Ok. I know this may shock some of you die-hard crafty fans out there. But sometimes all I want to do is get down my story and throw a photo in with it, and call it done. It is at these times, I'll revert to using a template, or simply open up just one kit, and use only what's available within that kit for that layout. This makes the layout really quick - 1. I don't have to think of where to place each part of the page - the sketch has already decided that for me. 2. I don't have to go searching through my supplies to find something special - I've limited myself to just what's in the kit.
Now you could work with this method as a paper scrapper too. You just need to have your photo printed out, and grab only a handful of supplies to sit upon your table before you begin. Don't, whatever you do, rifle through your stash midway through the layout - that's cheating. Use only what you have dedicated to the layout from the start. You'll be amazed at how much stress and indecision it frees up. Just go with the flow.
I like to put on my background paper (or cardstock) first. Then pile up all my elements into a bundle on one corner of the layout page. Then I insert my photo where I want it. Then I add drop shadows (even sometimes use the ghastly photoshop presets!) and save, resize for web, save again. Done.
Here is one I've just done. No kidding. Less than 10 minutes.
Ok, I know this is one of the rare occassions where I haven't used any journalling at all. And if I had a bit more time, maybe I'd add something to justify this page in an album. Like what he's into right now. Or what we were doing on this day (but I'm going to do another page explaining this). Or do an interview with him to see what he's thinking about lately. Or re-tell some dream or story he's come home with since starting school. But tonight, I'm happy just to play and leave this as it is. A wonderful 10 minute page with a very simple message, I love you.