DIY on the fly

Greetings to all.

I was just wondering how many members here are using systems that don't include print-outs, commercial planners, or anything pre-done, except for maybe the binding system like binders, Circa, etc., and of course the paper.

Would you mind sharing your system/hacks and why you use it?

Currently I'm using a quarter-letter notebook (bound with circa disks) with 1 page per week. The pages are blank, and I write the week's date at the top and list all the appointments, priorities, and highlights for that week. I do have a print-out of the full year at the front and another print out with my repeating tasks and appointments, which I think is soon to be put into the recycling bin (not that many).

I've gotten tired out printing, printing, printing and tweaking, tweaking, tweaking and trying to use forms that just don't work, even when I design them myself.

Looking forward to your replies and the resulting inspiration.

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I also got weary of the forms, mainly because I recognized that no form, not even the ones I developed, would be good enough. I don't like to waste paper, so uneventful days left pages blank, and busy days caused me to "ruin" the next day's forms.

So, much like you, I start each day on a page, list my meetings, to-dos for the day, and then my notes of the day underneath that. Once I'm done for the day, I draw a heavy line, and start the next day after that. Thus, no wasted paper.

I use the circa system, letter-sized. On the left side of the open notebook, I list all open projects and any future-looking needs. The right side of the notebook is for my daily notes. The difference is, I punch both sides of the long edge of the page. When I'm done, I just flip it over so that my to-dos are always on the left, and notes always on the right.

The freedom of being formless works well for me and my planning quirks. The only form I use is a modified Weight Watchers points tracker, to keep a daily diary of my food intake.

How do you track future items?

Like upcoming appointments and deadlines for your open projects? Do maintain a list of those dates and transfer them when the time comes?
This is a sticking point for me, mostly because I like to think too far ahead. *sigh*

For me real time sensitive tasks are handled digitally

The availability of reminders is the main incentive for that.

I learned the hard way that when it comes to timeline or contacts redundancy is vital.

So phone, Google, Yahoo and the calendar(s) which is(are) available with whatever computer operating system(s) I am using to hold data.

The data is further entered in my paper calendar, at the back of the yearly or monthly print out.

I print the dates on one side letter size, circle the dates in color pencil and write information about the appointments/deadlines on the other side of the letter size paper, which is folded in two.

If I have a very busy week, I just make a weekly printout of the data on the electronic calendars.

I carry the printouts and important business cards in a Junior sized plastic envelope along with a Junior notepad and a 3x5 scratch pad.

I am looking for a professional looking, non leather, Junior sized ring binder organizer which won't weight a ton by itself.

I have yet to find a good way to transfer contacts from business cards to electronic in a seamless way. (I believe scanning business cards by theme is the way to go)

I love the ability to bookmark websites in my browser. Businesses websites contain contact information right on the page.
A great time saver.

In reading about how people use their planners

I've noticed that many just opt to transfer data from monthlies to weeklies/dailies and re-write repeating events as often as they repeat. Perhaps this is not such a bad approach because "the pen aids the mind," and the repetition will keep the information somewhere in the subconscious until its appropriate time.

I suppose some people need that constant reminder in a more tactile way rather than beeps and pop-ups on the screen. Maybe I do too. Still finding out who I am in terms of planners and time/information management.

Depends on your frame of mind


The whole rewriting thing.. I don't like it personally, but if you do then go for it. :)

I have my reminders and meetings in electronic form, and I use a scratch pad through the day for the stuff I need temporary notes on. My life is pretty simple right now, though.

I have a tickler that is three-ring bound page protectors for the stuff coming up in the future, and little disc bound book for phone numbers and passwords. I have a printed planner, but I rarely use it--it's week-per-page and it doesn't have any time markings. I might write a few words in it, but I don't carry it anywhere.

When my life becomes more complicated I might need to utilize some of these tools differently, but right now it suits my tolerance for 'no overhead'..


And the tickler strikes again

I think since my planner is also my tickler, I may be able to use it effectively for reminders. I'm experimenting with putting my recurring appointments/events/tasks on pretty business cards and moving them from week to week.

We'll see how that goes. I think I tend to change my mind too quickly without giving something enough time to work. I'm all over the place these days. I'm usually a very basics, no fuss person, but this whole paper planner lifestyle has made me nuts. But I'm having a ball, even though I get overwhelmed at times.

