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We are a community of people who see the value of paper as a medium for planning, productivity, creative expression, and exploring ideas. We encourage visitors to share advice and inspiration, and we love to see submissions for templates, kit images and story articles. We are also the official home of the free D*I*Y Planner kits. Please enjoy your stay, and make yourself at home!

A Review of the Pomodoro Technique

My friend, Colin, started using the Pomodoro Technique a month ago. Today he wrote about his experiences (so far) with this timed productivity method.

It has been one month as of today that I started using the Pomodoro Technique at work in an attempt to increase my productivity. I think that after a month of use I can provide an evaluation of the technique; what I find good about it along with some of the negative sides. While I think that using pomodoros has increased my productivity overall, there are still some gaps that I have yet to discover ways of filling.

Go visit his blog to read his lengthy review of how the Pomodoro Technique fits into his life. Perhaps it might inspire you to give it a whirl and boost your productivity?

Introduction to the Middle Way Method

TreeI want to introduce you to The Middle Way Method, an organizational system I created and have been using to keep me and my projects on task. In 2006, I decided to learn how to be more effective with planning. I had tried a few planning systems, and while they all had something I found useful, not fit my lifestyle or personality perfectly. An Internet search about making planner pages brought me to D*I*Y Planner. Here I found I was not alone in needing and creating custom planning systems. D*I*Y Planner also introduced me to a whole slew of planning methodologies.

From studying all these planning systems, I noticed that they fell into two categories: Top Down or Bottom Up. The first is Top Down Planning, and the Franklin Covey methodology provides a great example of this type, which says "Know who you are, and work from there to become who you want to be." The second type is Bottom Up Planning, and Getting Things Done (GTD) system, follows this methodology. GTD is designed to clear all of the "Stuff" in your life, and process it effectively. However, I found that neither of these systems really work best for me. Over time, I kept track of what worked for me from each system, and I used that to create my own system, called The Middle Way Method.

I choose the name, The Middle Way Method, because I was inspired by the story of how the Buddha reached enlightenment. I see this system bridging the gap between Top Down and Bottom Up systems. The Middle Way Method encourages me to uncover who I am, who I want to be, and how to become who I want to be, while being able to handle everything that is thrown my way. In the past, I've had issues where the planning systems break down on me. A crisis or a change, and I need a complete new system. The Middle Way Method helps me to create a new system utilizing this same methodology. This enables me to quickly create a new system for my changed circumstances, because I do not have to work out the method all over again, and I am no longer bouncing between top down or bottom up. I feel that this approach gives a balance between the important things of life and the daily grind.

Happy Halloween, Remembering Your Family

Happy Halloween everyone. Welcome to the dark time of the year, when spirits roam, and pumpkins light our way. A time where we remember our ancestors in Day of the Dead celebrations and Remembrance meals. At this special time of the year, Jordan McGilvray tells us a tale of Jack and offers us a treat. So sit back, eat a slice of pumpkin pie, and enjoy this holiday.

Jack limped along the dirt track, grumbling to himself about the cost of every needful thing. He muttered about how cold his house was, that the peat was to hard to dig, and wood was to expensive. He grumbled about the children who stared in awe and fear as they looked at him. They made his life miserable when he went to the village, teasing him, mocking him, and calling him names. Jack stopped and thought for a minute. He did not really care for one other person in the whole planet. Sometimes this worried Jack. The town priest, who read scriptures, always said that you should love your neighbors, implying that everyone was a neighbor. "Bah," thought Jack, "I know I care nothing for anyone or anything, but that does not make me bad."

Me, Myself and I: Visually Speaking That is

This week Jordan gives us some history and tips on logo design. Download and use his Logo Development Sheets to create your own logos.

With the advent of television and the Internet, and online communities, we have all become a unique brand. In this article I’m going to show you how you can create your own personal, or familial, logo. A logo is important in branding. It is a visual communication that helps people associate you and your services with a picture.

Communicating visually has been an important part of human history. Dynastic Egypt used a symbol known as a Serekh. A Serekh was created for Royalty. These rectangular hieroglyphs were used to distinguish each ruling family apart. Egyptians placed the god Horus on the top, the name of the reining King in the middle, and the palace of the rule on the bottom. Serekhs were used to relay the necessary message of royal power. Later versions added an epithet within each glyph.

