Sometimes you get a little thirsty.

Well Maiden, Dover Collection

"When the well's dry, we know the worth of water." - Benjamin Franklin

I used to store a lot of my articles-in-progress in Google Docs so I could work on them from any computer, but lately I've migrated most of them into regular ole' text files that sync amongst all my laptops using Dropbox (even my Linux boxes). That way I can edit HTML text in Emacs or TextMate, keep graphics and photos handy, and easily organize them in a logical directory structure. The system is working quite well, but it assumes that I have a decent memory for all those things that came before. (I don't. This is why I write things down.)

I was working on a rather involved article this long weekend. Despite my exhaustion at the time and the complexity of its structure, the words and the shaping of the concepts came quite freely. So much so, that I was feeling quite proud of myself. I was about three-quarters of the way through the rough draft when I said out loud, "This is going unbelievably well. It's almost like I wrote it before...." I paused. I thought about what I just....

Well... erm... that is... *cough*.

What I wrote was basically a carbon-copy of my old Simpleton and the Grail post from my much-fallow a million monkeys typing blog. In my defense, it was four years ago, and it didn't show up in my search.

But the experience begs a question: am I just recycling myself? I know that some of us here tend to drift towards the same themes again and again (a lament I've heard Merlin bemoan on several occasions), and maybe those well-travelled paths form ruts that allow the carriage-driver to fall asleep at the reins, knowing that the horse knows the way. Sometimes it's hard to keep up the energy needed to spend a few hours writing when the scenery is the same.

To that end, I'm looking for ideas. What sort of articles would you like to see here on DIYPlanner? What reviews, what techniques, what products, what angles should we pursue?

Please tell us what you'd like to see, no matter how small, how grandiose, how wacky, how insignificant, or how out-of-place it might seem. Let's refill the well of our inspiration. Leave us your ideas.

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Some of My ideas

1.) more planner print-out-things.
That's originally what got me over at this site, and why I followed it. I love the things I've gotten off here, and they're indespensible to my daily life.
Maybe a diyplanner calendar for 2010?
I forget if the pocket planner thingy that you make from a single sheet of paper was mentioned here yet....if not, someone should do a write-up on it.
2.) more reviews, please. I know there's tons of blogs that do reviews already, but I can always use more, from people that use pens or paper in different ways than how I use them, or how others use them.
3.) I have no idea if you guys have a flickr group or not, but you should. and then people should be invited to blog about their data organization and how they use their tools to get them through everyday life. The idea of this is to inspire others to get more organized themselves.
4.) In the vein of product reviews, small giveaways would be wise. That usually attracts oodles of readers, even if it's just a free pen or an index card briefcase or something -small-. People love the free.
5.) I cannot stress enough how important it would be to offer up planner downloads. A lot of people have their own printers, or access to a printer, and even if it's pretty easy to make up their own calendar or graph or something to make a planner or index card for keeping track of things, a lot of them would rather just download something and print it out.
6.)different brands of index cards reviewed here, and maybe a hunting down of the best index card price on the net and in stores for regular, 4x6, graph paper, portrait lined, and blank index cards. These things are important to people. ^.^ Another review that would rock would be on the sturdyness of the japanese slide clips, reviewed by....OfficeSupplyGeek? I think, a while back. I would like to see if they hold up as well as the ones from Levenger. Maybe a rundown of the different ways to come up with your own planner(I for example, don't like the GTD system, it just seems too complicated and bulky for me).
7.) finally, I think you angle should remain as it is, diy planner. A planner concocted from your own means, or your own way of putting things together to make it work for you. It's important to see how others organize their lives, and I'm always glad to learn new ways to do something.


I agree with more reviews and keeping the templates up to date.

I love ygor's dynamic templates but they still need a little work. including some documentation.

The widget kit is still 0.6, can we get a 1.0 version?

Version 3 of the templates had rounded corners on the right edge that isn't in the widget kit or the dynamic templates.

You mentioned Dropbox, what's that? How do you use it?

There was some discussion about writing software, maybe we could get a rundown of of features and reviews?

