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The Basics of Documenting A Week In Your Life

Img_3092 From my 2008 Week In The Life Album.

Next week, from Monday through Sunday, I will be documenting a week in my life with photos + words and I invite you to play along. (You could even begin today or tomorrow if you wanted - there is no reason it has to be Monday through Sunday vs. Saturday through Friday.)

This is a creative adventure. It requires little more than a camera and a willingness to pay attention and gather up stuff from your daily life.

Even if you have never scrapbooked before you can do this project.

This will be a pared down project from the one I have taught previously. Right now I am most interested in the photos and the words and that is where my focus will be throughout the week.

Some of you out there may be thinking: my life is boring or I do the same thing everyday or what story do I have to tell? As with many of the projects I have created, the documentation process is just as (and maybe more) important than the creative process of actually putting the album together. Most likely you will learn something about yourself over the course of this project. I learn something new every time.

AWITLmondayopen2007 From my 2007 Week In The Life album.


TAKE PHOTOS. Commit to keeping your camera with you throughout the day. Capture everything. Capture things that may seem silly or dumb. Capture the normal. Capture little things. Capture your environment. Here's a couple questions I ask myself or I keep in mind as I am going about this project: what's my daily routine, where did I go, who did I see, what do I do, what does the inside of my home look like, where do I spend the most time, etc. Capture stuff that you use everyday: your computer, a coffee mug, a favorite pair of shoes, a book, etc. Make sure to take a photo of yourself each day. See the list of possible photos below.

UPLOAD PHOTOS. Take a bit of time each evening to upload your photos for the day. You can use this time to eliminate duplicate shots and if you are really on top of things you could print them out or upload them to your favorite developer to have them ready to create with the following week.

DESIGNATE A PLACE FOR NOTES. Have a notebook or a couple sheets of paper set aside to jot down notes, stories, things to remember about each day. Don't make this complicated. Don't run out and buy a new notebook. The back of some junk letters, the leftover pages in a journal you have always meant to get around to, etc. You simply need somewhere to write down notes over the course of the day.

TAKE NOTES. Once you set up something to write on, do the writing. What should you write? Thoughts you have during the day, things your kids or your boss or your partner say, things you notice (simple and profound), what you ate, etc. Go for the basics. These notes will be transferred into your album when the time comes. See more about recording the story under the category heading below.

DESIGNATE A PLACE TO STORE LIFE-STUFF. Part of the process is collecting bits and pieces of your life over the course of the week. For this I recommend setting up an envelope or folder for each day. You may use some of this stuff and you may not. I tend to keep things like receipts, handwritten notes, etc. These will be companions to your photos + words.

WITL2006 From my 2006 Week In The Life album.


- think about the most basic things/the real life things that you see everyday: those things that are so much a part of what you do each day that they simply blend into the blur of images
- chores
- loves
- dishes
- food you cook
- food you eat
- driving to work
- driving your kids to school/kids at the bus stop
- computer
- what you do for work
- looking down at your shoes
- your front door
- thermometer/temperature outside
- gas prices
- the grocery store/your grocery cart/bags of groceries
- the mess
- piles of stuff
- the funny face your kid is making/funny things they are saying
- laundry
- your child's room, toys, favorite books, etc.
- document the imperfect normalness of your existence

For more everyday life photo ideas check out these Flickr groups:
My Everyday Life
Corners Of My Home
The New Domesticity
Self Portrait Tuesday

WeekInTheLifeJournalCardImage My 2010 journaling/category cards.

To prepare for my journaling in the past I have designated categories: food, gratitude, work, stuff, etc. You can totally implement something like this for yourself - it helps keep you focused on what you need to document in a written format - or you can be more free-flowing.

This year I made up journal cards with a bunch of categories to fit in the sleeves of the baseball card page protectors. The journal card package includes png, psd, and a pdf file for easy printing.

Just make sure you write something as you go along. It is way too hard to try to remember what the heck happened on a specific even a few days later.


(1) This is not a class. I do not have a finished project to show you or specific instructions to follow. I will be working alongside and adjusting and going with the flow from Monday through Sunday. It's a journey we can embark on together. One of the big reasons I am doing this on my blog is so that I will actually do the project. You are making me accountable. This project is worth all the effort you will put into it...but it does take work.

(2) This does not have to be a 12x12 album. It can be smaller or larger. You can include tons of stuff or just photos + words. Part of the process will be figuring out how to showcase your photos + stuff. One of the things I am excited about in relation to sharing this journey is the variety of different albums that will result. Part of what I will be thinking about as I go along next week is how I want to put the album together. I am envisioning a hybrid combination of paper and digital elements. Other than that I will be using things I have on hand here at home.

(3) Take this one day at a time. If you take a ton of photos on Monday and only a couple on Tuesday - no big deal. Let's get rid of that pressure before we even begin.

(4) Begin with the end in mind. If you are one of those people that needs to know where you are headed (as in you need to know what your album is going to look like) before you gather content, I suggest spending some time thinking about what you want your album to look like this weekend.

I've spent time this week planning & thinking about how I want to put my album together and will share more of that with you tomorrow. A new 12x12 digital layered template album as well as hybrid pieces I am using for my week is also available.

(5) Special giveaway. I'm excited to announce that there will be a big giveaway going on next week with a really cool group of sponsors. Look for more information on Monday.


A complete list of posts related to the week in the life project can be found here.

