DIYPlanner.com

Calendars

We'll eventually be listing all the various calendar forms here, but for now, most of the ones in the Calendar Package should be fairly self-evident.

Remember, though, that there are versions for both Sunday-Saturday weeks (as typically used in North America) and Monday-Sunday weeks (as used in Europe and elsewhere). Please double-check that you're printing the correct type.

Goals and Projects

Some of us can get by with a little gas-station calendar pinned to the wall and a bunch of sticky notes attached to the monitor. That's great if you have to remember the dog-groomer appointment, but most of us dream big, and pursue big projects. Sticky notes don't cut it any more. That's why we designed a number of templates for outlining and managing your goals and projects. The D*I*Y Planner kit has dozens and dozens of ways for you to ensure that whatever you do, it's going to be a big success.

(The list below doesn't include generic action lists, which you can find in the Actions and Agendas page.)

Harmony
Harmony is about balancing your life, which is one of the hardest things to do in this day and age. We work endless hours at the office, ignoring our families. Or we spend so much time with friends that we neglect the more internal, spiritual, inspirational aspects of our lives.

The Harmony form is designed to help you balance your life. The yin-yang up top is surrounded by four boxes for outlining this week's physical, social, mental and spiritual goals. (Spiritual, in this context, is not necessarily religious but inspirational, such as reading a profound book, communing with nature, or learning life-lessons from a mentor.) By setting one realistic goal in each box, you can ensure that your own personal development in each aspect is underway.

Below at left is a place for setting each of your life roles. Think about the roles you play: employee, husband, volunteer, athelete, parent, and so forth. Put a role in each of the title areas, and then list a few items to do that week that helps fulfill that role. As a parent, for example, you may wish to spend a few hours building a bird house with your son, or as a volunteer, you may wish to make arrangements for a library funding drive. Ensuring that each role has actions to be done will help your overall sense of balance and purpose.

At right, the telescope signifies your overall vision for the week: use this to set a strong personal or professional goal: "Show more affection to my wife and children" or "Get product ready for launch on Saturday." Beneath that are flagged projects/categories and actions. These are not necessarily the same as GTD's Next Actions. Next Actions are small tasks, whereas the actions under the flagged projects are larger items that help "feed" the next actions. For example, you may have "Finish report", which may take a couple of days, but your next actions list would break down this into bite-sized doable chunks.

Harmony is not only about planning: it's about meditating, thinking, learning to balance, and making sure that all major aspects of your life are working together to make you a better, more productive person.

