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We are a community of people who see the value of paper as a medium for planning, productivity, creative expression, and exploring ideas. We encourage visitors to share advice and inspiration, and we love to see submissions for templates, kit images and story articles. We are also the official home of the free D*I*Y Planner kits. Please enjoy your stay, and make yourself at home!

Review: Fan to Pro

Steven Savage is no stranger when it comes to turning his passions into viable career options. The creator of the awesome generator site Seventh Sanctum, which I've mentioned several times on the site here, Savage now coaches people on how their hobbies can push them forward in a business arena. His first book, Fan to Pro, is a wonderful how-to guide on how you can use your hobbies and fandoms to build or improve your careers. This book isn't like any other business or career guide. Savage focuses on the things what you do outside of the office and the cube farm and shows you how to turn those hidden talents and gems into new opportunities in career growth.

The basic idea is that we spent a lot of hours involved in our hobbies and passions. In some cases we learn new skills as a result of being involved with them. Savage believes that it is in this area where we can get futile markets for job/career opportunities. Sounds a bit unrealistic? Well, the site you're reading this review on is a real-life example of the principles of this book. Doug taught himself how to use the Adobe Creative Suite so he could save money by creating planner form refills. Then he decided to drop these forms online for others to share. Finally, after seeing how many people out there enjoyed the forms, he decided to create D*I*Y Planner as a destination on the web for paper and pen geeks to hang out and swap new ideas and tips. Without that passion, the D*I*Y Planner form kits would never have existed. And without those forms, then this site and all you passionate people about paper and pens would have to go elsewhere to find ways to connect and geek out on paper and pen products.


Crafting Unique Pens, an interview with Anthony Dupre

Editor’s Note: Luckily for me, my husband’s boss, Anthony Dupre, is a woodmaker and a big do it yourselfer. Two months ago I was gifted with a lovely handmade fountain pen that Anthony crafted from materials my husband selected. I consider this pen a heirloom item and pressured him to tell his tale. Finally, we just sat down to do an interview-style article.

How did you get started in woodworking?
Anthony: A few years ago, I received a small lathe as a christmas present. It was love at first sight. I set it up in my shop / garage and started turning. I started with bowls, goblets, and tool handles and then got hooked on turning pens. 

What motivated you to start creating your own pens?
The inability to find a pen that matched my style (well, within a reasonable budget that is). I also simply enjoy making things from scratch in general. I was also looking for projects I could turn for gift that would get used and not just thrown on a shelf. Pens are a perfect gift in that regard.


New Renaissance Art Circa Giveaway

Our friends at Renaissance Art wanted me to pass on the word that their latest giveaway involves a new Circa cover.

For our 40th giveaway, we’ve got a Classic Size Leather Cover with flap and D-ring snap closure for your Rollabind or Circa brand notebook with 1-inch rings. The Rustic Brown cover features three interior slash pockets and a pen loop. Makes me want to get organized, how about you? Check out the personalization: B.G.C. = BeGone Clutter.

To toss your name into the hat for a chance to win, go visit the Renaissance Art blog and read all about entering.

The Middle Way Method: Wrap Up

The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins by: Dr. SeussThis is the final entry in the Middle Way Planning series. Last November, I introduced this planning system to you. Then I showed you how you could create your own paper-based companion planner. Last month, I showed you how to use the two together. This month I wanted to address any questions you had on the system or its components.

When I put the call out for input, I was hoping to have a list of 10 to 25 good questions. I envisioned readers would come back with holes that I had not foreseen. Instead most readers discussed the use of Mission Statements and Vision Statements. There was also one question about Roles and their use in planning. Therefore, this article will have three sections. I will discuss Roles, Mission Statements, and Vision Statements as they relate to the Middle Way Method.

I want to start this article off by asking you a question. Imagine you have a jar. In front of the jar you have several bowls filled each with rocks, pebbles, sand and water. You are asked to fill the jar completely with all the items. What would you do?