How about a community lead review of their daily practices? (as an admin you have access to everyone's email and could send a questionnaire)

If you ask me even though the from page doesn't change every day I come back often to see what is going on in the forums. I would hate to see disappear, just last month I needed to re download the templates due to a data-ocalypse (hard drive failure). Even though posters come and go here and there are some fads (rollabind / circa anyone?) the community is nice, helpful, and thanks to ygor spam free.

Merlin Mann asks his audience, what are you passionate about? That's what you should be writing about, and I'll ask you dougj what are you spending everyday thinking about?

Me it's ubiquitous capture. Will I need that thought later? What about that one?

Yes, please, more

I, too, would like to see more DIY planning and organization sheets/templates/etc. to add to our notebooks. I'd especially love to see more small things that might be tucked into a business card case or even printed on the back of a business card. (I like to travel light!)

Also, more articles on time. Saving time, using time better, prioritization, planning, and the like. Anything that helps me capture my thoughts and get my regular tasks into my ToDo List.

But, that being said, I do love your articles. Thanks for writing them.

In my business...

In my job as an academic, it is customary to do some recycling, sometimes a lot. When you work on such long research projects that it can take up to a decade to fishish the research (let alone the writing of the book/s), you end up writing conferences and articles on pretty much the same topic for all of that time. If on top of that, if you managed to do some seminal work on a given topic, you'll be talking about it for decades to come, even if you've moved way beyond that. It's just the way it is. Some people manage to never do anything else and recycle the same research forever. I have a colleague who did extraordinary work 20 years ago on the importance of Basque copper pots in the Native trade in the 16th century, but he's still milking it to this day. I have been working on my current project for 7 years now and I am only now winding down towards the book. So you can imagine how often I've given the introductary conference paper on the project. You end up writing the same sentence over and over again, even when you're trying to write a different one.


One could look at it as "recycling" one's ideas... I prefer to think of it as "refining". Like Tournevis, I have researched various topics over many years and have given talks on those topics the whole time. I repeat myself, certainly - but I often come up with fresh insights or additional, valuable refinements as well.

As regards subject matter for articles - I think reviews in general are very useful here. Particularly with this economy, it is great to be able to get the opinion of likeminded souls on particular books, papers, notebooks, pens, etc. before buying long distance. Innowen, especially, has had some good reviews in the last few months (thanks!). And before I bought my label maker a few weeks ago, I trotted right over to DIYP to ask around (I did get a PTouch on clearance -- thanks all!).

I've been thinking about "planning cycles" lately, as opposed to the "planning process". A planning process is the daily review, etc. that one might do in time management. By "planning cycle", I think I mean more the fact that I cycle through different time management and planning styles depending on what is going on in my life. The planning process has changed for me as my life has changed. For example, my planning process now is much different than when I was single, or planning my wedding, or pregnant (and doing business travel too)... My life phases have engendered changes in my planning needs and style - I wonder if something along those lines might be of interest to others - I definitely would be interested in seeing how others fit ongoing life changes (kids school events and all) into their planning routines (and kits).

How about how processes and kits differ from "desk day" to "meeting day" to "travel days"? I never seem to get the travel streamlining just right and am constantly changing what I end up with. Circa has helped a lot, in being able to take just one notebook and still stay organized when I get back home.

I occasionally switch up how I have my physical desktop organized to see if it improves productivity. I'm a teleworker, so that may be easier for me than for others - but I would be very interested in any tweaks anyone else has implemented.

With all the recent talk here about our grips on pens and the ergonomic considerations thereof, maybe some more general ergonomic issues (from best notebooks for lefties to paper cut avoidance) might be of interest. Desk chair reviews might also be nice (I need a new one...)

Another thought is a discussion of environmental considerations. In many ways, a DIY Planner could be the ultimate in recycling. On the flip side, we're using more paper than some others might... but maybe reducing our carbon footprint by turning off our computers more... I'm not sure how that would all balance out. :-)

Just a few thoughts - I just love DIYP!!

Quick Tips Help

I love planner hacks and the quick tips posts. I hope to see more of those, especially anything on how a minimalist like myself can keep things organized but . . . well . . . minimal. For example, how can I identify categories in my planner that were once colour coded on my Palm PDA without carrying around 4 highlighters?

