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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!

What's your personal kit?

RenArt Moleskine+3x5In my post about my workplace gear, I noted that there had been a certain divergence between the gear I use in the office and the gear I use for my own personal and creative time. Essentially, the office gear is quite polished and uses a Circa system as a base, complete with fancy zip folio and plenty of DIYP forms, while my personal gear is far more... raw.

I've always maintained that structure is important when you have a lot to take on and keep organized, and having a well-built planner (whether digital or analogue) is key to that. But --although my home life does require some degree of organisation-- it's far less than the myriad projects I have to manage for work. In fact, some simple to-do lists and a calendar is about all I need, along with the occasional contact look-up. Thus, part of my kit is a few DiyP HipsterPDA Action cards and a month-view calendar. I copy down pertinent appointments and to-do items so that I can ferry them and sync with my other planner and online tools as needed.

A far bigger concern for me is creativity. Now, creativity comes in many forms, and that's one of the reasons why I created the DiyP Creative Pack, which is a separate pack in Classic and integrated into the HipsterPDA size pack. Having those prompts can help you manage plots, devise (and remember) characters, keep tabs on story props (like that elusive Holy Grail you keep losing), shuffle your storyboards (did Han shoot before or after?), and otherwise structure your ideas. So, part two of my kit: a selection of DiyP creative cards, which may vary according to the project I'm concentrating on.

Forum: On DIY disc-bound covers (with links)


I made something the other day that y'all might be interested in. It was a stiff cover for a circa/rolla notebook.

It actually started life as one of those brown/gray pressed-paper pieces that's used as packing materials. This one was keeping some refrigerator display stickers flat, and had been shrinkwrapped for years. I tossed the stickers and the wrap and grabbed it, thinking it would be good for a notebook cover. Anyway, you get the same kind of thing on the back of gummed legal pads, but they do come in varying thicknesses.

This particular bit of board was too thick to fit into my 5-lb rolla punch, but I hacked it a little to make it fit. This is the important bit.

Review: Cross Roadster Gel Pen

Cross Roadster, closed

In the past couple of years, I've become far more intimate with my writing tools. The act of putting words on paper has become more of a visceral experience, something that I look forward to doing (as opposed to something I'm forced to do). Given my semi-recent hobby of restoring vintage fountain pens, it isn't hard to guess that I'm usually found with a pen in hand that's more than six decades old, sporting a gold nib, and laying down a beautiful wet layer or Waterman's or Noodler's ink. Frankly, I've grown tired of most modern pen designs which are generally contrived to look like all others or to evoke Star Trek in some way. (Think of the recent crop of G2 lookalikes, for example.) Which is why I'm surprised to declare that one of the pens in my current stable is not a fountain pen at all, but a modern gel roller.

I should preface this by saying that not everybody enjoys writing with a wide-barreled pen. I certainly do, although many of my acquaintance think slimmer is better. I find that a wider pen allows me to write a little looser and doesn't require the firm hold that might aggravate carpal tunnel. Make no mistake: the Cross Roadster is definitely a fat pen, about as fat as most people could comfortably use.

I found the Roadster at my local Staples and fell in love with it right away. It's a thick, fairly stubby pen just under 4.5" long; however, with its cap posted it turns into a meaty 5.75". Vaguely bullet-shaped, with a long brushed chrome cap and a sturdy and beautifully-coloured barrel that's well-rounded at its base, it certainly has a look all its own.

Zentangles : A Review

In my pursuit to find fun and new ways to express my creativity on paper, I stumbled across a new art-form called Zentangles. A zentangle is a method of creating images from imaginative patterns. You start by dividing off sections of a small piece of paper and then you draw repetitive doodles and designs within each section. (These are known as tangles). Each doodle and design has its own special and unique name and of course, you're welcome to make up your own tangles. When you are done filling in each space with a different design, you've completed a unique piece of art.

The Zentangle website provides extensive information on the benefits of this art form, where they came from, and how to get started with one of their kits. In my haste to start utilizing this simple-yet-elegant art-form, I ordered one of their Zentangle Kits for $49 USD. Each kit comes with 34 tiles (pre-cut pieces of thick, watercolor paper), 2 Sakura Micron pens, pencils and a sharpener, an instructional book and DVD, a 20-sided dice, and a small Legend that contains 20 tangles to get you all started with.