Goal Planning
Everyone has dreams and desires. This Goal Planning template will help you take stock and keep track of every dream you wish to
attain. Simply write down what the goal is, and what would define it as wildly successful, and then use the rest of the fields on this form to map out each step to get to that goal.
Objectives
Use the Objectives form for outcomes-based planning. Each of these can be a "mini-plan," or compliment a full project plan as a sub-project. Outline the benefits, obstacles and steps to meeting the objective. You can set a date, priority, and description for each objective as well. You may use the "Outcome" field either as a note describing the final outcome, or as a place to visualise what the successful outcome will be. (Whichever you find more effective, being a by-product of the way in which you approach your projects.)
Priority Matrix
We constantly live in crisis mode, jumping from one urgent demand to another without according (or even thinking about) how important those tasks are. Use the Priority Matrix to brainstorm all the tasks you face, and where they lie in terms of urgency and importance. According to Stephen Covey (see First Things First), our chief goal should be in reducing the number of "urgent/non-important" tasks in our lifes, and instead concentrate on those "non-urgent/important" tasks that lead to longer-term advantages. Many people do this brainstorming as part of a weekly or monthly review, so they can keep their day-to-day actions in the proper perspective.
Project Details
This is the ultimate template to track all the little details of a single project. The Project Details form gives you fields to break
down and fully realise your project from conception to completion.
The first page contains fields for start and end dates, project
description, resource planning, and notes; while the second page
contains in depth information on team members, budgets, and materials that the project requires to be successful. Use this two-page template as a cover sheet that contains all the high level details of every project your working on so that you have them when anyone asks you, 'What the budget of XYZ is' again.
Project Outline
This is the next form in a series of project oriented templates that help organise and define a large scale project. The Project Outline template helps track specific project goals and any challenges and solutions the project is faced with. It also keeps track of any specific tasks and provides a completion checkbox when each one is done. A second page is also included that provides a full page's worth of Tasks if you need more space to list all the steps to make the project a success.
Project Notes
The Project Notes template is a simple grid page that allows you to sketch or write out any notes specific to the project.
Project Tracker
Similar to the Project Details page, the Project Tracker template helps you track time and issues related to a specific project. This form was designed to monitor each action item or task associated with a project and the impact it has on the project. (Whether the impact is budget-based or time-based, is all up to you.) As such, the fields relate to time and impact importance and include Item/Action/Completion columns, Notes and Issues, and Dates.
Job Tracker
For people who deal more with particular clients than projects, this sheet helps track time and jobs based on clients. It contains client-project specific information on one form. With fields like Rate, On-site, Expenses, Travel Time and Specifics, this form keeps the details of working with particular clients in one location for ease of billing.
Docket Timesheet
The Docket Timesheet template is a simple 5 column template that
allows you to track time based on task. Each page allows you to track a Docket (or file), Duration, Date, Time and Task to easily keep track of where all your hours go to. Use a separate line to track each task you do on every project to see where you spend most of your time.
Weekly Tracker
The Weekly Tracker template is a very open ended template. Use this form to track weekly hours spend on projects, or track how many hours spent on practicing music. Many of the fields on this template do not have names which allows you to be free to use it to track whatever you want during the week. Each template contains enough space to track 2 weeks worth of information.
Crossroads
The Crossroads template helps in identifying different ways to get to a goal or 'destination'. If you are experiencing trouble deciding on life or project issues and which way to go on them, use this form. Write down the thing that’s on your mind and then create a possible "destination" or an outcome for it. Then using each path, labeled 1-4, try and identify the different ways that the destination can be achieved and each micro-step of that process. Once you’ve finished and reached your goal, use the Looking Back field to record thoughts about what path you've done and how you feel.
Contacts
The Contacts template keeps track of people information. Need to keep a list of all your family and friends? Use this form to track their addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses in one handy spot. There are no alphabet tabs on this form which allows you to separate the names out in any way you want... even by project if you wish.
Contact Log
Need a way to keep track of notes from important phone calls? Use the Contact Log to record important information from meetings or phone calls. There are two parts to this template. The top of the template gives you fields and spaces for your contact’s personal information. The second half of the template allows you to list the topics you discussed and whether or not they require a follow-up to. A second page is also provide to track more details if the first page does not contain enough space.
Equipment
In this day and age it's hard to get by without owning some new sort of electronic gadget or device. Each one comes with its own serial number and make and model and it can be difficult to track all these important numbers. Especially when the stickers wear off or the item's serial is printed on the bottom of it and you cannot easily view it when on the phone with tech support. Enter the Equipment Log. This form will track all the important data for each of your little electronic helpers in one easy place. If you're going on a trip, fill out one of these forms with all the equipment you're toting along, and use the checkboxes as a way of recording whether you've packed it or not.
Job Search
One of the problems with job hunting is keeping track of all the possible jobs, descriptions, deadlines, contacts, requirements, interviews and call logging. This form is meant to help you focus on one job opportunity at a time and keep track of all pertinent information. Also designed to help you zero in on your strengths and weaknesses for the position (and what priority each has for the job), so you may tailor your resume, cover letter or interview responses appropriately.
Sources
This is a handy little form to keep track of people and businesses pertinent to a particular project or subject. Some ideas: a "yellow pages" for types of restaurants; a mailing list; suppliers for a project; mail-order or online stores for your hobbies; invited people for a wedding or party; local computer stores; singing messengers that are willing to dress in gorilla suits.

Frequently Asked Questions: General

  1. Why did you make these templates?

    There are a number of reasons for project. I wanted to get back to using a paper planner, especially for more creative endeavours. The Palm is a great tool, but like with my computers, I tend to associate it with office and technical work. With a paper-based planner I could get back to basics without all the impediments of a rigid computer-imposed 'structure'. I now live four hours from the closest Staples, and it is almost impossible to find commercial templates in this neck of the woods. I like the freedom to make templates that suit my lifestyle. For example, there are very few commercial templates for right-brained folks. I'm cheap, my wife will no doubt verify this fact, and I can make my own templates for 1/20th the cost of purchasing them and still have ones that look and feel semi-professional.

