"The Door Is Open, Come On In..."

Buster KeatonWelcome to the opening day of our little homestead. No need to wipe your feet: we're laid back here, and don't fret much about a little mud on the carpet. In fact, it gives the place that lived-in feeling, where people feel free to drop on by, grab a cup of tea, and join a lively discussion or two. No fancy-schmansy plastic coverings for couches here.

I'm your host, Douglas Johnston, whom you may or may not know from a million monkeys typing down the road, as well as the printable template system called the D*I*Y Planner. (That isn't me at left, by the way.) Other than that, I'm just a guy trying to be useful and spread around a little good karma.

What's that, my friend? Oh yes, I hear that too: it's the faint chiming of the inevitable utterances of "Oh, please... another productivity/ do-it-yourself/ lifehacks cult site set up solely to grab for dollars...." We'd like to put this notion to rest right away. This isn't a scheme to lure away the grand party going on over at 43 Folders, nor throw eggs at the doors of LifeHacker or LifeHack.org or GTD@OfficeZealot or the DavidCo Forums, nor compete with anything else in the neighbourhood we've visited in our meandering quests for effectiveness.

In fact, we've been around for a while already: that somewhat stale birthday cake you see on that table over there is for the D*I*Y Planner... it's hard to believe that more than a year has gone by since I first introduced it at a million monkeys typing. From all indications, a lot of people are finding the free kits a great day-to-day tool for organising their life, stimulating a thought here or there, and even wrapping a bit of structure around their little pieces of chaos. But this product has long ago outgrown its little monkey cage, and it was time to build it a bigger home, one with cozy guest rooms, plenty of breathing space, and a nice big kitchen to entertain passers-by with a friendly chat and a spot of tea. (That's what we do, in my part of the world.) It's taken some time, along with a lot of barn-raising from good friends who helped nail code together, insulate the foundation, move the heavy furniture, and clean the windows, but now it's fit to invite people over.

Oh yes, why we're different.... I'll try to break it to you gently: we aren't about productivity, at least not in the same way as those excellent sites we mentioned earlier. We're lovers of paper, really. We've found ways of doing wonderful things with our lives using pens and pencils and forms and notebooks. True, that includes keeping ourselves organised, but it also allows us to venture a step or two further. After all, what's time spared if we can't do something with it? That might include exploring the twisting pathways of ideas, logging dreams and daily musings, constructing relics of our lives, and generally uncovering the passion and creativity that often lie dormant in the right hemisphere of our brains.

Yes, we're aware of a certain irony here, and are fond of it. Here we are, using a website to gather. And we use digital technologies to create and share forms and templates, images and inspiration. But our understanding is that it doesn't have to end there, that we can find further expression in something organic. We are far from Luddites, and in fact many of us are IT professionals (myself included); still, that doesn't preclude finding solutions outside of silicon chips and trendy gadgets, and perhaps rediscovering a lost art or two.

If you fear that I'll be preaching ceaselessly about such topics, I can assure you that this will not be the case. In fact, I can promise you far more than my meandering English-teacher prose at irregular intervals: we have a team of talented writers and contributors from several different walks of life, and other inventive invitees will be providing guest posts with unique perspectives. There is not a single member of this group for whom I do not possess the highest respect and pride.

These dear hard-working people include: eric Farris, my right-hand man, a true Drupal wizard, and the patient porter of the new D*I*Y Planner Letter-Size Edition (coming soon) -- that's him, the quiet guy in the corner; Sacha Chua, avid template fan, starving grad student, and the maintainer of the uber-geek-chic planner-el mode for Emacs -- she's the one juggling in the den; Steve Sharam of whenrealityknocks.com, a connoisseur of human weirdness and foibles, and one of the funniest guys I've ever had the fortune to know -- he's the one who asked if you had seen his missing planner; and Jaymi Elford, a writer, newfound-friend, and diehard journal-keeper overflowing with seemingly endless creative ideas -- she's the one toting the king-size box of Crayolas. I will remain your unassuming host, editor-in-chief, maintainer of the D*I*Y Planner, and --when insomnia inevitably takes hold-- a writer. Each of us will be contributing at least one scheduled original article per week, and there will also be template submissions and stories from other clever people, so we're seeking to guarantee something new here every day. But please keep in mind that we're all volunteers, and we're doing this simply because we love it, so we must beg your patience accordingly at times.

Please, a last-minute round of applause is owed to all the resourceful template designers who have already contributed to the site, sowing the seeds of something great for all of us. Thanks too, to the eagle-eyed testers who helped fine-tune this site over the past week and offered helpful suggestions, including Chris Brown, Robert Lynch, Chris Parsons and David Pine... gentlemen, please stand up and take a bow. Finally, my deepest appreciation goes out to Brad Reid, a talented artist and my lifelong friend, who created the stylish Escher-esque illustration gracing our front porch.

The doors are unlocked, the kettle's steaming, and the welcome mat is out. Please make yourself at home, my friends.

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Congrats on the new site - it looks great! Don't have much time to browse at the moment, but I look forward to doing so. Hope you get lots of visitors. : )


This looks GREAT! Looking forward to visiting often.


Thank you

Well done, Douglas, and the whole team. The site looks great and lives up to all expectations. I look forward to many hours of paper-oriented pleasure!


Congrats on getting the site together. This should be a great resource for all of us using paper based productivity tools.

Everything looks great!

Everything looks great! Congratulations on a job well done, Doug, to both you and your cohorts.

Bravo for your Bravura

Your site is gorgeous. The templates are marvelous. And your contribution is priceless. A million kindnesses to you.


A little late to the dance, but glad to see you have the site up. I'm going back to paper for various reasons and this site, along with the "Million Monkeys..." site will continue to the few I visit daily.

Well done!