan might be to set aside a couple hours a week or month to devote to these projects that have been on your list for years.

The important part is to have some sort of plan and then make it happen. You can do this. I can do this and I'll share the first part of my plan and my first action steps below.

STEP FIVE | Get to work.

Throughout 2014 I'll share my journey and update you on my process here on my blog.


Here's a look at the specific steps I took this week to get things moving in the right direction:


When you enter my office there's a little room you walk through before you're technically in the office. This is the room that holds the white table which is where we photograph most of our projects. As you can see from the photo above it also includes a blue table (which is on it's way out) with a bunch of baskets and a large rolling baking rack (holding all the trays) that I purchased from a local restaurant supply store a few years back.

I first saw the idea of using a backing rack in one of the last issues of Better Homes & Gardens Scrapbooks Etc magazine. They had set one up in a common area for people to hold projects in-progress. I loved the idea and was able to locate one locally and have it delivered to my house.


When Katie and I started talking about tackling my unfinished projects in 2014 I knew I wanted to utilize these trays in a more intentional way. They've been holding projects and other miscellaneous stuff for the last couple of years with no specific purpose other than storage.


On Thursday we went through all the trays and removed all the random stuff and then assigned a tray to each of my unfinished albums. These trays are 19 inches wide x 26 inches long. We labeled each tray with the project name.

What I love about the trays is that I can simply pull one out and bring it to my work table (or down to the dining room if I wanted to work there) and then just put everything back on the tray to store it away until the next time I'm able to work on it. The trays rock.

Luckily for me most of the stuff for each project (photos, stuff collected while traveling, albums, some products, etc) was all already together. Most of the time I came home from a trip and put everything into a bag and then put it in a pile somewhere in the office. Ah, piles.

Here's what you'll find on each tray at this time:


ITALY 2010 | This is the only trip where all the photos are already printed. A couple years ago I had Katie go through all the photos from this trip (she came on this trip with us) and organize them into envelopes based on themes (vs. a chronological timeline of our adventures). I'm considering putting this trip into a Project Life album because of the sheer number of photos that are all already printed 4x6 and that I didn't start any sort of Scrapbook On The Road album in advance.


ITALY 2011 | This was my first Scrapmap adventure and I did great collecting stuff along the way. I have Instax photos but no other photos printed yet. This album has a kit to go along with it (the one I brought for the people who came on the trip) so I'll likely be using those supplies to bring the album together.


DISNEYLAND 2012 | You can read my recent post about starting the process for this album here.


IRELAND 2012 | My second travel adventure with Scrapmap. I actually did a bit more scrapbooking while we were traveling on this trip, but still nothing near done with no photos printed.


PARIS 2012 | For Paris I took along my own little set of supplies (including my Epson printer) but ended up doing very little (which I was totally fine with). No photos printed yet except for the Instax images. Inside the bigger bag were the supplies I brought along with me. Inside the album are all the pieces of paper and such I picked up along the way.


CHINA 2013 | Again, lots of stuff collected on the way. No photos printed. I can't wait to work with the photos from this trip.

The only one from my list that's missing is our family trip to Maui in 2010. I need to go back and take a look at what photos I have from that trip and figure out how I want to tackle it. It's the only one that I don't have anything from - no plane tickets, notes, etc.


As we were getting each project on it's own tray we made a couple of assessments:

  1. Did I have a format already in place/what album was I planning to use?

  2. Did I have any photos printed?

This was really more for my general information. Most already have albums that go along with them and I'm planning to continue using what I started with for each of those trips.

As I write this up today I actually feel really excited about tackling these projects. Having a plan in place and some time set aside feels good.


After your figure out your own list of projects you'd like to finish this year the next question will be which one to tackle first. I'm planning to do mine one at a time vs. batching my steps such as printing all the photos for all the projects at one time which would be something I'd consider if I didn't print at home.

Next week I'm going to decide which project to begin. Most likely I'll start with whichever one I feel most excited about on Thursday (the day I've set aside to work on these projects) and go from there!

Ready, set, go!

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91 thoughts

  1. Becky m says…

    Looking forward to seeing your progress and i will be scrapping right along with you!

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. marcela says…

    my procrastination reason was simply that i didn't like my scraproom and never wanted to go up to work on my projects there, so last year i re-did the whole room and now i'm on my way to finish my unfinished projects :) i'm looking forward to see your progress as like you i have couple albums from travels that are half done so i'm going along with you on this :) Thursday evenings for me, thanks Ali

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. Deirdre says…

    Love this idea. I'm always waiting for that mythical day when my to-do list is done to finally tackle my unfinished projects. I'm so sick of writing my youngest son's baby album on my goals for the year---every year---and then not making any plan or progress.

    Looking forward to your future post about block scheduling, as that seems like a brilliant approach. I often don't want to start to there isn't enough time to finish...but blocking out a good chunk of time once a week is doable. thanks!

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. Addie says…

    This is great! I also have many trips and vacations that I need to scrapbook! Inspiring!

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. lee says…

    I have to admit - that baking rack always makes me jealous...but even moreso now. Like you, I've found myself with a number of unfinished projects. But just my luck, my desire to begin making progress on finishing them has coincided with a recent move to a smaller apartment with even less room to scrapbook than I had before. So I'm going to have think creatively about how to make the space still work, because I don't want to lose advantage of this mental momentum!