  2. I don't recall some of these ideas mentioned in the Getting Things Done book. What's up?

    The GTD system, in itself, leaves a lot of room for customisation and circumstance. And well it should, or it would be far too rigid for most progressive thinkers to use. What I've done is try to adapt some of Allen's methods to my particular workflow, and devised these templates to hold and structure the information that I need to record and use; at least, that's how this project started... Nowadays, the emphasis is on creating templates that can be adapted to almost any methodology, whether that's GTD, Covey, or anything else you might think of using.

  3. Will you make the templates available in 'my' size?

    Well, let me put this in perspective. There are over 120 templates currently included in the Classic/A5 kit, and more than 90 in the Hipster PDA. To create any other version, I would essentially have to redesign every template, since it's not simply a matter of doing a quick scaling-up (or -down). Making custom sizes for everyone would be the death of a thousand cuts. I'm not saying I'll never create a personal size kit, but given the fact that there is --as yet-- only one of me, it's not very likely in the near future. That being said, there is a third-party volunteer working on producing a kit based upon my templates, and hopefully there should be something available in the future.

  4. Which programs did you make these templates in?

    Most D*I*Y Planner templates are constructed in Adobe Illustrator then output to PDF using InDesign. The graphics version of the Hipster PDA Edition was made by pasting each Illustrator template into Photoshop, and then output from there as optimised 8-bit PNG files. Other templates, such as the Classic/A5 cover kit, and the Widget Kit, were done in OpenOffice.org 2 Draw.

  5. Can I have copies of the original source files so I can modify them for my own purposes?

    Sorry. These files are not only a complex interplay of literally thousands of Illustrator and InDesign layers, but I guard the sources to prevent (ahem) 'commercial malfeasance' -- something which I have rather unfortunately faced in the past. As such, they are usually kept locked in a vault at a secret location several hundred fathoms deep in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

  6. May I submit my some of my own templates?

    You may certainly do so. Please see Submission Guidelines for further details.

  7. Wasn't there some Covey stuff earlier? Did I imagine that?

    All that win/win synergy was a paradigm-induced dream, I'm afraid: go back to sleep and dream of how the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing (TM, All Rights Reserved). DIYPlanner.com will no longer produce or make available templates based directly on Franklin-Covey's intellectual property, including Saw Sharpening (TM), or Highly Effective (TM) ideas.

    That being said, a number of the "organisationally agnostic" forms like Harmony and Priority Matrix can be easily adapted to those methodologies.

  8. Can I have these printed and sell them?

    No. They are released under a Creative Commons licence, which dictates that:

    You are free:

    • to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work under the following conditions:
      • Attribution. You must give the original author credit.
      • Noncommercial. You may not use this work for commercial purposes.
      • No Derivative Works. You may not alter, transform, or build upon this work.
      • For any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the license terms of this work.
      • Any of these conditions can be waived if you get permission from the copyright holder.

      Your fair use and other rights are in no way affected by the above.

    If you want to have these professionally printed for sale, please contact me and we'll chat. If you do decide to 'perform' the work, I'd love a videotape of it.

  9. You're giving these away for free? Are you insane?

    While that's often the subject of some debate, it has nothing to do with the reason why I'm giving this package away for free. I'm a firm believer in Open Source, free education and the empowering of knowledge; I believe that I'm put on Earth to somehow make a difference, whether that's as an educator, an advisor, a father, or something else. Now, I'm not stupid... I've released this package under a licence that may eventually allow me to make some money. How exactly, I've not yet decided. Don't worry, though: this planner system will always remain free for download and personal use.

  10. How can I get involved in the D*I*Y Planner project?

    The D*I*Y Planner evolves constantly and I always consider it a work in progress. If you have any comments please feel free to get in touch with 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.

