Today, I want to focus on projects that are not arts and crafts focused. Some of these are personal improvement projects and others are focused on learning and growing. Some of them are just for me and others are for my family and community. Like yesterday, there's no right and wrong here and all of these projects can be customized to your schedule and preferences. The most important thing to do is to look at your Priority List and make sure your projects coincide with your priorities.
I will also talk about how one can use scrapbooking to track most of these projects. This way, at the end of the project, not only do you have a sense of accomplishment, but you have photographic proof of all your progress. I find this to be supremely rewarding.
As I mentioned on Tuesday, during 2010, my friend Lori and I did a project called Weekly Gratitude. We created a blog just for our project and we each posted twice a week. I created a template for mine and made each week look the same. (You can read more and download the free template here) I loved the idea of practicing gratitude so much that I also posted 3 things I was grateful for every day on my blog. And a few months into the year, my son started picking 3 things as well and I posted those too. During November, I bought him a journal (he's six and just starting to write) and he writes one of the three things each night in his journal. I love love love looking at these sentences. If you have kids I highly encourage you to do this project. At the end of the year, I printed all my cards and put them in a small, colorful album from Target. A whole year's worth of gratitude in a small album. Now it sits on my desk and I look through it occasionally and it makes me happy (and grateful for my life) each time.
As I mentioned Tuesday, Monika also did a Gratitude Album for 2010. Hers is a pre-prepared minibook where she writes each day. Easy peasy. Since she put the album together ahead of time, all she had to do each day is write a sentence. Make sure to visit her post for 2010 for her exact process and free downloads she provided to go along with them and she has also posted her 2011 album.
This is probably one of the single most rewarding projects you can do. Practicing gratitude makes you appreciate life more and what can be better than that?
Many people make a list each year on their birthday. Like 29 things before I turn 30. For me, birthdays don't symbolize a beginning so I don't tend to make big lists then. I seem to prefer the new year. Last year, I decided to make a list of 52 Things I hoped to do in 2010. The list varied widely. I had items like complete an art journal and decorate my living room walls and learn how to make bread. My plan was to do one a week but it didn't turn out that way. Some weeks I did three and other weeks I did none. Which was fine. Anything is fine, remember you're making the rules. I even added new things to my list as the year progressed and ended up with a list of 60 items. I didn't do all 60 but I tracked each of the ones I did on my blog. Having the list ahead of time is the only reason I accomplished so many of those items. Doing the prep work is really crucial.
Some people prefer to do life lists instead of a list that's tied to a specific year. These are lists that you hope to complete in your life time. They can be a lot more involved and take much longer to complete. If this inspires you more, I say go for it. For now, I haven't felt compelled to make one but I can totally imagine doing one someday. Here is some inspiration from Maggie of mightygirl and Karen of chookooloonks. Another idea I saw was from Christine and Peppermint called New 52 where they are going to pursue a new experience each weekend.
A Book a Week
I am an avid reader. As a kid, I read voraciously and then when I started college I stopped. Mostly because I was studying so hard but I never properly picked it back up again until the year my son was born. In 2005, I decided to do a 50 books a year project and I loved it. I did it again in 2006 and 2007. I then took a break for 2008 (I was too busy at work to breathe let alone read) and jumped back on the wagon in mid-2009. I read a book a week in 2010 and I plan to continue this for all of 2011 and for as long as I can. I love reading a book a week. I love having an excuse to read. Making it an official project helps me create the space and time to read. Like my other projects, I track my books on my blog. I also make a list of at least 52 titles before the year begins. Here's my list for 2011.
I don't have a crafty tracking system for my reading but I love that Celeste has this wonderful log she made to track the books she's reading.
Isn't that absolutely adorable? Makes me happy just looking at it. She's also made a layout to highlight her commitment to reading.
I love the idea of making a layout based on each of the projects. (And she's much more ambitious than I am - 100 books in a year!)
One of the projects I am adding for 2011 is to read a book a week to my son as well. He's just now able to read on his own and enjoys it a lot. A few months ago, I read The Phantom Tollbooth to him and he loved it so I decided it would be fun for both of us to read a book a week together. It will mean instilling a love of reading in him, spending more time together, and learning about new things. A perfect selection of items from my priority list. Like my own reading project, I made a list of books for us but I also wanted to track his project in a more special way, so I created a template to fill each week.
This means that at the end of 2011 I can make a minibook of all of the books we read together and both of us can remember it vividly over the years. You can read more about this project and download my free template.