Forum: In the UK: Atoma/Adoc versus Circa/Rollabind

Okay, I know I'm not the first person to be stuck on this decision. I think I need some user experience to help me out with my problem!

First, and potentially most important: has anyone used the Circa/Rollabind punch with A4 paper? I know it won't fit perfectly, but is it close enough to be functional? Oh, and do A4 papers noticeably stick out of letter-sized covers?

Second, has anyone printed directly on to the Atoma or Adoc paper? It mentions on both the Manufactum (Atoma) and Pegasus National (Adoc) websites that the paper is suitable for inkjet and laser printing. I can see myself offsetting the cost of the £85 Atoma hole punch by buying pre-punched paper and printing on to it, but I'm afraid the paper will jam, etc.

Third, how do people's experiences with paper quality from the different suppliers compare? I think other posters have suggested that Rollabind paper is of somewhat lesser quality than Circa. Does anyone have a similar comparison between Atoma and Adoc paper - or better yet, all four paper types?

Fourth, can anyone compare the strength/durability of the smurf types? That is, to my eye the Atoma/Adoc smurf type seems almost zipper-like and probably holds the paper in place well but might cause more folding/bending of the paper when it's removed and replaced. The Circa/Rollabind seems easier for replacement and removal, but maybe a bit less secure. I haven't seen either system in use, so I'm happy to be corrected by someone with some experience of both!

Thanks for your help!!

Forum: New paper organizer software - "Plans Unfolding"

Hi All,

Some of you might be interested in free software I released ("Plans Unfolding") for creating convenient, pocket-sized paper organizers. Using LaTeX as a typesetting engine, a high quality PDF file is generated of 16 mini-pages, which is then printed on both sides of a sheet of letter paper and folded to create a small booklet that can fit in your pocket. The Windows interface directly supports several types of standard pages (List, Text, Calendars, Contacts, etc.) and maintains all user data between sessions. It also provides page types not seen in conventional organizers, such as a Vigenere Cipher page for on-the-go encrypted text and an Astronomy page with a calculated planisphere of current star/planet/moon locations along with other astronomical data. Beyond this, custom user-designed pages can be easily written in LaTeX script and shared in the Plans Unfolding forum and image galleries.

If you'd like more information, the Plans Unfolding home page is at http://www.plansunfolding.com/.


[Updated: Minor edits, inserted photograph -- DJ]

A Digital Diatribe

iPod TouchThere's a corner of hell reserved for time management gadgets, and I've visited it often these past few months. Conceptually, the ability to manage appointments and to-do lists is so simplistic that 40 years of programming should have made this a no-brainer by now.

The scenario: I want the ability to keep my calendars and tasks in sync between my home, work and mobile gadget. Adding an item to one should propagate it to the others. I should be able to add simple notes, get access to info almost anywhere, and take advantage of the domain to copy and paste data from multiple digital sources. Now, don't get me wrong: I love me my paper planner, but there's only so much you can stuff in it at a time.

Forum: Finding Planners

I've been on the hunt for a new planner, and found this site. I'm very excited about creating my own system. However, I've hit a snag. I'm having a really hard time finding any 3-ring classic sized binders. I've tried both Wal-Mart and Target, and looked around on different office store websites. I keep finding 6 and 7 ring binders and it seems like all binder systems are FC based these days, even at Wal-Mart! I thought I'd be in planner heaven since it's back to school time, but no such luck.

The main reason I'm even considering a diy solution is because I love the 1 week in 2 pages view -- VERTICAL. I haven't been able to find many choices.

So, has anyone seen any 3 ring systems lately? Ideally, I'd like to find one that comes with tabbed dividers and such that I can reuse.

Review: Zen to done; or GTD, the easy way

I will admit that I am possibly the last person in the world to read this e-book. It has been out for some time and got quite some attention on the web, as I found out this week. But still, for those last few who have been in the same cave as I was in until recently, here is a review of the best e-book I have read in a while: Zen to done.

The book was written by Leo Babuta, the same person who writes the Zen Habits blog. The book is intended as an alternative for Getting things done from David Allen, and indeed also takes many ideas from this and other systems. I have also read that book, but found it a bit overwhelming to implement although it has some great concepts in it. Zen to done seems to understand my problems with GTD and give helpful ideas on how to fix them.