"Well, it's about time..."

No, I'm not dead. Although I can understand why some people believe that.

As much as I dearly love this site, and all the interesting people that have sprung up from nowhere to contribute their experiences, their ideas and their passions, life has thrown me a curveball or two.

Back when this site began, I was living in Newfoundland, Canada. I was doing contractual work (web development, training and marketing/communications consulting), and owing to the scarcity of such jobs in that locale, was blessed with plenty of spare time. I could afford to spend a thousand hours (yes, that many) working on hundreds of forms. I had just had a child, was surrounded by supportive family members, and life was relatively easy.

Today is different. I live in beautiful Yellowknife, Northwest Territories --yes, that's near the Arctic Circle-- where I have a job that requires me to perform my focused best at all hours of the day. (I am an executive at a marketing/communications company, to be precise.) We have had another child, now five, who is severely autistic, pre-communicative though seemingly happy, but who requires constant attention and plenty of patience. I have also had a hernia for the past year, and have recently had back surgery for a ruptured disc, and that's taking a toll on every little physical action I perform, including sitting down.

In short, live is no longer easy, and it's truly difficult to find time for my old passions. Not that I care any less for them, but the energy and time to pursue them is often lacking.

It's rare that I speak of things that are very personal, but I figured I owed you folks an explanation.

So, where are we now?

There have been rumours that I am selling the site. I tend to get an offer or two every month, it's true. But I can't put a dollar figure on this community, knowing that these buyers would only take advantage of the terrific content here to plug every hole with a dozen ads to monetize the resulting mess. No, thank you.

We've had to turn off new user registration because we were being spammed to death. If you would like a user created, for now you can contact me directly at douglasjohnston on gmail.com. State two preferred user names, in case the first is taken. Please be patient and give me a day or two to set you up.

Partly related to our spam issues, I'm afraid the CMS that powers this site, Drupal, is a couple generations old. Upgrading the site two versions is way out of my comfort zone, especially with custom content like the template directories. If you are a Drupal wizard who would like to volunteer to help me take that on, I would very much welcome your help. Once we upgrade, we can build a lot of improvements into the site, including social media, better galleries, better editing/admin tools, quicker moderation, faster response time, and all kinds of wonderful as-yet-thought-of goodness.

Innowen, Steve and the initial DiyP troop have gone on to more regular gigs, and I wish them all the best. They are truly wonderful people, and I love and respect them all. They've contributed so much over the years, and looking back I can't believe the depth and breadth of their hundreds of articles. Most would have run out of ideas after a few weeks, but they kept going, offering us fresh, informative and entertaining posts for years. Astonishing.

Speaking of writers, is there an opportunity for a "next generation" here? By all means! I can't do much by myself. If there is anyone reading this who would like to become a regular writer on this site, please contact me. The only catch is that I don't have the hours of time for editing that I used to. But if you're a talented writer, and would like to live in a stationery store, have a hankering for tinkering with your productivity system, push your creativity far beyond your limits, or love reviewing your cool new pens and notebooks to the utter bewilderment of your friends, you could be a fine fit here. Drop me a line and let's take it from there.

Last but not least, we have ygor. ygor, the amazing. ygor, the dedicated. ygor, the coding guru. ygor, the productivity maven. (ygor, the ill-captitalized.) ygor, the reason why this site still exists. I can't thank him enough, and I don't think any regular visitor to this site could, either. Thanks again, ygor, for keeping the ball rolling and instilling a strong sense of belonging and professionalism throughout this little community. You've been incredible, and there for us all.

So, I'm turning the mic over to you folks here. What would you like to see happen on this site? Any ideas for new features? Perhaps you're a designer and would like to take a crack at a new theme? Any products you'd like to see reviewed? Any stories to share? Tips for analog systems? Odes to your favourite fountain pen?

Let's sweep out the cobwebs, each grab a hammer or paintbrush, and start reconstructing this site into something great again. The foundation is there, reinforced by some tremendous dedication and talent and passion. But I want us to build it together.

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What is the analog version of Viva La France?

Paper paper paper ink?
I'd love to read more about using icons with words for productivity and writing!

User number 16 here

Things do change over the years, don't they? It sounds like career stuff is going well for you, Doug, but personal life always seems to have its challenges. I have drifted away too, aside from staying subscribed to a couple of the site's RSS feeds.

I basically stopped fiddling with my planner once I settled into something that seems to work pretty well for me. (Levenger Circa notebook plus Toodledo, for those who wonder.) I still use my fountain pens, too, but my approach to improving my productivity and reducing procrastination also included trimming out a lot of distractions and side projects... like the productivity-related web stuff I used to do.

