Teaching a DIYPlanner Workshop

I've had a number of requests from people to teach a workshop on how I manage to stay so (*^&^%%$ organized. Of course I know it's not exactly rocket science, it's just a series of (modified) DIYPlanner templates that work for me. In fact my printer hasn't been working so I've actually resorted to photocopying hand drawn templates---while it may not be beautiful, it is messy I mean still effective. ;)

I think it's going to be a September workshop, one half day (afternoon) on the weekend. My plan is to have my own day timer (and archive binder) as an example with a binder, blank templates, a photocopier so that participants can set up their own day timer right at the workshop. I personally use the the Classic size templates. Should I have an example of other sizes? e.g. the hipster PDA? I think I might also bring in copies of GTD/7 Habits/etc for people to look through... I thought I might also ask people to bring in their current system/day timer and speak a little to its (in)effectiveness. Do you have any more recommendations on what you think might help others in this little workshop?

Here is my personal list of The Top Ten Things That Make Me Organized.

  1. Choose a day timer size that is portable for you.
  2. Be constantly evaluating the effectiveness of your system. If it's not working, you won't use the system and you won't be organized.
  3. Carry only the information you need to carry. (e.g. six weeks of weekly calendars + monthlies to the end of the year, not every week to the end of the year)
  4. Carry the information you need to remember. (e.g. client phone numbers, a map of your region)
  5. Always have a few blank templates, and a few blank sheets. You never know when a random conversation might turn into a new project...
  6. Separate the following information: TOOD, time-based commitments, project summaries.
  7. Colour coding is fun, but don't let it control you (my date-based/calendar pages are gray; my project pages are yellow; Christmas/holiday pages are green; and all other note pages are cream or white).
  8. Never let anyone steal your pen. (I tend to carry an extra "loaner" pen when I'm going to conferences and some meetings.)
  9. Make occasional "back up"s of your data by photocopying important pages. Take out pages that you don't need on a regular basis and put them into an "archive" binder. (Don't ask me about the 24 hour period where I lost my day timer...including all my time sheets...)
  10. Morning check-ins and Weekly Reviews are important. When I got out of the habit of doing my weekly review, my morning check-ins always seemed overwhelming and fewer things got done during the week.

What else makes and keeps you organized?

Thanks in advance for your suggestions!

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So where is workshop going to be? I would be remiss if I didn't ask, how much?

My ony tip which you have going on daily, is "review your status". I get a weekly or biweekly review on Fridays. I do my computer scans and review my week.

I use a Hipster and most of my stack is action and note cards.

Possible additional points

Possible additional points might be...

--the initial session where you list all the open loops or outstanding issues. It helped me to feel in control when I started using GTD.

--projects and need to identify next actions

--the two minute rule

--it's helpful to have a GTD flowchart
at hand, especially the detailed one.

I think your Top Ten Things are great, especially number 8!

Good luck with the workshop.

A good list

It certainly sounds interesting.

Perhaps you could add something about gradually taking on this whole process. I've seen many people throw themselves into a new planning process and get so lost in the size of what they've taken on that they give up.

Is this a Day Timer sponsored workshop? Or are you simply using the trademark as a name for your binder?


Great feedback, everyone. Thank you!

To answer some of the questions:
-- The workshop will be in Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada (about 2.5 hours north of Toronto).
-- It will be "cheap" (maybe $25CAD/USD including a binder and photocopies? I need to check on the price of plastic/starter binders...). I'm not trying to earn money as a life coach or something fun like that, I'm just trying to help my community get a bit more organized.
-- Small "d", small "t" for "day timer": it's just what I call my organizer. In fact didn't even know it was a brand name! Thanks for the heads-up on that one!

student track?

Now that Tournevis has spoken up about her class.... maybe you could have a track for students especially--especially if your town has a largish college or university (or even--what do they call them in Canada?--community college or Jr. college...

I know I learned the "hard" way when I was a student, and buying into DayTimers (R) ;-)(together with their educational material) went a long way to bringing up my grade average a whole half a point or more.


Hummm. Interesting

Hummm. Interesting thought.

How many teachers? Primary and High School, College and University profs here?

"It's better to be a pirate than to join the Navy." -- Steve Jobs

College planners

I did not have any sort of planner (or plan for that matter) when I went to college, and my GPA suffered several pints (I mean points) because of it. Some sort of Productivity training should be offered in High School.

DIYplanner in my new course

You might be interested to know that I will be including a lot of DIYplanning in my new course starting this September. I will be teaching second year students who in my experience have no idea how to plan research and tasks. I will be using a lot of forms from this site (and ygor's programme, "smootch") to teach my students how to plan and project. It will be fun.

"It's better to be a pirate than to join the Navy." -- Steve Jobs

These would have been such

These would have been such useful courses, especially yours tournevis. I never really learned how to plan my schoolworl and larger projects.
I've lost myself and gone to find me, if I get back before I get here, please ask me to wait. -author unknown

Last semester, I asked my

Last semester, I asked my fourth-year students at the university I work at (the Yale of the North, so they say) if they knew how to create a basic outline for a paper. I asked what goes where, typically? What goes in an intro, in a conclusion? What's the difference between a thematic and a chronological outline. These were fourth-year (final year) university students!

They had no clue.

"It's better to be a pirate than to join the Navy." -- Steve Jobs


My dd13 attends a public school that I consider pretty bad (so I supplement at home) but even so she learned at school in the 6th grade how to outline a paper, the parts involved, the beginnings of research techniques, etc. What I find is that her teachers expect the kids to do most of their research on the internet and really don't encourage them to use books. Nor do they help them figure out which internet sites are fairly accurate and which ones are total c**p. Two years ago one of her teachers assigned writing a paper on the plague. The teacher had printed off material from a web site and sent a copy of that home with each child to use as their "research" for the paper. I had just finished reading a couple of really good books on the plague and when I looked at the "research" material sent home by the teacher it was full of innacuracies and downright blatant errors. I checked out the site and it was one that had been put together by a high school student as part of a school assignment (nothing against h.s. students, some do good work) and the content must have never been checked by his teacher because it was really, really bad. I marked the more obvious errors, added notes with correct material, made a list of web sites with accurate material, printed off some of the pages, and sent the lot back into the teacher with dd. There was no response. No pulling back the inaccurate material, no sending out a new packet of correct information, nothing. I think part of the problem is that few of her teachers ever had to do any original research. Look stuff up and write a paper on it? Sure. But actual research where they gather data, evaluate it, and write about it cohesively and clearly? I don't think so. So they don't have the skills and can't pass them on. Sorry, end of rant.

I Hear You

When my daughter was in 3rd grade, she was doing a science unit on weather and learned a bit about hurricanes. I had her ask the teacher what the difference was between a hurricane and a typhoon (None, for the record - they are regional names for a tropical cyclone). She obviously had no idea since she gave some nonsense answer. If you have no idea, just say so but DON'T make s**t up and lie to MY kid.

I never finish anyth

Second that

Nothing wrong with not knowing the answer.
It can be a lot of fun to go and find the answer as either an individual or as a joint/group effort.

That's how I am. "Gee, I do not know that. Let's see if I can find the answer" (: Google is my friend :)
"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)


Google, Wikipedia, whatever. I never expect anyone to know everything. Why would I? Just admit it and go find the answer. Make a teaching excersize out of it. God forbid they teach something that won't be on the state exams...

I never finish anyth

DIY class

Fascinating idea. I'd add a very basic overview -- like WHY DIY planners might work for you, and maybe have some examples (either live or powerpoint)so people can see the different systems.