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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. Susan says…

    I love this project. Even though I'm single, without kids, I still learn so much about myself, my life and feelings every time I do WITL. This year marks my 4th year. No one's life is boring when we take the time to pay attention.

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. susan garner says…

    I so want to do this week in the life this year, I would like to download your week in the life cards but have never done this before. So do I pay then you send me the link to download then I just print on regular printer paper because that's all I have. I know its a silly question as I am sure many people in the above posts have done this before. Thanks.

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. tiffani says…

    I've never done anything like this before, but I am intrigued by the idea, so I will be doing it and I'm really excited!

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. Rachelle says…

    love this idea and hope to capture and appreciate my life more :)

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. sylvia howard says…

    I'm excited to try this for the first time. Ali, the links on the articles gave me an error message: "we're sorry the page you're trying to reach in not available". Is there something wrong with the link or is it on my end? Please help!

    Reply 0 Replies
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