Thanks to everyone for responding.

Scanning business cards

That's exactly, what I do. And then I add the image to an appropriate graphics file for the letter of the alphabet. Rearanging of the pictures is easy, when the order has to be changed. My office-planner remains slimmer in comparision to those plastic tabs that are offered for deposition of business cards. For contacts who lack a card, I have a block of text on the page, that also can easily be moved around. OK, every addition of a picture needs a new print, but until that I also can make extensions with a pen. In office we use corel, but inkscape should work fine as well.

To make the data electronically accessible I also apply OCR and add it to the contact list of our mail program. The transfer is a manual cut and paste, but as I do not have to do it so often it's worth the efford. There it becomes available for my coworkers.

For the addressbook of my private planner I have a differnt solution, that would be its own posting.

Keep organized!


too complicated for me.

Future Items

I should have included that I use a Crackberry for my calendar and contacts. Future appointments are in the e-calendar, but they get transferred to paper the day of the event.

Open projects have due dates right next to it on my to-do sheet. All of the required action steps for those projects are listed underneath, with the appropriate due date listed.

Tracking of future items is always tough for me because I am so bad at the weekly review. At ideal times, on a Friday afternoon, I review what I need to do for the following week, adjust any to-dos with completions or additions if necessary, and then list the Must-Do's for so that they are ready for me when I come in Monday morning. I try to keep weekends sacred time for family --- that's my motivation for planning on Friday afternoon.

In place printer

A few years ago, there used to be a portable printer that could print on any surface, taking input from a portable device, like a Palm I think. Such a thing could be the answer to formless forms, I think, as you could print the desired form or lines at the desired point at the last second. Sorry, I don't recall the brand name, but I think I saw it mentioned on the gadgeteer web site.

System is the Solution

It's also the problem.

It hit me recently, so I tossed everything and started carrying some 3x5's.

The only thing I print is my contact list; I carry a credit sized calendar.

Very much inspired by realization I was devoting myself to improving and maintaining in liu of doing plus posts here by member SusanBeth.

' A writer's "Hipster" '
' SusanBeth's "Writer Hipster" '

Both are circa 2005.


I'm glad to hear

of another convert to the wonderfulness of index cards. :D

Five years and untold hundreds of cards later, that's still my system.

Often I feel like a total stick-in-the-mud when others post of the dozen different systems they've bought and tried out and abandonned for various reasons, but then I tell myself, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Does anyone else feel guilty

about the amount of paper we use planning with paper?

Sometimes I say to myself, you weren't using this much paper when you used a PDA. How am I helping the environment? In addition to that, I didn't have to figure out a system. It was all done for me.

So why the change, right?

One word: Input. Hated it! Just like I haven't found a paper form that satisfies me, I haven't found a digital form that satisfies me either.

I simply hate inputting data into anything digital, and those technologies that try to mimic handwriting, just don't cut it.

So here I am.



On the subject of paper usage, well, I dunno. My stepfather is growing trees that will later become lumber, paper, landscaping, and other products. He has land that is a series of different monocultures. You can certainly argue that the planet would be healthier if the land were allowed to go fallow and become a natural forest.

But mostly I'm not thinking that big when it comes to office supplies. I use pens made of plastic (petroleum) and metal (mining), filled with ink that's made from who-knows-what. The power to run my lights comes from nuclear, coal, and greener power companies (it's a coop). The desk I sit at is made from plywood and covered in lacquer. The keyboard I'm typing at has hazardous materials in it, and so do the computer and monitor. The fluorescent lights have nasty stuff inside. I even use a mechanical pencil rather than one made from wood.

I am surrounded by choices that aren't particularly green or sustainable. My conscience is tired, honestly. I work hard enough trying to get better control over the food we eat that I don't really have a lot of will left to apply to other stuff.

I'm not saying "don't feel guilty", I'm just saying everyone has their own limit of how much they want to tackle right now. I personally try to compost as much paper as I can in the back yard, that's about all I'm ready for.


Well, when you put it that way

It's funny how our minds pick on one little corner of the world and forget the rest.

