What's your current work setup?

Levenger FolioSo, I'm addicted to writing and productivity gear. That's part of the reason for this site. I'm constantly trying new notebooks, new covers, new pens, new techniques, new calendars, new journals, new planners. And [cue Steward Smiley self-aware gander into mirror] "that's okay." I have fun, and no one gets hurt. I just make sure my monthly schedule never goes out of sync, since I'm careful to note my appointments and urgent lists in multiple places (iCal/Google Calendar/Backpack and my paper planner). I learned long ago that as long as nothing important slipped through the cracks, I could play to my heart's content. And, since I love to tinker, I do.

But occasionally I notice trends. For example, there's a strange "divergence" happening between my work and my creative gear.

As could be expected, my work gear is definitely more professional --I work in marketing/communications in my day job, so image can certainly be important-- and through my many trials it's more or less solidified into a Circa-based planner based somewhat upon the layout I mentioned in this post, heavily GTD-influenced. What's key to the setup?

  • Reliability: My monthly calendar is "synced" every Friday afternoon with my digital one, and periodically during the week. The pen and pencil I currently use for it, a Lamy 2000 fountain pen (with Noodler's Polar Black ink to prevent from freezing) and a Lamy 2000 0.7mm mechanical pencil, never fail me. All my current project dockets are listed, and all my recent notes are present in the Inbox section.
  • Omnipresence: I always have it handy. If I'm doing work-related things, it's either in my hand or five seconds away.
  • Portability: I have a 17" MacBook Pro at work. It's a great computer for my job, and I love it. But it's not exactly easy to tote around. While my planner isn't exactly light, it's less than half the weight and size, and the zip-around closure keeps out the sub-arctic weather.
  • Flexibility: I keep a lot of spare paper and forms in the planner, and the disc-enabled shuffling of sheets of different sizes and shapes makes it easy to re-arrange things on the fly. Plus, I can mix figures with text with doodles with diagrams all on the same page, with an ease that computers still don't facilitate (but rather emulate). Add a selection of DiyP index cards in the card slots, and I'm all set for almost anything.

In a little while, I'll post about my current home/creative setup. [Update: see What's your personal kit?.]

In the meantime, what's your current planner setup for work, and why?

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My current setup ...

I use a Moleskine Agenda the Red Pocket weekly Notebook with a page of notes facing a week and two DYI 5x5 card piles. It is a limited edition (ahem ...) but you can find it everywhere.
I use Rotring Esprit foldable fountain pen, pencil and pen. (but i am NOT happy with the ink).

For me this is a good choice because I never forget the *red* notebook and the notes page comes handy to write down everything concerning time based events.

I tag most events with small round color stickers, to separate work (red/purple/orange) from private events (yellow/blue/green).

As a wannabee GTD user, I have two DIY 5x5 Card piles sticked together with a paper clamp.
I use one for work and one for my private "To do" lists. Both have quite the same setup:

Some references: calendar, time schedules, some cheat sheets about management and communication
Lists: to do list, phone calls and emails to make, shopping list
empty cards and checklists.

I separate "to do" from "emails and phone calls" because most of the time this requires a different type of energy or attention level from me.

I love it because daily and weekly review go very fast and for me it's more about the content than the format. If i need one, i can rip a card out to write something. I don't archive the cards (but I feel I should) but for me it's just a short-time memory buffer.

I also use a Moleskine Memo to store post-its, paper clips, stamps, stickers and other tools.

Here is a picture of the complete "system": (but with my older black moleskine agenda) I put some stickers on the moleskine, because I want to identify them easily, as some people shared the same).


I am thinking about giving up the DIY cards and use more of the pages of the agenda, but this will link tasks to one week instead of letting them float across.

My setup

I wish I had a bigger budget for a Circa. But as a newbie, I have a 3-ring binder. In the front I have an inspirational quote, and questions to keep me on track with productivity, like "Is this the best use of my time right now?" and "Who needs to know about the actions I just took?"

Then I have a few sections, separated by dividers:

1. A bunch of note pages, though they are rarely used. (I have a hipster PDA)
2. Calendar, divided into 2-pages-per-week for the upcoming few months, and monthly pages for the next year or two, and one page for events that will occur after that. (I use that page as a reminder of expirations of year-long memberships, etc) Once a month or so I print out new 2-pages-per-week pages, and move stuff from the monthly pages to the weekly ones, and add in my routine appointments and meetings. I know it seems redundant but it saves space for far-off appointments, and since I print out pages a month or so in advance, I don't usually have a lot of appointments anyway.
3. Checklists - not so much used anymore since I have ThinkingRock software, but this section contains my context and next actions
4. Reference - GTD reference, and some brainstorming from the beginning of the year of my vision for 2008. Sometimes I look to this for inspiration and motivation.
5. Contact lists, separated into professional and personal
6. User ID list and password list (in code, in case anyone steals my binder)

I work in IT, where next-actions and projects come fast and furious, so for everyday work I use ThinkingRock software, which is really great and forces you into the GTD mindset. I used to write my next-actions and projects on paper, but they are so dynamic since I switched jobs that it seems I would spend all my time writing and not enough time doing.

