Analog / Digital

A Well Balanced Pie

Sometimes I feel like there's never enough time in a day to get everything done. I get up, go to work, come home and do housework and D*I*Y Planner duties and then play World of Warcraft (when there's time). I always feel like my To Do list gets fatter and fuller and longer and it never shrinks. I'm finding it hard to strike a balance in my life between all the roles and responsibilities I have. So, what does someone do when their overwhelmed? Well, in my case, I turned to pies.

I wish I could tell you how yummy these pies are, with a soft, moist, and warm apple center and light, flakey crust. But I can't. You see... I'd be lying (and gaining an unhealthy amount of weight) if it were to those pies I turned to every time I felt swamped and overwhelmed in life. No, I'm talking about cooking up and comparing a few pie charts to help you get a bigger and better picture of where you spend your time and how you envision the perfectly balanced life. I'll even make it easier by giving you the recipe and detailed instructions. All you need to do is add your dreams, time, and patience.

Improv as a Business Skill

improv(photo credit the eggplant)

It's Monday morning. You've been up all night with the baby, and you had a problem with your car earlier in the day. Now, you're supposed to be pitching a new project to the boss and his peers, and you haven't really prepared much at all. You believe you know what you're talking about, but you haven't scripted the presentation. What to do?

On a site with "planner" in its title, it's pretty sacreligious to talk about improv, the art of "just showing up," but I think the talents and skills one acquires by studying improv relate directly to how we do what we do. In building your improv talents, you learn that something is lost in over-preparing, and that there are benefits to be realized from being directly in the moment and thinking on your feet.

A journey continued: my first hPDA

I've done it! I've come home to paper. In my first entry here at D*I*Y Planner, I wrote about my attempts to make a hPDA, and how - when that didn't run entirely smoothly - I turned back to using a PC, and then over a period of months moved more and more to paper. Well, I have now finally managed to do it - to make my very own hPDA. I backslid a little along the way, and dabbled with a few new digital tools, but I have finally come home to paper. The journey was eventful, but that was entirely to do with the way I work, and in the end it was pretty simple.

I'll start with confessing my backsliding. A while back, I posted a long piece on the forums over at the wonderful about my search for the perfect GTD software. GTD Wannabe cross-posted to that forum, and when I checked in to see if anyone had posted responses, I saw that GTD Wannabe had put up a new essay, telling of some new wiki-based GTD implementations. I resisted. Really, I did.

Up In Smoke - Disaster Recovery for Paper-Based Planners

One of the temptations of the paper-based planning fraternity is the almost irresistible desire to be smug when faced with the technical difficulties of others' electronic organisation systems.

After all, paper planners don't crash. They don't have PC connectivity problems. Appointment entries and notes don't just vanish inexplicably, just when you need to access them. Paper doesn't take an age to boot up, and never seems to run out of batteries. We proudly extol the virtues of paper to our collegues fuming faces, and brandish our little loose-leaf planners at them, parading them as evidence of the future of productivity.

However, things go very, very, wrong, when the next day, we leave our planner in the coffee shop and it's gone when we rush back....

I dvemd I wa Sat in a wntywd: Coming Home to Paper

Garbled PDAI don't, at the moment, use a D*I*Y Planner. I've tried a few times, getting as far as buying two stacks of index cards, and even so far as selecting the templates I needed. But when I fired up my old printer, it screeched and crunched and tore my cards to shreds. It took an afternoon, and ink-stains most of the way to my elbows, to extract all the bits, and my printer's never really recovered. Of course, this was a demonstration of my old hardware's limitations, rather than of problems with the D*I*Y Planner, but I went back to my tried and trusted PDA, convinced that paper was for people a whole lot hipper than me. But read on....

Folding Cover Instructions


  • 1/ Review diagram before cutting.
  • 2/ Decide on whether you wish the optional inside pocket (C) and/or the optional grey strips, (1 & 3) used to protect tabbed cards.