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81 thoughts

  1. Chari says…

    Never done this... excited!

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. kim cherry says…

    i am super excited to start this. i have never committed to an entire week of this, but whole-heartedly believe in capturing the everyday.

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. Ali Edwards says…

    Hi heidig - for me Project Life has really been more about one small snippet per day - one photo, one thought or observation or story. This project (this is my 5th time) invites more of the story per day to be told. For my Week In The Life album I may have up to 20 photos each day of the week + writing that includes food eaten, things I have read, conversations I have overheard or participated in, etc. Basically there's a lot more space to really get into the details over the course of seven days.

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. Sally says…

    Am a newbie to this album too- down under. Excited! Love the fact that people are going to be focusing on this at the same time around the globe. Will be good to capture everyday gems that may not usually be 'scrapped'.

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. ale says…

    thank you for sharing your process and teaching us so much, ali! this is my first time - i tend to think my life is too boring to document, and i think this project will help me see things in a different perspective. i've started "project life" this month, but i think that "week in the life" is a much more deep approach to our daily lives, and that it will help me realize that there are beautiful moments in ordinary days, too. thanks again!!!
    =^ . ^=

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. Jane Toft says…

    I'm in! It should be interesting in the Uk as we are at the start of Election campaigning. I will have lots of political 'junk mail' to include!

    Reply 0 Replies
  7. www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1471947366 says…

    When will the journal cards be available on Designer Digitals? I keep looking ....

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. Rana says…

    This sounds like fun. I'm going to give it a try and see where it takes me.

    Reply 0 Replies
  9. Claire says…

    I'm not sure how great I'll be at this, but I'm going to try the photos and notes to at least get a blog post together!

    Reply 0 Replies
  10. Terri says…

    Thanks so much for offering all your information. I am jumping on this week also. I had a few hours this morning and was going to organize (LOVE Abby!) and as I was thinking about my format, I like your 8 1/2 x 11 but I am caught up in the technical aspect... If your page one is a regular page protector, technically isn't page 2 the back of that page? Or as I type this.. title to album back of that page protector page 1, then baseball card pages (2 & 3), then page 4 is front side of regular page protector, start all over the next day.. I think I might have it.. :)

    Reply 0 Replies
  11. Becca says…

    I started today!!! My goal is to get through Thursday... making it through Sat would be great but we will see. Thank you so much for this inspiration. I don't think I would have thought to try this on my own.

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. Brenda says…

    This will be the first time for me doing this kind of project. I am looking forward to the challenge, it's going to be fun!! Thanks Ali!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  13. Marie says…

    Love this idea, thank you Ali for the inspiration . I will keep up this year and do this for the first time, think it will be great fun.

    Reply 0 Replies
  14. Teresa M says…

    This is a great project. I need to decide on a week to do this.

    Reply 0 Replies
  15. Cindy says…

    Ali - What's your favorite way to get small prints (baseball card sized) of your photos, or other non-standard sizes, like a 3x3 square? I can use the software from my printer, but then I have to print them at home which can be expensive. Shutterfly will let you do one at a time on a 4x6 sheet, or multiples of one, but not multiple different ones very readily. Do you create files of multiple photos on a single sheet in PSE and then get the prints from an online developer? Who do you use? Thanks!

    Reply 0 Replies
  16. Saman says…

    wow, the first thing i thought of when i read this was 'my birthday is coming up soon and i should do it in that week!', and weird weird thing is, this was posted exactly on my birthday last year (15th april) haha! so ye will be doing it on my bday! :D so excited!

    Reply 0 Replies
  17. JenR says…

    Another Week in the Life first-timer here! I've followed your others, and have always wanted to play along. Always felt my life was too routine (boring) to do it. But I'm going to. Routine is my life, and I'm ok with that. :) And, this time it happens to coincide with my daughter's 5th birthday!

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Ali says…

      Yep - to me it's those routines that really make life beautiful. Lots to celebrate within those basics of everyday life.

  18. Catherine at Design Editor says…

    I'm on Day 3 of documenting! (My husband and kids will be out of town next week.) Picking the camera up constantly takes some getting used to, but looking through the photos at the end of the day is the reward.
    Having a blast working on my own layered templates and design elements for the album too. I'll be sure to share on my blog next week!

    Reply 0 Replies
  19. vtkt says…

    I've been doing a 365 day album since Jan 1 and most days only one picture. I think I may choose this week to be a multiple picture week since I'm planning and cooking for a party on Sunday and have just broken my leg. This might be one of the more exciting weeks.. LOL

    Reply 0 Replies
  20. Shanna says…

    This will be my first year...Looking forward to documenting the mundane! :) (Or not mundane dependent on the kiddos...lol!)

    Reply 0 Replies
  21. Rona says…

    This sounds like fun! Count me in!

    Reply 0 Replies
  22. Susan Westberg says…

    I just signed up! Can't wait to do this. My yearly scrapbooking is Project Life but I'm excited to document my whole day in pictures and words. Thanks Ali!

    Reply 0 Replies
  23. Birte says…

    I never heard of it before, but I am definetely taking part this time. Thanks for inspiring me and others with this fun project.

    Reply 0 Replies
  24. daniscrapper says…

    I think it's such a great project. Comparing a week every year must be very nice. I'll read more and plan mine. Thanks for your always amazing ideas.

    Reply 0 Replies
  25. Mia o says…

    Can not wait to get start it

    Reply 0 Replies

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