Too much stuff/information/choice overloads my brain and makes me physically tired, and I've found that short snippets of information like hacks and quick tips are just perfect for me.

Post 3! Don't worry. I won't keep counting.

Sharpie makes a mini

Sharpie makes a mini highlighter about 9cm/3.5" in length with a metal clip on the cap that can be used to attach the highlighter(s) to say a binding ring or similar. Perhaps not minimalist but at least not too bulky.

Bob H.

Sharpie Tip

Thanks for the tip, Bob. Much appreciated.

double ended highlighters at jetpens

Check out, they have double ended highlighters in various colors.

insomnia cure

some ideas...

- reviews of writing software would be good, or hacks to them. I know some writing software has been reviewed here but maybe a quick page of links to what's been reviewed with new ones added. (I'd be willing to do a MacJournal taco hack article. I've actually hacked the Taco and could even supply a taco.plist of journal prompts if anyone would like one.)

- hacks on index cards (I ONLY use 4x6 cards because they are the BEST size. *grin...troll bait*)

- browser only self-modifying files reviews/templates (WikiOnStick, TiddlyWiki, others?). These are all free and work on any OS so are interchangeable between work and home

- review of waterproof pens

- flickr group would be cool

insomnia cure


Actually - a Flickr group is a great idea. So great, I guess some of our tireless leadership must have thought of it a while back... :-)

I just jump on board! haha

I just jump on board! haha

Some more ideas and a request for help

"when doing is more important than medications"

Love the site and the great tools!
But what I could use is a process or processes for tracking stuff. It has to be simple to remember. Let me explain. I had a mild traumatic brain injury several months ago (analog translation: I hit my head falling backwards). That night I had a small stroke (lacunar stroke). Things are OK but memory and cognition is still messed up. I am a project manager and a trainer so these problems have a tendency to really mess me up. The Hipster was great for tracking before the accident but now it is inadequate. There are many times that I think I got the gist of the conversation but then later on I can't remember it. I can't count the number of times I have left home without my notecards or full size planner. Writing stuff on scraps of paper is pretty much a guarantee that I will lose it.
Occupational therapists are great at helping people with major head injuries and strokes but all I get from them is "write it down on cards." Great advice, but I have trouble tracking the cards. Let's not even talk about managing and tracking emails (Gmail GTD is great when I can use Firefox-not possible at work).
The kicker in this whole thing is that my workplace had no idea of what happened and during this time of layoffs it is not smart to announce it (ADA does not work if the position you are in is RIF'd).
Sorry for the rambling but I am looking for anything that will keep me afloat until memory gets better or I have a process in place that lets me do my job.
Thanks and Happy Holidays!


I don't have a full appreciation of your situation but I have always found checklists helpful as memory aids. The catch being to develop the habit(s) to check them so initially at least you may need to place a reminder somewhere obvious such as a tag on your house keys or stuck to a door in your house and/or at work.

The other thing I do for things that may not require action but need to be kept on the radar is post reminders in my planner. As well as 'waiting on' items like returned emails and phone calls I also post reminders about future events such as a department meeting next week, the car service I have booked and so on.

Hope this helps and my best wishes for a speedy recovery.

Bob H.

Thanks, Bob. ocdgeek is my neighbor...a progress report on him

ocdgeek would have responded earlier but he forgot where he posted his comment! He is sitting right next to me so this response is not an end run around him. The biggest problem for ocdgeek is not making lists but remembering 1)where they are and 2)to use them. He is getting better but he still is pretty much in the here and now, with difficulty remembering the past and forecasting into the future. He explains it this way: it is like looking in the pantry: you know things are missing but you can't figure out what they are. Right now he is carrying around the January 2010 page from a large desk blotter/calendar (it must be 18"x24"). The thing is big enough that he can write everything on it, fold it up and put it in his pocket (the large lump reminds him where it is) and at the end of the day he pins it up on the wall.
The sad thing is that he is a doctoral student and halfway through his dissertation when this happened. It's getting better, but the prognosis of everything being back to normal in 6-9 months is frustrating. I might add that he is so bright that no one at work (he is a mid-level manager for a state agency) knows that there is anything wrong.
Another thing that is (hopefully) helping is a Commonplace Book. He takes all of his notes from meetings (very detailed, I might add) and glues them onto a page. Then he transfers the data onto his huge calendar page and puts the page number next to it. He has only been at this about a week but it looks promising.
Thanks for your help in this. If anyone has any other ideas, please let us know.

