Welcome to DIYPlanner.com!

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!

Dr. Moleskine, or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love My Journal

By day, UK-based Neal Dench is a mild-mannered project manager and technical writer. By night, he assumes his secret identity of Mr. Porkpop, a fearless crusader in the war against... uhm... technical... and, er... project stuff.... *cough* Is this mic on...? Okay, I confess. I wanted to put a spotlight on journalling and Moleskines, and he was just the perfect chap. - DJ

Moleskine closeup
The key to keeping a successful and effective journal is to make sure the writing process is an enjoyable one. By using materials that make writing a pleasure, and by giving yourself the freedom to do what suits you, rather than conforming to traditional diary formats, this can be easier than it sounds. In this article, I'll explain some of the materials and methods I've used to reinvigorate my journal writing in recent months.

I think we owe it to ourselves to make some record of our lives. I hate the idea of waste in general, and I know how much of my time, how many thoughts, ideas, and memories, would be lost forever if I didn't write at least some of it down. Consequently, I have written journals on and off for around 25 years now; I have recorded my thoughts in diaries and PDAs, written regularly every night, written on an occasional basis, and yet, until now, never been satisfied with my efforts, often giving up altogether after only a few months. My diary often descended into a mundane list of things that no-one, not even me, was interested in. What did I watch on TV? What homework did I do? Who cares! When I wasn't writing lists, my diary became an excuse to descend into maudlin self-pity. Sure, life isn't all roses, and a diary can be a useful medium for sounding off about the world and working off your everyday frustrations, but it's all too easy to overdo it, and ultimately that's not good for the soul. It doesn't make for very interesting re-reading either!

So what has changed things recently? Why am I happy with my journaling efforts now? One simple word: Moleskine. Now, before you stop reading, I know how tritely 2005 that sounds, so my aim in this article is to explain why the Moleskine works for me, and tell you a little about how I use it.

T-shirt Tuesday!

D*I*Y Planner T-shirt
No Template Tuesday today. I want to talk about something far more fun. =) Today is T-shirt Tuesday instead!

My clothing budget is mostly earmarked for all the jackets and thermals a tropical girl needs to survive Canada's infamous winters, but one thing I absolutely _must_ have is official D*I*Y Planner swag.

Surfing the Alpha Waves

Hokusai - The Great Wave at KanagawaLong before Covey and Carnegie and other gurus stuck a pin through highly successful people and dissected them, many people (equally as sensible) long ago uttered the essential truth that success was a by-product of three different character traits: drive, discipline and imagination. Now, drive is something spawned by desire, a perfectly natural human urge -- you feel it, don't you? And every productivity maven out there tells you how to be disciplined: use a calendar this way, an action list that way, a project outline here, a QA/QC process there, a mission statement on the top, and a project post-mortem/ evaluation at the bottom. Thank you very much, and you can buy my workbooks for a mere $299 to increase your efficiency another 14.8%!

But where does imagination come from? Well, that's the hard part, isn't it? Nobody can tell you how to be imaginative. There's no tricks, no special lists, no simple steps leading 1-2-3 to a highly-developed right brain hemisphere. You either got it, or you don't, right?

To that question, I'd answer a firm and unequivocal "Wrong!" We all got it... the question is how to find it. And one of the best ways to find it? Surf your alpha waves.

The Beginner's Mind

From time to time, I'll be moving some of the more relevant posts from a million monkeys typing over to this blog. This is one of them. In a way, it's what led to DIYPlanner.com.

Search for the bullOften we must come full circle --to return to the very beginning-- in the efforts to renew ourselves. To do this, the years of rubbish accumulating in our minds need to be emptied periodically, lest we find ourselves with little room to move and breathe.

This is a little post about Zen. I'm not talking about the clichéd trend of recent years to denote every little amusing bit of human nature as Zen, nor the smug satisfaction of thinking one's excellence in a particular area is Zen, nor am I referring to the misconception tied to the existential angst of nothingness and futility as Zen. These are ridiculous, and only demonstrate one's ignorance of the philosophy. While I don't wish to define Zen here (and it defies verbal description anyway), I want to mention an important way it can help folks whose minds are cluttered by years of intellectual analysis. (Well, it helped me.) I'm talking here about the beginner's mind.