Review: I'd Rather Be in the Studio

First, I'd like to apologize to the author, Alyson B. Stanfield, for having taken a year to read and review this book. She graciously gave me a copy and in between my busy schedule, and reading the book, I got lost. In fact, I started this book three times over. Not because it was a bad book but because it was so chock full of good advice that every time I picked it up and read a bit more, my mind would churn and I'd go off to put some of her advice into practice. Time passed and I'd have to go and start it all over, just so I could make sure I gave the book a proper reading to write this review.

I'd Rather Be In the Studio is an amazing book that, while targeting artists looking to build their business and promote themselves, I'd highly recommend it to anyone looking to promote their passions. Stanfield structures the book around eight basic excuses that artists (and writers, *ahem* *cough*) conjure up when faced with marketing and self-promoting themselves and their work— excuses such as "I don't have the time," or "There aren't enough hours in the day to do it all," or "I'm an introvert." Stanfield refutes each excuse in detail before going into the action-chapters that help to combat each excuse. For example, she mentions in the "My art speaks for itself" excuse that an artist's work never really speaks for itself, that when others say things about an artist's piece of art, they are simply reacting to it (good or bad). Then she follows up this section with two chapters: one that shows you how to harness the power of an artist statement, and another on speaking or teaching as an expert in the field.

Implementing the Middle Way Method

my planner systemWow, a new year, a new planning method, and a new planner. We're all set, or are we? As you recall from the introductory article, I created the Middle Way Method to help take advantage of the best aspects of top down, and bottom up planning. Soon after creating the methodology, I realized that in order to put this practice to work, I'd need to hack together a new planner, which I've called the Middle Way notebook. I showed you how to create one of your own last month.

Now I'd like to take some time and look at how the method, system, and journal all work together to create planning nirvana. In this article, I'll guide you through the process of working with the Middle Way Method System and corresponding planner. We'll use the methodology's step by step planning process to guide you through real-life examples (from my life) of how I use the forms and method. The whole weekly planning process usually takes me 15 to 30 minutes, unless I choose to journal for a longer amount of time. To help you understand this process, I'll be using examples from my personal life.

Building a Custom Middle Way Planner

Editor's Note: Hey gang, sorry this article is late in posting, it has been done for awhile but since it features a huge nine-book signature upload, we've been having a hard time locating server space to host the files. We're putting the files on Jordan's site for now; so go easy on his web server. Thanks for your patience!


My Complete SystemLast month, I introduced you to the The Middle Way Method, which is a productivity system I made up that works for me. Today I'm going to show you the kit that I made for use with that system. One of the reasons I created this system was because I wanted to ditch the binder. I've been wanting to create my own books for a while now, and this gave me the perfect opportunity to show off my creative skills. I'm currently using the first book I made as a journal; and my second, third, and fourth books become the basis of my planner.

As you can see from the first photograph, my kit has three parts: a 9-signature planning book, and two single signature sub-notebooks: a Weekly Diabetes Tracker (containing 6 weeks of data) and an address book. I also keep a stash of index cards inside the kit, when I need them.

Before you set about to create your own kit, I suggest you read the following articles:

Dynamic Templates v2.05: The Next Generation

The D*I*Y Planner Dynamic Template application has now hit version 2.0, ready to produce any size and shape of yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily calendars for your printing pleasure. All designs are based upon the Classic versions of the D*I*Y Planner, along with input from Doug, and so will integrate completely into your DiyP setup. (The daily design was created by Doug, but was never implemented as a static template owing to the insane amount of repetitive work required.)

Simply select your paper size, choose the calendar type, and tweak the settings to come up with your own printable set of calendars that perfectly fit your planner and your lifestyle.

The Mac version was built in Mac OS 10.4.11, using Qt 4.5.2
Here's a shot of the Mac version as it starts up:

A Review of the Pomodoro Technique

My friend, Colin, started using the Pomodoro Technique a month ago. Today he wrote about his experiences (so far) with this timed productivity method.

It has been one month as of today that I started using the Pomodoro Technique at work in an attempt to increase my productivity. I think that after a month of use I can provide an evaluation of the technique; what I find good about it along with some of the negative sides. While I think that using pomodoros has increased my productivity overall, there are still some gaps that I have yet to discover ways of filling.

Go visit his blog to read his lengthy review of how the Pomodoro Technique fits into his life. Perhaps it might inspire you to give it a whirl and boost your productivity?