Time for a formal introduction

I guess you can call me an activ loiterer, having made a number of posts, but not really introduced myself. Its a bit like those emails, the ones you really want to answer in detail but delay the longest, 'caue you feel you have to do them justice, and just haven't the time to do so. And time goes by, and it becomes more difficult.... Anyhow, all my fellow countryfolk introducing themselves today, was the nudge in the ribbs for me to come out of the woodwork. So, another UK nube. Hi everyone.

Ah, paper, card, pencils, scissors, glue. It goes beyond writing or planning. My passion has been creating with paper and card since at least as far back as age five (a year after the Beatles were formed). My first actual memory of paper craft was making sunglasses (with coloured sweet wrappers as 'glass'), sandals and pretence records with sleeves, and plenty of booklets. At various times in my life they would be stapled, glued, stitched or ring-bound, and served as journals, address books, records and (age 9-ish) the vessel for a novel, which never got beyond about page two. I will write a whole novel one day, honest. Raw material was mostly recyled card and scrap paper, though as a teenager with a little pocket money, I would spend much of it on stationaty. But the DIY bug never left me, and coupled with ingrained thrift and the twisted idea that those nice books I had were 'too good to be used', I eventually returned along that path, and never went down the Moleskine equivalent one. There does seem to be a big gap in my memory about how I did my planning in years gone by, and can't even recall a diary or to-do list. There was a school timetable in the early days, but as an adult I seem to have just 'obsessed'. My employment never required any planning, I had fixed hours and was either told what to do, or it was simple enough not to require planning. At home, I would get so stuck into a project, that I would just drop everything else, and go at the project 'hammer and tongs' - often literally, with home renovations. I would do things when they were needed, or when I could get them done. I guess I was simply goal driven then, which certainly got lots done. I do remember little notepads, spiralbound often, which I used for noting down ideas, along side the usual back of the envelope sketch, literally.

I made my real, proper planner in 1990, a leather bound A6 two-ring binder (the pictures are of the old binder, but with the early form of the slip method of organisation I started using). I wanted the flexibility and low cost of utilising my own paper, and using a simple, cheap standard punch. It had several sections, which have changed marginally over the years, but always contained, in reverse order, a contact section, my journal (a few months of blank paper, filled in with date as I go along to give as much or as little space to a day as needed, and periodically archived with twine binding), a record section to keep track of things, a general note section, and the diary section at the front. Deviders were made of thin card, with handcut tabs, and there is a slash pocket in the front and an envelope in the back for holding stamps and lists. The diary consisted of a double page year planner, for firmly fixed appointments and other dates, hand drawn every year. Then there were about four to six weeks of week-per-page sheets, also hand drawn periodically, and simply had eight horizontal fields for the days, plus a blank one at the bottom for jobs that could be done any day. There was still a lot of re-writing. Then I developed the slip method, which was partly inspired by Andrew Durham's unfolder wallet , which is unfortunatly not on his website any longer, but the internet archive, with pictures still hosted by another site, and T-cards, as well as some GTD basics. The slips carry one action each, and can be moved around the system as needed. The system has a tickler as its organising core. But that, as they say, is the subject for another post in Kits and Equipment. My favoured writing instrument has always been a pencil, and where more permanence is required, a simple Parker jotter ballpoint pen. Lately I have discovered the virtues of mechanical pencils.

The current system is still in its infancy, but there are many aspects I really like about it, and will certainly retain the basic system, unless I come up with a better idea, and as most of you know, the perfect planner is just around the corner. The combined creative output of all of you here has certainly given me a lot of inspiration, and one avenue I would like to explore is the Circa/Rollabind binding system.

Oh, and digital planning? Nah, definatly not my cuppa. I'm a paper prOn addict.

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Who is the fifth Beatle?... :O

(To be read in the style of Danger Man)

Hi Judy

As everyone else is too busy reading spam it looks as if I will have to say it: "Welcome to the forum". :)

Its a bit like those emails, the ones you really want to answer in detail but delay the longest, 'caue you feel you have to do them justice, and just haven't the time to do so...

