Great White North Planner Package

Hello All,

I have been on this site for a few months now and have benefited greatly from the information and inspiration contained within it. I'd like to give a bit back and if one person finds my system even a little bit helpful, great! If I can get some feedback or answer some questions, even better!

I'm a mining engineer which it seems to contrasts most of the denizens here. I like sharp edges and square corners. Consequently my ‘stuff’ is straight forward and could be considered by some as uncreative. But it works for me.

I’m very much a pen and paper kind of guy, very tactile and when I write something on paper it carries much more meaning to me than if I type the same thing. Let’s say it sticks with me much better. I use a computer on a regular (too regular) basis to facilitate certain parts of my job and for several home life things. I love gadgets and love my iPod touch. Now, on to my system:

It began by following David Allen’s GTD path, but I have begun to incorporate some of the Covey stuff as well. The biggest “Ah Ha!” I had with making a system work for me was simply getting ‘stuff’ out of my head and getting it somewhere I trust. There are two main aspects to my system that I need to keep 'clean and current': the capture tools and the weekly review.

If my Daytimer is not at hand to record a next action or to throw an idea on my ‘someday maybe’ list, then I rely on three things. A Moleskine cahier pocket note book, my wallet pen and papers, and my iPod touch. I’m almost never caught without one of these things and they are great for getting things out of my head. There isn’t much room in there, so it is essential!

My weekly review happens twice per week (weird, huh? It works for me!!). It must happen and I do it once at home and once at work. I separate the home stuff from the work stuff with some overlap. Like I said, it works for me and I actually get my wife involved in the home weekly review. She is a patient saint!

What I also find key to making it work is having my elevations mature (GTD), roles defined (Covey and GTD), goals for roles, and a mission statement (Covey). When you do the little things, these big things help move those little things in the right direction. I review these things at least twice a month.
Since I’m a ‘nuts and bolts’ kind of manager and engineer, I have figured out how to use MS Excel to design my planner sheets. I print these sheets out double sided, black and white on 8 1/2 x 11 paper, 32 lb (120g), 112 brightness and cut them into 5 ½ x 8 inch classic pages myself. I'm very picky about the paper I use, and yes, I'm a fountain pen user (no bleed-through with 32lb paper!!!). Waterman is my choice of writing instrument but I have drooled over Doug's Pelikan. Some day Doug! Maybe the Lamy first!!!!!

I use a black leather Daytimer, classic size with monthly and daily calendars in the front section, meanwhile the gears to my system (all my lists) occupy the back portion. If you open the attached Excel file, the tab order is basically the order the lists appear in my planner with the exception of the yellow tabs (work in progress). I use Daytimer’s monthly dividers – their tabs are handy! Oh yes, there are lots of pictures of my family randomly taped to the inside of my homemade dividers. I currently work in a mining camp and am away from them for most of the work week, so the pictures help me smile. That is important!

Please, let me know what you think and I really am looking for feedback. If you want to use my sheets, go ahead! I can repair and edit what you like to make it more useable. You can contact me at: get.stress.out at gmail dot com



Great White North Planner Sheets.xls1.65 MB
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Great format

I think you made this just for me! Thanks! I have saved it and will definately be giving it a go as I think it is exactly what I have been looking for. I am an office manager with a quite varied workload which is more task oriented than scheduled but I still need a small scheduled area in my planner. And fancy that....I have a classic size as well. I have not read David Allens book so not sure what the Elevation part is for. Can you explain this section?


Hey Jojo, thanks for the encouragement.

David Allen talks in terms of elevations as his way of addressing priority. He feels that when GTD is implimented properly, your priorities will become much more self-evident and you will use your intuitive nature to know what to do next. The big thing to get straight is from a high level to a very low or grandular level, you need to keep track of things.

David uses the analogy of elevations to help you list out the things that are important to you. I'll list his elevations then go on to explain...

50,000 foot elevation - Life in general, what the hell and I doing here kind of stuff
40,000 foot elevation - your 3 to 5 year goals, vision, strategy
30,000 foot elevation - the 1 to 2 year goals and direction
20,000 foot elevation - your areas of responsibility (both at work and at home, etc)
10,000 foot elevation - your project list
Runway - your current next physical action to get the stuff above it moving!

In a nutshell, the little things you do on a day to day , hour to hour, action to action basis needs a direction to make sure you are traveling toward your larger goals. By defining things, by getting clear and current, on the elevations above, your vision and strategy will guide you toward whatever it is you think your purpose is to be on this planet. Your 1 to 2 year direction will give you the path to live up to your vision that you have defined for yourself. Your areas of focus and the focus you put on those will contribute to your 1-2 year goals. Your project list contains the projects that shake out of the proactive opportunities you have identified while thinking about your areas of responsibility. And lastly, each and every "next action" will be making all the rest happen.

It gives relevance to the overused quote by Lao-tzu: "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

Hope this helps. I highly recommend reading David's material. Covey does this concept justice as well, but David really tells you the nuts and bolts about how he made it work.



Format Changes?

Outstanding job with putting the GTD requirements in one place. I have tried to creat my own excel version but never to your standard!

Quick question - and maybe I am displaying my ignorance of excel. Is there an easy way to change the colour pattern that you have in place? I am more of a "pale yellow" guy.

Thanks again for your contribution.

Colour Change

Unfortunately, the shading in Excel can only be changed by selecting the cells and re-formatting each individually. It is a bit of a pain, for sure.

Printing Black and White

I should have clarified this initally, but I use the light blue color because I print my pages in black and white and this shade of blue is much better than the available shades of grey.



Couple of fixes...

Just noticed that every second day there is a problem with matching the date on the left and right hand sides of the page.

Also, when I print, every other page is flipped.

Not sure what has happened here.

Calendar Page Order


Good question and one I should have clarified in the introductory text. The order you see the calendar days in Excel is deliberate. This order facilitates printing double sided on 8 1/2 x 11 paper and cutting in half and making everything work. It was a bit of a challenge to get (for example) the second page of the 17th to print on the back of the first page of the 18th. Suffice to say, this odd order you see in Excel will do that for me and my printer.

I'm not at work right now so the printer specifics will have to wait. Generally, I print double sided with flipping on the short edge. It makes the second side print in the proper orientation.

I do hope this clears up your confusion. Let me know and I can explain further.

Very Best


Thank you - it all makes sense, now!

Shannon - thanks for clarifying this for me. I guess I had two problems - the first being that my default setting for double sided is to flip on long edge. The second problem was likely the larger of the two - "Operator Error"!

It all makes sense now and I look forward to putting this in use.


Thank you but how do I...........

This is excellent work. I doubt I could ever achieve this level of detail, well done!

One quibble though, when I print from using a Sharp AR-M205 digital imager there is not enough margin to punch holes. Is this intentional or am I missing something here?

An ADD pastor in search of structure....but enjoying a certain level of chaos!

Holes and Margins

Thanks for the question! I must admit, I fought with the margins for a long time and we still have not resolved our differences! HA!

Seriously, there are many of my pages where the holes are actually in the working area of the page, but only in the pages on the left side of the planner, the end of the useable space of that page. If you are encountering this on the right hand side pages, then the issue will most likely reside with the software used to print.

I have not used, is this something useful I should be exploring?

Hope this helps.

Very Best



Yes, it is a free drop in replacement for MS Office. It does everything I need and more. I started using it after WordPerfect faded and never regretted it.

An ADD pastor in search of structure....but enjoying a certain level of chaos!"