Us Right Now
This project was inspired by three things: Tara Whitney's Six People Twelve Times project, my decision to be in the photos more this year, and a layout I made for Big Picture Classes last year that listed all the things each of my family members were doing at that time. Because I've realized that for me a project needs to be at least once a week (or I tend to slack) I decided to do a weekly project where someone (or an automatic timer) took a photo of all four of us once a week. I will couple that with a few sentences of what each of us are doing that week. I created a template for this project as well. I wanted the photo to be large so I decided to go for a 2-up album for this one. It's two 4x6 photos. Here's what the template looks like:
You can read more about this project and download template. This is the only project I am nervous about for next year. Mostly because it requires a commitment from each of my family members but also because I cannot do a lot of prep work for it. I am lucky enough to have a fantastic family and they always accommodate me so I am taking a leap of faith. And I plan to practice with the timer on my camera and try multiple locations in my house well before January 1.
Peppermint has a similar idea called A Year of Weekends where she scraps current, everyday moments of her weekends. Her photos aren't necessarily the full-family like mine but she is capturing the "now" and she's even scrapping it!
Healthy For Life
This project was inspired by three people: Donna Downey, Cathy Zielske, and Caroline Lau. I've struggled with my weight my whole life. During 2009, I read Donna's posts on how she went on a diet and then started exercising and lost a ton of weight. She even ran a half marathon. Her transformation was nothing short of magical. (Which of course wasn't magic at all, it was a lot of hard work by Donna.) I was inspired and amazed. During 2010, Cathy decided to go on her own journey to good health. She went on to lose over thirty pounds and became a regular runner.
In the beginning of the year, I was so overwhelmed by Cathy's posts that I stopped reading her blog. It was a regular reminder of how I wasn't making a similar effort in my life. And then on day, out of nowhere, I decided enough was enough. If both of these people could do it, so could I. I could at least try. And the time to try was right now. This is one of the rare cases where I didn't wait for the new year to begin. I started this project on October 2, 2010. I was so overwhelmed by a sense of urgency that I just began to work out and have worked out every single day since.
This project, for me, involves working out daily, eating healthy and rewarding myself with pieces of clothing. You can read all about it here and for 2011 I decided to create a template to track my progress. (Can you tell I like templates?)
I plan to make one each week. If you're like me and have been putting off prioritizing your health I urge you to make this the year for you. The time is NOW. There's no magic. It's hard work every day. But it's so very worth it. While Donna and Cathy were the unknowing catalysts for my project, Caroline is my cheerleader. She's the one who always encourages me and congratulates me and gives me advice. She's been my support system and has become invaluable to me. I encourage you to find a buddy as well.
If you want something much more amazing and comprehensive, read this post by Cathy. She is very detailed and has a full line of digital products to help you keep track of everything and create a wonderful album in the process.
I didn't create a writing project for myself this year. At the back of my mind, I have hope that I might do a month of writing but I didn't want to commit to any more writing then what I do for my blog. I am not sure I want to do it but I also haven't ruled it out. What I will be doing, however, is supporting my son in his gratitude journal project. Like we've been doing in 2010, he will write down one thing he's grateful for in his journal each day. We will also continue to track three things each of us are grateful for daily on my blog.
Amy has created a writing log for herself so she can write a few sentences each day. She says "I keep it by my bed and just jot down one or two things about the day." It's her response to Project 365. She doesn't take photos each day but makes sure to write a few sentences to remember her day by. I love this idea and do a similar concept on my blog daily.
Amy has a wonderful downloadable she made for the whole year so she could print the whole thing out. This way, all she has to do each day is write. The prep work is done. You can read all about it and download it here.
And here's another simple idea for a beautiful perpetual calendar. Simple yet powerful. There's no need to complicate things. The goal is to be inspired to do your project. Not make it so complicated that you will put off doing it.
I wanted to share a few other ideas I really liked. Christine and Peppermint are doing New 52 where they are going to pursue a new experience each weekend.
Regardless of your projects, you can also create a beautiful album like the one Monika created called Snapshots in Time. This mini can be the one place where you track or journal about all your projects instead of creating some system for each. I love the idea of putting it all together at the beginning of the year so each day it's just adding content. Makes it a lot easier to keep up with this way.
So here we are. A whole bunch more project ideas for you. Like yesterday, I hope there is at least one here that inspires you. You can always modify them to fit your lifestyle and priorities. Tomorrow we talk about a few closing remarks like choosing the right project and a staying the course and when to change course. I hope to see you then!
In the meantime, if you've done and personal projects in 2010 or plan to in 2011, we'd love to hear them. Please leave us a comment so we can expand the list of ideas!