I'm still an office supply junkie (I have a box of unused ScanPlan stuff from when they had their liquidation), and I still care about paper productivity stuff, but my priorities have shifted too.

Do you procrastinate?

The tweaker's dilemma

I go through monthly periods when I still delve into pen and paper, and the old passions come back to me. It's amazing to run a Sheaffer 1926 Flattop over some Clairefontaine paper -- it's like it's the only thing in the world that matters at that moment. And then, to break in a new planner, to set up the tabs, to print the forms, to choose the paper, to write one's name on the opening page and an offer of a Guinness if it's returned... it provides a few days of reprieve amongst the daily deluge of a digital lifestyle.

Focus, maybe. That's what it all provides. If only for a few moments.

all my best,

I had the best intentions

I had the best intentions when I posted last. I was getting the ball rolling and printing off forms and analyzing my needs. Heck, we even picked out a new loveseat to fit my "ideal" living room dreams. Then on October 8, we were in a major car collision. I had surgery and just this month began escaping my bed for longer bits of time. I'm up to 5 hours a day at work this week.
I hope to return to my quest for organizing. I got a 2011 Moleskine weekly planner from Amazon for under $6 and some new pens. Onward and upward, right? ^^

-> my blog <----> my blog <--

Hi, Sara. It's great to hear

Hi, Sara. It's great to hear you're up and getting around a bit. I can empathize, having had to spend three weeks recently trying to lie perfectly still and aligned in bed. I hope your condition improves soon, and you can join us again when you feel up to it.

all my best,

I have loved this site and the people here.

Just when I thought I was the only "weird" paper person around, I found this site and knew I was not alone. I have enjoyed all of the forms and the suggestions. I will miss it very much if it must close. I even tried to create some forms, even though I did not have much talent. I have received so much help and I thank you. Thank you Ygor for all you've done.

Life has a way of moving us forward or backward and there is not a lot that we can do about it.

I am thinking positive thoughts about DIY going forward.

Thanks, Mary

Wonderful to hear from you

Hi Doug,

It's wonderful to hear from you. What a challenging time you've had!

My cousin has a severely autistic child. I've seen that, although they have some difficult and tiring days, the pleasure and contentment they receive on the good days is so strong that it's beautiful in its own way.

Some ideas about the site ... hmmm...

How about something simple to make the articles section a little more active. What about a monthly topic posted as an article, that encourages longish replies and may find some reviewers etc in the process?

I'm sure that some of us here would be very happy to brainstorm some ideas for posting through the year, and come up with topics and some words for the next six months or so.

Here's an example for December...

"It's December - time to renew your planner for the New Year."
2012 is fast approaching and it's that time that most planners review their system and set it up for the New Year. We have tools to help you with this < lots of links here >

Calling all DIY Planners, give some hints on what you are doing now
- What changes will you make to your system or is it perfect now?
- What tips to you have for new planners about their systems?
- What changes did you make in the past that you wouldn't do again?


P.S. DIYers please don't answer these questions now. If Doug likes the idea you can answer them on the article. ;)


Good ideas, all. We've had some challenges in the past when we tried "theme weeks" and the like, mostly because we were given to write longish articles instead of shorter, snappier ones, and there was a lot of pressure involved in trying to produce them.

That said, so much of our lives and our productivity is really tied to the calendar that it makes sense to address topics in that way. We just have to remove the stress of trying to create the next epic post. ;-)

all my best,

Thank you for giving us an update. :)

Doug, the site layout, colors and setup are perfect.

Many older sites are dated and newer ones are too "blogish", yours is really great, there is no need to change anything.

I believe most people can relate to your situation, life evolves and responsibilities grow.

I second everything you said about Ygor, he is truly wonderful and the force behind this website.

I really love this site and have written about organizing/planning systems and stationery items. However, no matter how hard I have tried to be cool and objective, I can't. I have strong likes and dislikes when it comes to the subject at hand.

Following Ygor suggestion, I wrote the Avery binder dividers revue, I hope the long and opinionated post was written in a manner compatible with the site.
I would love to write more reviews of organizing/planning items and methods. :)

still alive!

Glad to hear you're still alive and want to see new life breathed into the site. One thing that catches my attention is it seems like many of the people commenting on this post have been around for a while (almost 5 1/2 years for me!) so it would be really interesting doing a serious of mini-articles from long-time members hearing about what they are doing now for their productivity planner systems.