  • With_pocket

  • 3/ If using the optional pocket decide on your form factor. If half-height, cut off top half and leave the bottom (with the grey tab)(Y). If half-width, make a vertical cut where indicated. (X) Slash pockets can be cut however makes sense.
  • 4/ Cut out the rest of the design, leaving all necessary tabs. Keep the discards handy for reference.
  • Without_pocket

  • 5/ Fold the inner pocket. (C) Glue or tape the outside edge of the grey tab (3) for a half-height pocket. Fold over the black tab (2) to secure the pocket and trim. Glue or tape.
  • 6/ Fold the top edge of the back cover, (B & BB) and --packing your desired number of cards inside-- fold over the top cover. (You can use the fold indicator on the printout. to estimate 25-35 cards.) Trim bottom edge of cover (A) to size of cards.

  • Folding Cover with Optional Pocket

    Love your D*I*Y hipster, want to share it with your friends and family? Make it a real gift with the hPDA V3 Folding Cover. The ultimate in designer hipster wear. This package contains all you need(*) to make your own, including full instructions and the now famous 'D*I*Y Monkeys' by illustrator Brad Reid. A pocket for stamps, phone card, etc. and an 'If Found Please Contact' form. Just remember the Monkeys.go at the front...

    (*) Just add card and ink.

    D*I*Y Planner Hipster PDA Edition Read Me

    D*I*Y Planner 3.0 Hipster PDA Edition

    Templates and text are ©2004-2006 Douglas Johnston except where noted

    About the Hipster PDA Edition

    The D*I*Y Planner 3.0 Hipster PDA Edition is a series of do-it-yourself 3"x5" (index card size) templates for planning and organisational purposes. It was created as a supplement to the D*I*Y Planner 3.0 kit and the templates are re-designed for the smaller paper size.

    Please note that these instructions are meant to compliment the D*I*Y Planner Handbook (included with the regular kit), and as such only detail the differences in the two editions.

    This package is available in three forms: 1-up, 2-up and graphics. Depending on your printer, paper stock, software and set-up, one format will probably make more sense than the others. Please read the descriptions below and decide for yourself.

    For more information about the Hipster PDA, as conceived by Merlin Mann, please visit

    If you have any questions, please read the Frequently Asked Questions, as the answer is likely to be there.

    The 1-Up Version

    The 1-Up version is meant for printing directly onto 3"x5" index card stock. However, your printer may not be able to handle margins that are, by necessity, close to the edge. Your forms may be clipped. If your printer is capable of full-bleed printing or has no problems with 1/8" (3mm) margins, and you have the appropriate index (record) card stock, this is probably the best format for you. Simply feed the cards into the printer (perhaps in an envelope tray), and print. Do not let Adobe Acrobat resize, scale or centre the documents.

    The 4-Up Version

    The 4-Up version is meant for printing four adjacent cards onto letter-size (8.5" x 11") card stock and then you can cut the page apart with a guillotine or scissors. If you want to print double-sided cards (for example, the monthly 'flip card'), simply turn over the paper and print again.

    Since the four cards are exactly centred on the page you should be able to print these on A4 paper as well. Just remember to tell Acrobat to centre (but not scale)the document.

    You can usually find a decent 'paper' guillotine at office supply and department stores for between 30-60 USD. Avoid 'rotary trimmers' and get one with a self-sharpening chopper arm. For an example, see the GBC GT II Series Trimmer, 15in., which is a great investment for a fairly low price, and you'll probably be passing it on to your grandchildren.

    The Graphics Version

    The graphics version is for those people who:

    • Have problems printing with the supplied PDFs because of their printers (or cranky Acrobat settings).
    • Want to use a different layout programs, such as Freehand, Illustrator, CorelDRAW or Draw.
    • Use Avery perforated forms, or similar, and want to paste the D*I*Y templates into their regular layout program.
    • Use different paper sizes and want to arrange the templates to make the best use of space.
    • Want to make minor modifications to the templates such as changing colours, titles, spacings or supplied text.
    • As this covers quite a number of possibilities and setups, they cannot all be covered here. What we can recommend is to try layouts using the free Draw (you can put a different card on each 'slide') and graphics manipulation using the free application The Gimp. The D*I*Y planner uses the free font named Blue Highway.