I know that feeling only too well...

My passion has been creating with paper and card since at least as far back as age five (a year after the Beatles were formed)...

Really? All I can say is country life must suit you. ;)

...Lately I have discovered the virtues of mechanical pencils.

I have recently switched from a rotring Tkky 0,5 and Staedtler 2 mm clutch pencil to a very cheap 0,7 mm Pilot eno. I replaced the lead with ones from Staedtler. Now I have the one pencil for drawing and adding contacts to my Filofax. :)

...as most of you know, the perfect planner is just around the corner.

Ah yes the questing beast; an elusive chimaera bristling projects and plans...

...one avenue I would like to explore is the Circa/Rollabind binding system.

I like the idea of the three disc hPDA. However, at 148 USD for a Taiwanese paper punch(Punch, shipping, duty, VAT) and goodness knows how much for a few plastic discs, not mention the carbon debt... I remain sceptical as to it superior planning powers. After all Frisch helped discover nuclear fission armed only with a few cloth bound notebooks and 6.75" x 3.75" six ring leather binder... No wait, I think he may have owned a really 'cool' writing instrument too. :D

Noob to Noob

I'm with ya up to the 'perfect' part. As I have posted previously today, every time I get a plan worked out, I am destined to rip it up completely and recreate.

Just when I thought I was totally sold out on the simple paper plan, innowen posts the [mind-mapping series]. Off I trot to find a mind mapping tool on the web I vaguely remember. This leads to a side-trip to peek at journaling software. This leads full circle back to the electronic plan.

So I find a journaling software bit, fiddle with a mind-mapping web app and *poof* I am a hybrid...again.
Write wild notes all over the ejournal, print it
when the info is needed in hard copy.

I irritate myself
WBF 8)

[wbf plan?]

let the tool fit the task


I'm sorry; then again they don't call me a terrible enabler for nothing! *giggles* Really was only trying to help present both analog and digital ideas. *grin* If you ask me, I totally prefer the analog aspect to planning over any computer.

It's what I know (writing) and it's what's stuck with me. No matter what technique I try or software package I install, nothing beats the use of index cards or journals. I love flipping through a tangible stack of cards that tells me what's been in my brain.

I'm sure the apps look shiny (they do to me!) but I'm sure you'll find yourself going back to analog-paper writing constantly.

Don't be irritated... let the tool fit the task. If you want to keep electronic journals... then do it; if you're more comfortable writing in a book... do that!

I'm not sure there's such a thing as one "perfect" system... mine's been (d)evolving for a long time now and just when I think I have it figured out, something new (application or gear wise) comes along and I get to fiddle with it. I believe the fiddling is what keeps the system in balance and working. If it got static... we'd discard it. We need the shiny to keep us in line.

Keep playing and keep sharing!

Tools, more tools, Where...?

Dear innowen,

You would have to use the word tools. There are three things
I am known for by those who know; gadgets, new gadgets and well made favorite gadgets. I believe this is part of my problem. That pic of wbfplan? is no joke. I left out all the porting containers, the 5x7 post album [I actually forgot about]
and the fat square which is just for software. We will not discuss in polite company, the scrabook, the shelf of regular three rings for projects, school or any sort of paper file folders.

The one very good thing this site has done for me is keep me out of the Office Supply store. It's a childhood thing.
I am perfectly content to mostly lurk, fiddle with templates
and punch my 4x5s in a peculiar stair-step stacking format.
Eventually I will post the follow-up to that pile I posted
on Flickr. In the meantime, it is comforting to know there
is a slice of the polis who are as goofy as me about all
things organizational.

WBF 8)
...off to finish the project I employed mind-mapping
techniques in. [damn those infinitives]

Spoken like an action hero

Thanks for the welcome, Sardonis. Yes, I stumbled on a load of spam too, think it was shoes, on every forum.