Template Design 101: Making Map Templates

Sample Map TemplateIn the audio book version of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (which comes across as an interesting lecture, by the way, and is not simply an uninspired reading of the book), Stephen R. Covey gives the humourous example of a boss conducting a meeting who sends a visitor a map that (due to a error) has the wrong city. The visitor is hopelessly confused, running lost down all the streets, expending all his energy to find his way. He calls up the boss, who demands, "Try harder!"

Aside from being an interesting allusion for the need to have a clear and correct plan in place, it's also an indication of the importance of maps. Now, I can't produce maps for every place, for every situation, that you might find yourself in. But what I can do is offer you an easy way to create a D*I*Y Planner style set of map templates of your very own.

About Process Control (or, "Herding Hung-over, Grumpy, Horny, Undergrad Gerbils")

My picture nameGreetings. I have just been through one of the most painful experiences of my life and, since I lack a uterus and therefore will never have to experience childbirth, I think there's a fair chance it will remain in the Top 3 forever. After several thousand years of university, I am starting my very last semester, ever, honestly, and I decided to work at the campus bookstore for 'rush week' to make a little extra spending cash. The bookstore employs the humourous euphemism 'rush week' to describe what happens when upwards of 18,000 students try to cram into a smallish room to buy textbooks for outrageous amounts of money. They say you can't put a price on education, but the university bookstore is certainly going to try.

'Rush' is used in the same sense as 'rush hour', in the sense of nobody going anywhere and everybody wanting to impale their fellow man on a sharp, rusty object. Rush week is pretty well equivalent in terms of relaxation to riding through New York Monday morning traffic with someone who has given up checking his blind spots for Lent and is facing backwards and driving with his feet, while someone in the back seat serenades his pet lobster with Mozart's Eine Kleine Nacht Musik played on an air-raid siren. Add to this that many of the people involved are first-year students away from home for the first time, and so are all hung-over and horny (not necessarily in that order). Clearly, you can see the need here for some sort of extremely tight, logical process control to process that many hot, grumpy, horny customers as quickly and efficiently as possible. We didn't get it.

SusanBeth's "Writer Hipster"

SusanBeth posted this kit image in response to many requests and much interest. See the forum post A Writer's "Hipster". - DJ

The only purchase I've ever made for this kit was index cards, and at about $3.00 for 500 that is pretty cheap. Everything else was scrounged together from normal household/office supplies and leftover bits from other projects. And, yes, I feel silly posting a picture of such a minimalist kit. Nevertheless....

Making Creative and Inexpensive Covers

wishing jar collage, by jaymi elfordPlanners are like personalities, every single one is different. Taking a trip to OfficeMax or the grocery store shows you all sorts of planner styles; from leather bound books with colorful forms made by famous artists, to cheap, plastic notebooks. While these planners all have a personality of their own to match any lifestyle... they all share one thing in common. They cost. And sometimes, it gets expensive refilling and buying new ones yearly. Of course, learning how to create your own planners and forms is why we’re here and what D*I*Y* Planner is all about.

So put away your wallets. I’m going to share a few ideas on how to take cheap planner binders or packages and turn them into one-of- a-kind artistic expression of yourself. The suggestions contained in this article are easy and don’t require a whole lot of artistic knowledge or a creative MBA. I believe that making things should be fun, cheap and can be done in small, passionate bursts of time and energy. And now, let’s get busy.

Digital Fountain Pen, Anyone?

Our second guest post is by Australian professional business communicator Lee Hopkins, a guy well-attuned to entrepreneurship, marketing, organisational theory, information technology, and getting his point across. (No small feat, in the same guy.) The reason for asking Lee to contribute is thus self-evident: he has a really cool accent. - DJ

Ditch your digital PDA...I'm no different from any other entrepreneur - at any moment I need access to a diverse range of information: phone numbers, email addresses, website urls, project notes, timesheet logs, and so on. The lovely thing about either a digital or paper-based PDA is that you do have access to such knowledge relatively easily.

But there the similarities cease.

Until recently I enjoyed the luxury of an ancient and crusty Palm III. But somehow, at a party, I misplaced it and its loss has been my pain. This forced me to dig out my trusty old leather A4 paper planner and look around on the web for a suitable set of pages.