Even though I am pretty used to working with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom now and it is part of my everyday personal workflow, I still do not leave my entire life’s work on Lightroom, at least not all of it at the same time. I work with a number of different computers and some of them are slower than others. I also travel a lot and although I could at times see the reason for taking a large number of images with me, most of the time I only need the images from the specific project (or projects) I am working on at that time.
So therefore it makes sense that I use Lightroom to organize and help me develop images belonging to a particular project. Fortunately we now have the ability in Lightroom to export a group of selected images and create a Catalog (which I think of as a Project Catalog) and save it to a folder on your internal or external hard disk drive.
After I have exported my Project Catalog and made a copy (including the image files) to an external drive, I select New Catalog in the File Menu of the Lightroom Library Module and start the next project with a clean slate.
Export Negative Files - allows you to save all the original files even if you have referenced them in your current Catalog, otherwise if you transport your Catalog to another computer the image files will not be there.
Include Available Previews - will save you time in rebuilding the previews files when you access this Catalog in the future or on another computer.
These (Project) Catalogs can be reopened when needed, or saved to a folder on an external hard disk drive (flash drive, CD-ROM or any other transportable media) for archival storage or transport to another location or computer.
If you look closely at the image above you will see that I have a Firewire drive attached to my computer that is labeled MS-DOS, this is a small Firewire bus powered hard disk drive that I have formated in MS-DOS format so that I can easily swap relatively large files with any computer, whether it is a Macintosh or Microsoft Windows PC.
I organize my Lightroom Catalogs by date and project name but you can basically use the same system that you are now using to organize your files, just remember to give each Lightroom Catalog a unique name so you can locate it easily when you need it.