I hear you on the Circa/Rolla. Thanks for bringing me back to one of my mottos (but one I really struggle with) - simplify. I shall try to use what is available to me, and bring forward the experiment with 'poor-man's-Circa', the ring version of my 'linear Rollodex', using wire, two-hole punch and sissors - similar to what Sarah did with Rollabind disks.

wbf - I think its our destiny to be seeking the perfect planner, and somehow I don't think any of us here really, truly want to be cured of our addiction. As Lisa said, its a hobby. It sure takes you on merry discovery trip, leading you down some very unexpected paths, and branches. The creative mind is never satisfied, and where it continues to find food, it will feed.


Hi and welcome judyofthewoods,

I just bookmarked your blog a few days ago. I should admit that calling this diy planning a hobby is something I read on this site a few months ago. So I was just propagating the wisdom.

Many years ago I read a book called "Time Management for Unmanageable People." It is great and even has cartoon drawings. Two things I learned from that book still stick with me:

1) Creative types love planners and office supplies. If they stick to one system they get bored and become less productive. They are most productive if they renew and refresh their systems occasionally.

2) You will never get finished with all your work. We are taught as children to do our chores first, then we can play. But, as adults, we will never get done. We will never finish our to do lists, so we have to allow for play time even anyway. This concept really let me relax my standards so I could enjoy my life.

Lisa PT

A rose by any other name

Thanks for the welcome, Lisa. 'Unmanagable People' is certainly something I can identify with. I have long lernt that its best to accept the unruly streak as the flip side of creativity and not fret about it, its just the way it is. I've discovered that the passion for office supplies and the search for the latest hack has had some very unexpected spin-offs. Hawk's card system has inspired a foraging guide I am currently working on. I won't give away too much now, but when you see the guide, you will see the connection streigh away. I think it has the potential to be a good little earner. The reaction amongst my friends so far has been 'when can I get the guide?'. So next time you feel guilty about tweeking your system, just think that some of the greatest inventions have come out of people being dissatisfied with something, and tried to do something about it. Edison famously said about his long-term fiddeling with the lightbulb 'I have not failed, I just found 10,000 ways that don't work'. And, as you say, you have to build in play.

Hello from Sweden

I've been visiting this site since I read about it in the Boston Globe back in 2005. The topic of paper vs digital planners has been with me the last 23 years of my working life in a multinational corporation. I started to see the issues coming when the company started linking factory computer systems with the office PC's. Nobody in management could agree on what PC and mainframe application to use. We had the beginnings of email, chat and intranet back in 1988 without knowing it but blew it. Ever since then I've been bouncing back and forth between analog paper and a multitude of digital Niqnaqs.

Management actually got it together and we started to use Outlook about 15 years ago and all 20,000 of us were hooked up with each other. There was a lot of information to track, digest and pass on. I kept on writing, making notes, synchronizing and switching between analog and digital every year. Talk about schizoid behaviour!!!It never occured to me that forms like the Almanac could be printed on A5 paper and put in the Time Planner binder I scribbled and planned my time with. That binder finally fell apart 2 years ago so I threw out all my forms and relied totally on my Dell laptop with Wifi. What a dream come true I was REALLY hooked up! Alas, one day I found my old Parker and Mont Blanc fountain pens and started to scribble again. It felt good!

I have now finally got it together and surrendered to allowing this dichotomy to exist in my life :

- Paper systems do not need electricity and you can write anywhere but not communicate.

- PC systems need electricity and you can communicate with anyone who has the same setup.

When I feel like scribbling in my new Filofax on forms from this site or gather emails and files on my PC from Outlook I have to do a weekly "analog/digital sweep and synchronize" excercise. I've been at it for about 6 months and it seems to work. The important thing to remember is where the up to date info and planning is kept like Allen says. At the moment I prefer the binder and use printouts from Outlook and DIY forms.

The moral of my story is that badly managed IT projects have done a lot for keeping the old pad and paper concept alive!