P.S. anyone got a template for a large monthly calendar? those desk pads are friggin' expensive and he needs a little bit bigger one than he can find.

@Scrivener - Thanks

Thanks for the update Scrivener. Unfortunately injuries like this have their own timeline and all we can do is follow it, frustrating as it is.

Assuming we talk the same language here, have you considered simply hand drawing a calendar onto flipchart page. The size is I think about 50% larger in both dimensions though paper quality could be better. Not sure of pricing but I expect a pad of lower quality paper would be cheaper than a preprinted calendar pad of higher quality paper.

Once again my wishes to Ocdgeek for a complete recovery.

Bob H.

Hi. On the subject of


On the subject of hand-drawing onto big paper, I *love* transparency projectors for this. Print the thing you want to draw onto a letter size transparency, then slap the transparency onto the projector and aim it at the flip chart. Trace the image you see onto the paper.

It would work for things you don't have to draw too often, anyway.

Alternatively you could check your local print shops and see if they can do large-format printing, and simply ask them to enlarge the calendar of your choice onto large paper..Dunno what it would cost but it doesn't hurt to ask.

Another alternative would be to take a bunch of smaller pieces of paper (just barely pocket size, for example) and bind them up into a book to carry. The pocket size nature of the book would be handy, and with enough sheets it would be bulky to remind him which pocket it's in. Some fold-out pages might be useful, as in the examples in my flickr pool (Linky). Foldouts might be small enough for him to print or copy on letter or legal paper..


Bob and Shris: Thank you! Dynamic Templates are another solution

These are great ideas! ocdgeek thinks they can work for him: repetition and multiple reminders help the memory.
Shortly after posting we found that we can adjust the Dynamic Templates to print out a two page per month calendar on ledger size (11x17) paper. I have a big enough printer that it can handle it, but it also can be done by a copy shop. The trial ones I ran jsut need to be taped together in the middle. It folds up comfortable into a 5 1/2 " x 4 1/4 " that can fit in the back pocket. Some of the copy shops are very cautious about copying anything that is copyrighted or owned by anyone but the submitter (gotta love intelectual property laws!). I have been setting these up and saving them as pdfs. ocdgeek is going to drop the disk off at the copy shop and pick them up later tomorrow. When he called the shop they said they could stretch out a pdf file to just about any size. They also didn't have a problem with stuff on disk.
Thanks again!

Glad you like my Dynamics

I would love to see a pic of this 11x17 setup.
Is it many smaller pages printed onto one big fold-up sheet or what ?

If I can see what you are trying to make, I may be able to suggest shortcuts.
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

Book layout


I think 11x17 is two letter size sheets stuck together on the long edge, like when you have a letter size planner open with a page on the left and right.

So you could do 2-up letter on a tabloid (11x17) sheet with no shrinking or squeezing. Or you'd enlarge the letter size image to fill a tabloid sheet, and then have another tabloid sheet next to it taped together, thus making a smallish newspaper. :)


I found a couple of ways but ....

Can't do a pix (no digital cam) but what I have been able to do is print each page on an 11x17 and then tape them together to get a 22x17. I found that by setting the print properties as printing on 11x17 paper and then expanding to fit the page. I have an old printer (on its last legs) that can handle 11x17. A more accessible way is to print the page (8.3x11) and then enlarge it on a copier so I end up with four 8.5x11 sheets that I tape together. I have tried copying 1/2 of each pdf page as an image and then pasting to a doc and then stretching it to fill the page, but this had lousy resolution. A local copy center has the ability to print each page onto 11x17 but it is more than I or ocdgeek want to pay at this point.

The other thing we found is that it is best to write on this with a pencil rather than ink. When it is in the back pocket the ink gets smudged and runs if it gets wet from rain or snow.

I would love to have some easier ways to do this. The template really looks good blown up to this size. Lots of space to write on, draw arrows and reminders to connect events and due dates. The package you created is fantastic!