I am probably going to add a few sections to my planner for diet and exercise tracking, and possibly work and household routines. Gotta watch that space creep, though - a small planner can quickly become huge!

My current work setup is on

My current work setup is on sabbatical.

My Personal time management tool

First and foremost this site is simply ...excellent!
Since some years I've worked out my personal time management tool: it is based on the suggestions found on Covey book. It is a two page per week tool organized in 9 columns.
The columns are:
1. one column per day divided in:
two sections dedicated to dominant items for that day
a classical section for planned activities (8 AM, 7 PM)
a section for notes (sunday notes is called "new numbers" to put new phones/addresses
as appropriate coming out during the week)
2. a column dedicated to objectives. The column is divided in 4 section
Every section is dedicated to a role and for every role I have 3 boxes to specify the week
objectives for that role. The final part of this column is called "lesson learnt" and
helps in writing a brief review of your week
3. a column dedicated to week priorities. The column is divided in 10 boxes to help me
fix the main priorities

- you have the overall picture of your weekly appointments and your total workload
- it's easy to verify if something is missing
- the template is based on a simple excel sheet
- you can plan based on your objectives
- Clear separation between planned things and all other things (see below)

- task list has to be implemented in an apart sheet
- Typically I start my journey putting the list of unplanned things on a sheet of paper
and, after evaluating the needed time, I arrange them on my week tool. Remaining tasks (not
eligible for planning, remain in my task list)
- Task list (articulated in next actions, phone2, mail2, waiting for (GTD methods)) are
tracked in different sheets

My physical support is a 6 rings tempo organizer in Italian leather (A5 format).
The other sections of my agenda are:

- Objectives Hierarchy (medium/long term view)
- delegated jobs
- evaluation notes (for my collaborators)
- lesson learnt (an explosion/analysis of the notes put day by day in my weekly plan
- meeting minutes
- hurry notes (notes taken in a hurry situation)
- to do planning (the task part above described)
- Meetings plan (Agenda for meetings in Allen jargon)
- Contact log (brief summary of meetings with specific people that I update)

No space for projects because normally I prefer to use GANTT template to plan activities.

After having bored you a lot .....
kind regards

Thanks Cesare

Not boring at all. One of my favorite things about DIYP is getting to see how other people are set up.

not boring!

In fact, it was interesting to read about a Covy system in operation. GTD is so everywhere now, that it was a breath of fresh air. :-) Enjoyed the read!


GTD and Covey

Thanks Jon for your feedback.
Some years ago I started reading Covey book first things first that takes a planning driven by values/objetives.
AFter that I read Allen GTD work.
In my opinion the best is the mix of the two approaches: GTD to work "the daily stuff" and Covey to plan your week, month and so on.


Boring? Never.

You don't know us very well yet if you think your post was boring. We love that kind of stuff. :)

Tempo planner- where to purchase?

Thank you for your post... where can you buy a Tempo planner in the US or online? Thank you, Sunny Jonas (moving to Chicago from CT)

current work set up

I am a new convert to DIY planning, but have always been quite well organised, but last September I started studying for an M.B.A. (part time distance learning) whilst working as a business studies lecturer in an FE college along with the usual busy persons commitments; mother of a nine year old boy, wife, housekeeper etc…
So I decide in needed to get serious about organising my life.
As part of my internet research I came across this website, which is heavenly for a organisation and stationery obsessed person. Then followed my discovery of G.T.D. I invested in a new organiser and have gone for an A5 filofax style (actually bought from a craft suppliers) which I have personalised with stickers, brads and postcards etc. I use many of the pages downloaded from DIY planner but fro my diary I use pages printed from “MSOutlook Calendar” which we use at work for organising meetings etc… I have also started to use the outlook TASK list and now print those off as well.
I have had to invest in a Filofax hole punch to help with filling neatness – but this is working well so far. I only print off a month’s weeks at a time but will reprint a week if major changes happened, otherwise I hand write minor things on the paper copy. It does help that I can access work outlook at home. Now all I need to do is get my records at home up to date and filling organised, this has become somewhat disorganised lately, but with my studies over till September I at least have some breathing space!
My mission for the next academic year is to get some of my students converted to DIY planner and GTD!

