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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!

"Paper? Ain't that extinct?"

Another of the half-dozen pieces from the million monkeys archives that I want to move into DIYPlanner.com, from February 7, 2005.

Pen and paperIt comes as no surprise to anyone following the whole 43folders-style quest for life tweaks that there seems to be a resurgence in paper-based organisational products. See Merlin's canonical Introducing the Hipster PDA (follow-up), my own DIY Planner, Scott "Jerry" Lawrence's Hipster designs, Moleskine notebooks (link & link), and now Mark Berstein's Tinderbox Cards (he would be the so-intelligent- he-must-be- an-alien-lifeform creator of Eastgate's wonderful Tinderbox information management tool).

I have to wonder about what might be the reasons for the current infatuation with paper, especially those pieces of paper with semi-structured forms for inputting your information....

Sing Your Way to Efficiency

My picture name Greetings, welcome once again to Steve’s Paper-Based-Planning Column Of Insanity, giving you everything you need to enter the weekend as willingly as possible. To begin with, I’d like to thank everyone for their interest in last week’s post, on storyboarding your life. I was astonished at the response and even more astonished when it was mentioned on Lifehacker. Yes, Lifehacker! I was mentioned on Lifehacker. I’m not sure and somebody might want to go look it up, but I think that may be one of the signs of the apocalypse. I owe that bit of unlikely publicity to Avi Solomon: Thanks Avi . You’ve always believed in me, ever since last Friday.

Confessions of a Gel Pen Addict

massive pen collection All my writing books, creativity books and journalling books start off the same, "Get yourself a blank book and good pen that makes you happy and WANT to write." The idea behind this is that if you get a book and pen you like, that you'll be compelled to write often with the item you purchased. While it seems a bit capitalistic, I have to agree. As a matter of fact, I am making a public confession. I am addicted to gel pens. Gel pens are my ultimate writer's tool.

A Box Full of Inspiration

The Kit"You can only learn to be a better writer by actually writing."

That is Doris Lessing expressing the rock-bottom truth about writing. Read any book about writing, enroll in any writing course, browse any 'how to write' web site and you will find the equivalent. The exact phrasing will vary, but the meaning never does.

So most writers resolve to write every single day. Often this is easy. Other times it can seem as if your muse has vanished into a witness protection program. However if you are willing to invest a little time now and then, you can create a priceless treasure: a bottomless well of personalized inspiration to draw on whenever your mind is as blank as your paper.

Music Notes

Compose music on your Hipster PDA

Usage advice: 

Inspired by John Norris' Hipster PDA forms, Pete Phillips contributed this handy Hipster PDA form for jotting down musical notes.

Nine staves give you plenty of room to compose your next masterpiece, and there's even a bit of space to write down lyrics for your next catchy tune. You can also write guitar chords above the lines.

Far out tip: write down a few songs and laminate the cards. Then you can hit the right notes when you're yodeling in the bathroom! ;)

Paper size: 
Index Card (3 x 5)
Creative Commons
Applications required: 
PDF Reader (Adobe Reader, Mac OS X Preview)

Satellite Action Card

The Satellite Action CardNote: a new version of this template is included in the DIY Planner 3 Hipster PDA Edition kit.

In my use of a medium-sized planner, there are three little issues that have often bothered me:

  • The occasional need to have a light-weight solution for on-the-go (e.g., shopping) that works well with my planner;
  • Using Next Actions (or Waiting For/etc.) lists within a weekly or monthly calendar spread, without flipping pages back and forth; and
  • Quickly finding a Next Actions list among the pages of my planner, since I have a lot of side tabs.

Introducing a new concept for the D*I*Y Planner kits: the Satellite Action Card. This is a way of addressing all the above, and giving people an option that bridges the gap between the portability of the Hipster PDA and the versatility of a regular planner.

Planning to Have Fun

If template designers were scientists, I'd be a white-frocked and absent-minded head of research at a university lab. Guest-poster John Norris, on the other hand, would be the wild-eyed and frizzle-haired loony hoisting his creation up to the array of lightning rods atop the castle roof. We all should have such checks and balances. -DJ

Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.
John Lennon, "Beautiful Boy"

Pushing the Envelope

OK, OK, obviously DIYPlanner.com is all about productivity. However, there are many spheres in which one may be productive. For corporate work, it's meetings, to-do's and contacts. However, maybe you're a poet, choreographer or sculputor and need to be productive artistically. These areas would have corresponding templates that may be quite different from corporate work.

Let's push further. "Productivity" is not merely efficiency: it commonly brings with it a positive, qualitative, meaning. Hipsters can address quality of life issues. Games, ice-breakers, puzzles, etc., can add to one's simple enjoyment of life. You're carrying it everywhere, so why not include enough distractions so you will Get Nothing Done (TM), but have fun anyway?

Storyboarding My Day

My picture nameGreetings. Well, today is truly dedicated to thinking outside the box. I saw Doug's new Storyboard templates and I was very interested, being a budding filmmaker myself. I used them for a film project and then I started wondering whether they couldn't be used for other organisational projects. As a test run, I decided to use them in place of my normal planner to see if I could schedule my day with pictograms instead of words. Below you'll see how my experiment turned out. My apologies for my poor drawing skills. It's a problem of genetics: I'm ambidextrous and dyslexic, so I can't draw with both hands.

"Dear Me": Writing Letters to Yourself

When was the last time you wrote a letter? Emails don’t count. A real letter. You know, like when you did during class to a friend, folded in a super secret way or to your parents during your two week stint at summer camp, filled with all the fun things you had done but pleading to come back home to your warm bed and better food. Okay, so maybe you all get the idea. Now, when was the last time you wrote a letter to yourself?

Bet you’ve never done that before. I know it sounds silly. But when you’re journalling and looking to find your voice, writing letters to yourself filled with advice or pep talks, daily musings or past recollections or even just simple one statement reminders that you are worthy and loved can help you when you least expect it. I hereby to give yourself permission to take out your journal or a sheet of paper and do just that.