    Look forward to seeing your progress...perhaps that will help me stay motivated, too. =)

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. Kelli W says…

    Thanks for inspiring me! I was thinking back in December that I really needed to finish up a few mini albums that I had started/planned to start, but are just sitting in a basket. I actually stopped halfway thru reading this post just to make a list of *my* unfinished projects. Excited to get going with this!

    Reply 0 Replies
  7. Rina says…

    Love this post Ali! Thank-you.

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. Cindy Hayes says…

    Thank you for the motivation to complete. I am trying but this motivated me more. Thank you

    Reply 0 Replies
  9. Lisa Barton @ Scrapbook, papercraft, journaling & cardmaking UK says…

    Oh Ali, how lovely that you are so super organised and focussed. I am really struggling time wise what with my 4 young daughters, the house, husband and 3 online businesses. I have become focussed to the point that I cannot become anymore focussed but still there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done, and I too have MANY unfinished projects just waiting, waiting, waiting for me to show them some love again :( Suggestions on a postcard please ...

    Reply 0 Replies
  10. Toni says…

    LOVE the Baker's Rack idea! Any tips you can share on finding one? Thanks for the inspiration as always!

    Reply 2 Replies
    1. Ali says…

      I found mine at a local restaurant supply store.

    2. Terri says…

      I saw some on Amazon.

  11. Judy says…

    I can't tell you how happy it makes me to hear that even the "famous scrapbookers" get behind. Sure makes me feel better about my piles of unfinished projects. I'm so going on this journey with you!

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. lilola says…

      Me, too, Judy! Nice to know I have company!

  12. Patti L says…

    Thanks for sharing your process. I can't wait to get a baker's rack once I move...I have all sorts of ideas for it.
    I have also found that the key for me to finishing projects is to just work on what I am excited about at that moment. I used to try to force myself into doing the oldest first, but that just didn't work. It's so much better when you find your own flow!
    Good luck with your projects!

    Reply 0 Replies
  13. Lisa R says…

    I have so many unfinished projects. I would love to be able to organize them and complete the important ones!
    I absolutely love the bakers rack idea! I will have to search for one of those. Easy in and easy out; seems to make it easy to clean up and come back to later.

    Reply 0 Replies
  14. Kim says…

    I can't wait to follow along! I am finishing up my DD'14 then I am back to my 2009 lake album & then 2009 family album. excited to finish a year!

    Reply 0 Replies
  15. Jessica @The Mom Creative says…

    Love this and am looking forward to following along. xo

    Reply 0 Replies
  16. Alicia says…

    Great tips! I'm motivated to make a plan!

    Reply 0 Replies
  17. Memory Keeping Projects | The Everyday and Beyond says…

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  18. Traditional Scrapbook Layout | Sweet Anna Girl | Ali Edwards says…

    […] As you might have read earlier this week one of my goals this year is to finish-up some of my unfinished projects. […]

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  19. Shannon Brown says…

    Great post Ali. I love the way you are breaking things down and I love that bakery cart even more!! :)
    I actually just finished listening to a podcast titled Procrastination 101 (on Power of Moms Radio - https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/power-of-moms-radio/id806993336?mt=2&ign-mpt=uo%3D4). It was a good reminder that the best way to stay on top of things is to tackle small tasks when you can. That magical 10 hour of uninterrupted work time is never going to happen. :) Identify the next action item, whether that be printing your photos, or trimming paper, and do it.

    Reply 0 Replies
  20. Chrisy@GoodNorthCoastLife says…

    Really inspiring post Ali. Thanks for keeping it real.
    I'm inspired to go through my office now and do something with all those un-finished projects !!

    Reply 0 Replies
  21. Judy Seaman says…

    Great post, Ali! I just finished my DD yesterday and it feels great to be done with it. I am finishing PL for 2013 by printing all the photos first. Then I can just sit down for a few minutes at a time and journal and decorate the pages. I am also working on this year's PL in between bouts of playing catch-up.
    And I so agree: go with the project that interests you most and get it done. My motto? "Done is better than perfect!"
    Love the rack, too.

    Reply 0 Replies
  22. Roberta says…

    I love how your steps are so clear and organized! What an excellent approach! Thank you for sharing this.

    Reply 0 Replies
  23. rosanna mairena says…

    awesome post. thanks. I love the baker's rack and wish I had the room. I found these 18x15 wooden trays at pottery barn which work great for active project and quick putaway when I need to clear my desk.
    I love the idea of making a list of open projects to really refocus and rethink. I have 12x12 mailing boxes that I have a few projects sorted in with trip memorabilia and pictures.So I see them on the shelf but havent opened the boxes to rethink it all through. Definitely a great weekend morning project before the kid wakes up to list and rethink!

    Reply 0 Replies
  24. Routine and Progress | Words of my Life says…

    […] read a great post about finishing projects over at Ali Edwards blog and I was inspired on a few different levels.  I realized that I get really overwhelmed with all […]

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  25. Liz Sawyer says…

    I have to say it's comforting & encouraging to see you have projects backed up too... always so inspired by your work, but haven't had the time to be crafty lately. Feeling encouraged to just take the block of time to do something and make those lists/piles in an organized way so I can jump in and do, rather than spend the time searching...

    Reply 0 Replies

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