NaNoWriMo 2009: Once More Into the Breach Good Friends

NaNoWriMo 2009 ParticipantIt’s October and that means only one thing. The NaNoWriMo site relaunched and the forum boards opened to a flood of new ideas and discussions. It’s time to sign-up and explore the depths of your inner writer. Those familiar with this site and my column know that I am a 100% rabid devotee of NaNoWriMo. I’ve been participating in this madcap writing adventure for eight years now. As of this post, I have no idea what I’ll be writing about. But I’m confident that when the clock strikes midnight, signaling the beginning of November 2009, that I will be off and running, and writing until I reach 50,000 words.

Usually, I’d spend this post sharing some tidbit of wisdom or knowledge to help those who have joined in the fun learn how to be triumphant in this challenge. However, I’ve become insanely busy this year; so instead this post sounds more like a NaNoWri-cap or "best of" listing, rather than me sharing something new. Let the list of links below refresh your memory and spark new ideas for this year’s crop of noveling insanity.

  • NaNoWriMo 2008 Last year’s post talked about how I went analog and gave you all some ideas on how to join in on the fun with me.
  • NaNoWriMo 2007 Advice from a first time participant on what helped them achieve greatness.
  • NaNoWriMo 2006 The power of brainstorming and how it can help you uncover plot ideas and generate outlines.
  • NaNoWriMo 2005 Using D*I*Y Compact Planner Story forms to plot your way to victory.
  • Review: No Plot? No Problem! A review of the NaNoWriMo companion book written Chris Baty, the founder of NaNoWriMo.
  • Cheer Me On: Writing Buddies How you and your friends can cheer each other on as you write, write, write all through November.

If you’re gunning for novelizing glory come join us! Add me and the other members from D*I*Y Planner who take on this challenge to your buddy list. To all the official (and un-official) NaNoWriMo 2009 participants, good luck and I hope your muses bless you with many, many words.

Review: Quo Vadis Habana Notebook

Earlier this year the fine folks at Exaclair, Inc. (distributors of Quo Vadis, Rhodia, and Clairfontaine notebook lines) sent me out a little goodie box. In this box, was a Quo Vadis Habana notebook. For the past few months I’ve been using this journal to chronicle my tarot degree homework. As you can see from the image, I even customized the Habana with a sticker a friend made for me. Now, it’s time to share my thoughts on the notebook with you all.

I received a Large Habana notebook and it measures 6 1/4 x 9 1/4". It’s about an inch longer and wider than the large Moleskine. For me, this doesn’t pose a problem but for people who are comfortable and familiar with the smaller size, it may take some getting used to. A paper band touting the features of the notebook sits wrapped around the notebook. I quickly removed this band before snapping any photos, guess I was too eager to break in the new toy. A pamphlet sits inside the book cover that talks about Quo Vadis and Clairfontaine's commitment to helping our natural resources by making greener paper processes and products. Click the link to read the rest of my review.

New Product Temptation: Notepods

My friend and forum member, David Solot, just tossed this tasty tidbit over to me: Notepods. Apparently, these notepads feature a design that is "reminiscent of a popular smart phone."

The front of each sheet has a 52mm by 77mm area of blank space that's perfect for doodling. The back has a light 6mm grid rule that seems great for engineering new product designs. A three-pack of these pads costs $17.95 USD; shipping from Australia.

Has anyone purchased a set yet? I'd love to know what everyone thinks.
(Image taken from the Notepod site.)

Keep-It-Simple Financial Planning (Part 3)

This article is the third in a series of financial planning. You might want to go back and read Keep-It-Simple Financial Planning (Part 1), and Keep-It-Simple Financial Planning (Part 2) before you begin looking at this article. This article talks about budgeting and you might find an easier time following it's advice if you read the other two first.

Your budget will help determine how much extra you can afford to pay in order to get out of debt. According to The Richest Man in Babylon, (which I highly suggest you read), "Save at least 1/10th of your income, and invest it. It is suggested that you find someone who is both honest and wise in investments. The purpose of this savings is to grow an estate for your future, and your family." I would also suggest that you become familiar with any company you invest in.

Another Amazing Renaissance Art Giveaway

Once again, Renaissance Art is promoting another random product giveaway on their blog. This time, the item up for grabs is a prototype 3x5 ring binder.

...one of our new versatile 3 x 5 one-inch ring binders ($20). Leather lined (no suede side showing), these hand-held helpers hold about 80 cards (if the cardstock is a super-sturdy acid-free100 brightness 100# cardstock), more with other company’s lighter card stock, and will come in every color we offer: rustic brown and black and all seven Rustic Elegance colors. And the exposed rings don’t just look good—they help the covers stay flat.

To enter in the giveaway, all you need to do is go on over to the Renaissance Art blog and leave a comment at THIS POST.