I feel less guilty about the paper now, which can be reused and recycled with ease these days, and more guilty about all the other things you mentioned. lol



Sometimes it's helpful to take a step back and look at the situation with fresh eyes. I honestly didn't think about the source of all those things around me until you asked. :)

Didn't mean to make you feel guiltier. :)

Personally, I don't really *want* to go back to a completely rustic, totally sustainable way of life. I don't want to be a hunter-gatherer, or even a farmer. It's bloody hard work! I work in a tech job wiggling my fingers and flapping my lips all day while sitting in air-conditioned comfort just steps away from the fridge. I might be healthier if I went back to one of those other ways of life, though. Personally, I like heat in the winter and running water and toilets that hook up to at least septic if not sewer. Cars are useful, even essential in my neck of the woods. And being able to shut myself away from the pollen every spring is a complete relief. Hot showers, ahhhh... :)

There are trade offs for all of these things. I expect these choices made individually and societally will come home to roost at some point if they haven't already. But not being completely crunchy-granola-earth-mother, I will change some of my ways but not others.

Make your choices and don't be guilty. If you can change and think you should and it's a priority for you, then do. If it's not a priority, make your choice and give up the guilt. Guilt is a waste of time you could be spending making things happen in some other area of your life.


Hybrid that breaks many of the rules

Thanks to necessity I have a hybrid system that breaks many of the 'in one place' rules.

My workplace uses a very large networked outlook system to co-ordinate appointments. It's very 'Fight Club' ... what happens at work stays at work ;)
In other words, no bluetooth, syncing, smartphones, blackberries, personal laptops, etc, etc, etc.

So my system is - a paper print of my work outlook calendar, an A6 (about quarter letter) 40 page notebook for my planning, and an A6 week to a view diary for my personal appointments.

The 'planner' I use by simply assigning a page for each day of the week with a review page at the end of each week. I scrawl down the tasks and project items I have to do - the top 3 for work for the day, other 'it might be nice if I can get to them' work tasks, and tasks & errands for home. Future items go onto the correct day or the review page at the end of the week.

I've tried 6 ring binders, pre-printed forms, large commercial planners and diaries, and palms. All of them annoyed me because I spent way too much time on the process and not enough time doing, and many of them were too heavy to carry around.

I went formless

With a 5 X 8 Moleskine notebook in graph. It's great. I start a day at the top of the page, and write in whatever I need for the day, where ever I want on the page, like To Do Lists, Daily Record, Schedule... Calendar and project due dates I have on the Crackberry like JWhitt. I love it. All my planners, and pages, and tweaking things went out the window.

all great ideas- integration?

my problem is having the same thing in 5 different places, or worse, 5 different items in the same time slot, in various places. I used both my laptop (2 or 3 methods) and paper (at least 1 at all times). So... ideas for integration?

Im hitting myself upside the head right now, a few days ago i realized that I forgot where I put the Circa covers I just got. I put them, and the discs, in a nice plastic bag, in a folder, in a back-to-school box. I have like 20 boxes tho. Arg! It's break them out now, or wait a month. Can I wait that long? I just have a junior notebook out now.

Wait a month, use the one you have now and then when u open

the boxes it will look like you had a brand new Circa for back to school.

Thank you

Hello and thanks to everyone for your help with my "on the fly" planner. It is working well, although I'm still learning to trust my instincts and stop tweaking, tweaking, tweaking for gosh sakes.

I recently realized--although I think I always knew--that I don't like bound planners unless they come in the form of books (like Moleskine). This is because the binding prevents me from writing on both sides of the page comfortably (even my treasured Circa has this flaw). However, I need a loose leaf system for ease of inserting and removing pages, especially since my planner doubles as my tickler (the one idea I had that stuck). The hipster PDA came to mind, but a binder clip or elastic is a little too loose leaf for me. :-)

My solution was to go back to using one loose leaf binder ring in the corner of my planner. However, I hated trying to open and close it in the past.

Then it hit me. Why not use a single circa disk to bind the planner instead of the binder ring? I wasn't sure it would work and that the pages would stay in, but it does and they do. I'm using average 20lb paper right now but for added security, I will be switching to better quality paper when this stack is finished.

Has anyone tried this before? I couldn't find a single example of it on the Internet.

Sometimes it seems a little silly punching an entire side of a page (quarter-letter) just to connect it to one Circa disk, but it was easier than trying to figure out how to get just one smurf. Anyway, when the planner is closed and everything is aligned, the smurfs look quite lovely (and very artsy).

Maybe this is it, and I can finally start focusing on planning instead of the planner.

Once again, thanks to all.