This seems especially timely with the new year rolling around. Short version of my system right now: Levenger Circa Master Zip Folio notebook with a kind of mashup of Staples Arc Calendar pages, Levenger Dividers, Address Book pages, and zip pockets, and Rollabind refill pages. I also have an iPod Touch with TaskPaper for todo list and MacJournal for notes. I always seem to mess around with different apps and systems but I do keep coming back to some combo of Levenger/Rollabind and whatever is the simplest set of apps for iOS and MacOS/X that serve my needs.

Unrelated note - if you want to look at getting Drupal updated on this site, I've run into a couple Drupal developers on the Fountain Pen Network. I'll have to see if they are still around and if they'd be willing to help. Unfortunately I'm lacking Drupal experience and time to be of much help.


Happy New Year

I still visit this site and love the user submitted forms as well as the original system. I have also enjoyed the articles over the years as they have introduced me to other ideas and things to try. I would hate for it to disappear. Much as I try to go digital, I cannot get over using paper to do my planning. Even when working at the computer I jot notes down in a notebook to refer back to later. With paper, I don't worry about having a power source or a charged battery or wifi. I just cannot give up paper no matter how hard some of my friends tease me about it not going totally digital. I hope to see the site continue and blossom again.


I'm a Drupal developer who would like to help you get this site up to date.

I'm a little tight on time in my schedule for a bit, but if you haven't had any other offers by the beginning of March, touch base with me and we can work something out.


Still looking for help?

I'm not sure how much I could come up with to write about since I don't have bottomless pockets for buying products to review, but I do have rather a lot of spare time at the moment, and this site has been very helpful to me in putting together various planning solutions over the years, so I'd be willing to take a crack at helping produce some content for the site.

It would be nice to have someone to brainstorm some ideas with, though, as while I could certainly write up what I use now, it'd be really stretching that to make it last more than an article or two. :)

Glad to see some more activity

To all the wonderful contributors and Doug and ygor it is so great to see some more life in this site once again. That the passion is still around for paper planning and the "retro" instruments that let us do it.
As Del Amitri sang "life gets in the way", of all of us.
I don't visit here often enough, I must admit.
I have been waging the battle of productivity with my iPad 2 -v- notebooks as I found my planner was just too bulky for the everyday commute. But the forms are just what I need. I have been toying with the idea of setting up a hipster PDA.
Procrastination and housework are my two biggest enemies :)
Toodledo.com [web access including printing, plus iPad app - *think reminders that ding* (reminders that ding are very good for me, lol)] seems to be my solution to getting things done on a daily basis at the moment, but for long term planning and properly keeping my lists ticking over I really can't fault paper - printing toodledo and scribbling on the print out with a nice purple Smiggle pen gets my creative goggles on.
Unfortunately I don't have much to contribute to this site except my thoughts, opinions and willingness to review gadgets, websites or articles. I can proofread also.
Still out here ...
the moving cursor having written, blinks on ...

so sad

I went AWOL for a while, having got a new job that required my attention (and time) for ridiculous amounts of time, buying a house, and having my son diagnosed with a milder form of autism at age 10. Right when I was getting burnt out, I got laid off. I decided to change directions and pursue an entirely different career, and when I returned here, to tweak my system (OK, let's be honest - I want a whole new system for the new career, and seriously wanted to play with templates and ideas. Isn't that what we all do??), I was so very sad to see the severe reduction in activity! I'm late to the game, but thank you to all who have contributed and made this site my go-to for planning and productivity!

I hate to see things fall apart, as there really is nothing else like this out there that I've found. I love the user-built feel, and as someone else said, it's not too bloggy.

Thanks to all, behind the scenes and users, who have made this place the wonderful community that it is. I hope we can pass the reins and keep it alive!


More to follow soon.
"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) ***

There's still life on DIY Planner, whoo hoo!

Though my iPad and Note2 phone may seem permanently welded to my hands, I still seek out new pens, new paper, and
another reason to use them. Just found out about Zentangles, so that is also reawakening my love for doodling.
So happy to see your post!

There's still life on DIY Planner, whoo hoo!

Though my iPad and Note2 phone may seem permanently welded to my hands, I still seek out new pens, new paper, and
another reason to use them. Just found out about Zentangles, so that is also reawakening my love for doodling.
So happy to see your post!

Oops, too many clicks! Sorry for double post.

Sad to hear...

Sounds like life threw a real curveball at you indeed.

I wish I could help, but I am not even "visiting" my own Filofax often enough these days, let alone this site. (I do, however, use certain forms I downloaded a few years ago.)

But I do promise to share if I get any forms done myself. I am planning 1-2 at the moment, but getting any usable results is another thing...

- customizing Filofax Personal -