    For those who are curious about such things, the file format used is 8-bit PNG, and should work well with almost any modern bitmap graphic application.

    Please note that these graphic files are released under a Creative Commons Non-Commercial No-Derivatives licence. However, I waive the no-derivatives part if you wish to make modifications of these files for your own personal use. If you make something you'd like to share, please see our How-To: Submitting a Template page.

    Printing Tips

    It seems that a lot of people have issues with odd paper sizes, different types of stock, and bewildering printer setups. Most of these issues can be avoiding by keeping a few things in mind while setting up to print your cards.

    Print Resolution
    Because of the small fonts and subtle greys you should use a fairly high resolution when printing, at least 600 dpi. However it is equally important to bear in mind the quality of coating on the paper. Too high a dpi can be as bad as too low. My Mac OS X print dialog does not allow me to choose DPI, I find that if I set the Print Mode to be the highest quality possible for the paper (under 'Detailed Setting'), it works beautifully. Your own settings will depend heavily upon your OS and drivers.
    Card Stock
    You should certainly use coated (or otherwise hi-res) card stock. If not, you will experience some muddiness and bleeding of ink, making it difficult to read the small fonts. For example, we find 110lb (280-300 gsm) bright white card stock is absolutely perfect on one side (the one with the best coating), and very good on the other. However, the generic index (record) cards we picked up at the local department store result in small type that is almost illegible.

    By way of weight, you probably want between 60lb and 110lb (160-300 gsm)(with the typical index card being about 90lb (240 gsm), I'm guessing). Keep in mind that weight is very much a personal preference: you may prefer lighter and thinner cards if you like to carry around a lot of them, or heavier ones if they undergo extensive usage (such as monthly and yearly calendars). Or you may prefer a mix of weights in your set. De gustibus.

    Whatever you choose, be sure to experiment with your printer settings, printing a test page each time (on both sides, if you intend to print double-sided). You may find, for example, that choosing "Plain Paper" results in far less ink being laid than "Matte Photo Paper", and therefore the fonts will look far more crisp. This was the case with my Canon i350 under Mac OS X. Your mileage will certainly vary.

    Printing Margins
    Because of the limited space on 3x5" cards, these templates were designed with 1/8" (3mm) margins. Many printers have minimum 1/4" (6mm) margins, and so you will experience clipping. If this is the case with your setup, you should use the 4-Up version, or the graphics version in your own layout program (which should allow you to resize as necessary).
    Saving Ink
    There are a number of ways to save ink, depending on your printer. First, try printing the black-and-white templates in 'Grayscale' mode. While the resolution might be slightly lower, you aren't going to use a lot of colour ink to simulate black as many inkjets do, even if they have a black cartridge. (Silly, yes, I know.) Second, try printing with your media set to "Plain Paper". Many printers lay on less ink in this mode, sometimes less than half of that used for photo, matte or inkjet paper. Third, and I know this is common sense, only print what you need. Some people get carried away with printing a tonne of templates at the very start, only to find that many of them are ill-suited for their planning style.


    The D*I*Y Planner kits evolve constantly, and I always consider them to be works in progress. If you have any comments about them, please feel free to contact me through my contact form. I'd love to hear any suggestions you might have, and I'll certainly listen to any proposed areas of improvement or new templates you would like to see.

    Take care, stay loose, be kind, and do things right.

    D*I*Y Planner Hipster PDA Edition

    The D*I*Y Planner 3.0 Hipster PDA Edition is a series of do-it-yourself 3"x5" (index card size) templates for planning and organisational purposes. It was created as a supplement to the D*I*Y Planner 3.0 kit and the templates are re-designed for the smaller paper size.

    For more information about the Hipster PDA, as conceived by Merlin Mann, please visit