HELP does anyone know how to get the days of the week printed on Outlook calendar pages ?

Its interesting to hear

Its interesting to hear about peoples setups. Heres mine;

Blackberry; phone, e-mail, web browser, database of contacts.
Slim leather pocket diary (week on two pages); appointments, commitments, deadlines and odd data
Leather Jotter 5x3 index cards; notes to self and todays list.
Vintage Fountain Pen; usually a Parker and often a 51
Method; Alan Lakein

Keep it simple. Keep it real!!

Mid-year change up

Thanks, Doug, for an inspirational post.

This month, I changed my system from a leather Franklin Covey classic binder to a Levenger Junior/Classic binder. The chief reason: the FC binder was getting too darned heavy (nearly 2 1/2 pounds!) and bulky (at least 2 inches thick).

I sprung for a $4.95 2008 Levenger Agenda notebook and circa-punched my "must keep" FC pages. A little messy, but I'll be redoing them soon enough. It was easy to just punch and go. I saved nearly a pound and a half of weight by going back to Circa! Thanks to Doug, I found out that my chief reason for abandoning Circa three years ago -- that the paper size was smaller than 5 1/2w x 8 1/2h -- was now moot. Thank you, Levenger, for switching paper sizes! I was pleased that I could still use my nice leather binder with tab closure. I use a lime green Tombow fountain pen with purple Levenger ink for writing and a Papermate mechanical pencil for my calendar.

Another reason for switching to a "lighter" version was that I will be getting an iPhone G3 in the near future and trading my very old iPod mini and Razor phone in favor of a multi-tasking iPhone. Today was a bust -- too long a line at the Apple store, no phones left at the AT&T store, and finding out that activation was nigh impossible due to server crashes were enough to kill the dream for a few days at least. I'll let them work out the bugs first. I waited a year, so I guess I can wait a bit longer. Plus, it's fun to play with my new planner for a while.

In January, I started using an online to-do list at toodledo.com, primarily because it was found to be best-in-class for use on the iPhone. A pro membership will retain up to two years of to-do data that includes Tasks, Folders, Contexts (GTD!), Priority, Due Date, Repeat, Time Estimates, Completed Dates, etc., etc., and gives me a quick and painless way to do my weekly activity report by exporting the data in a spreadsheet. I don't keep my "hot list" in my planner yet because it's easier to just go to the site since I am at my computer most of the day. But, for travel or days away from the office, it's very easy to print a mini booklet of my tasks.

I've flirted with the idea of going just with a weekly Moleskine agenda with notebook, but the fixed pages just don't cut it for me. I need a paper planner that can include the following sections, along with the monthly and 2-page-per week calendars:

Info -- A list of birthdays, budget and budget codes, and grouped lists of frequently contacted phone numbers for vendors and such.

Messages - This section keeps me sane! A great idea stolen back in the 80s from a co-worker who was really organized. It's also a great reference for when people called and, if I'm keeping up with it, a record of whether I returned the call.

Projects -- Where I plan out my newsletters, publications, and projects prior to putting everything down electronically. No forms yet, but DIYp pages will be added.

Creativity -- This is new, meant to capture my non-work projects, lists of questions to ask when researching a new project, mind maps (my latest obsession), ideas for future creative projects (novels, short stories, designs, garden ideas, etc.), productivity tips, goals, etc. I'd also like to include inspirational material if it doesn't take up too much room.

Notes -- This is also new. Since I don't want to junk up the sections containing my weekly calendars, I figure I need a place the keep random notes of current important things. Today, it has travel plans for a conference I'm attending next week. We'll see if I keep up with this.

Since I work for an academic institution, changing my calendar system at this time of year wasn't painful. I plan on using my iPhone for contacts, podcasts, family photos, music, synching with my Mac iCal, accessing Toodledo when I'm away from my office, and maybe a fun game app or two. I like having paper to write down things on the fly and not have to worry about connecting to a webpage or using up precious battery time. We'll see how the paper planner and the iPhone work together.

Thanks for letting me share.

- Maura

Current work setup?

I currently use a little Hello Kitty planner for notes . ...I have used them all and actually this has more room and is so cute.
For contacts, calendar, and all other stuff i use my ipod touch. Alot of great programs. Since it syncs up to Outlook i can also print pages for my planner if i need to see a hard copy.
Please let me know if you have any suggestions on how else i can use either or.....BTW I thought i was the only one obsessed with fountain pens... I have several, but i use waterman with special fuschia ink which is also scented (strawberries)... I know a little much but that is ME