  11. You've really made a difference in my life. Is there anything I can do to repay you?

    Well, there's no obligation, but there are a few things you can do to help us along:

    • We have an Amazon affiliate account, so if you purchase items by clicking on one of our links, we get a small cut.
    • We have a PayPal account set up to accept donations. (See the button above the download section.) You can fund the pizza for the next all-night template session. Or ink. We need lots of ink. ;-)
    • Tell your friends about the D*I*Y Planner, and where to find it.
    • I'm always on the lookout for new or unusual planners, templates, pens, software or other gear. Feel free to donate anything you think might pique my interest. (Contact me for my info.)
    • Please link to our site if you like the kit. You can use the following HTML:

      <a
      href="http://www.diyplanner.com"><img
      src="http://www.douglasjohnston.net/templates/logos/logo_web_tinier.gif"
      border="0" alt="Get the D*I*Y Planner" height="45" width="75"></a>

  12. Your English is weird.

    That's because I'm Canadian. That means I'm allowed to use more vowels, and also that I harbour a mortal fear of the letter 'z'.

A Special Note

From Douglas Johnston, the creator and designer of the D*I*Y Planner project:

This project started so simply. I wanted some way of using a planner to implement David Allen's Getting Things Done, but I lived four hours' away from the nearest Staples, and --to tell the truth-- there was no way my wife would ever allow me to spend the exorbitant amounts of pocket change needed to keep me regularly supplied with Day Runner or Day-Timer forms anyway.

One Friday night I was at work awaiting a conference call, and I looked at one of my few remaining Day Runner forms. Hmmmm.... You know, I thought, that doesn't look very hard to make. Still waiting for the call, I opened up Illustrator and made my first Next Actions form in less than ten minutes. By time the phone rang an hour later, I had four more forms done. After the call, I stayed late and did a few more. By the end of the weekend, I had a full dozen done.

They were amateurish, to say the least. The design was blocky, the greytones were inconsistent, the fonts were random, and the placement of the elements seemed to imply intoxication. I called the resulting PDF the "GTD Planner" (catchy title, right?) and released the forms as a one-shot deal on my blog, tossing it into the winds, determined to leave it behind thereafter. And then the downloads started to happen. And continued to happen. Four hundred in a little more than a week, to be exact. My blog went from a couple dozen readers to a nearly a thousand. I scratched my head, dumbfounded. You mean, other people find this stuff useful, too?

So as respect the trademark of Mr. Allen, the package was quickly renamed the DIY Planner, and I started adding more and more forms, creating them in response to my own uses, then discovering others had the same needs. The rest of the story should be fairly self-evident, at least for those people familiar with DIYPlanner.com.

And so here we are, on the eve of version 3.0. As I write this, we are standing firm at over 400,000 downloads of versions 1, 2 and the Hipster PDA. They say that the third time's the charm. I hope that's true. This version has been nearly a year in development, and I've tried to make the kits as powerful, adaptable and professional as I could, given my limited resources. (After all, it is a volunteer project, and my poor Mac is nearly six years old.) I'm anxious to see how it will be received. If nothing else, I'm hoping to help people save money, become more productive, and explore their creativity, and --just maybe-- I'll earn a little good karma in the process.

So now the thank-you's. First of all, this wouldn't be possible without the inspiration provided by David Allen. My years of haphazardly following every half-cooked productivity method came to an end when I realised how effective his GTD methods were for me. (And I'm not alone, judging from the thousands of D*I*Y Planner users who rate GTD above any other system.) His frank, no-nonsense and effective methodology, his openness towards letting folks on the Net share their GTD ideas, tweaks and philosophies, his eagerness to be candid and share his musings on a regular basis, and even his honest and humble admissions of being a mere human (you may laugh, but have you heard "the competition"?) -- all of these make him an ideal guru to lead the way into a new era of productive thought.

The DIYPlanner.com team has also earned my eternal thanks. They came from out of nowhere to help set up the site, to write articles on a weekly basis, to help out in the forums and comments, and to be there for me, personally, when I felt the pressures of life weighing heavy on my shoulders. Thanks to Eric, who was integral in getting DIYPlanner.com running, with all its bells and whistles; thanks to Sacha, my little cheerleader who knows a thing or two about becoming productive. Thanks to Jaymi, who not only shares her creative inspiration with us weekly, but who jumped in to help re-structure, write and edit this new handbook. Thanks to Steve for reminding me that the world is not necessarily too much with us, late and soon. Thank you to our newcomer Hugo, who took the reigns with the handbook and cat-herding, while I concentrated on polishing all the forms. And thank you to all the folks on the production team (and especially co-editor Rebecca) who contributed their time to writing and proofing and providing essential feedback.

And, last but not least, thanks to my wife Jennifer and my baby son Conor, who have had to deal with reams of paper, empty ink cartridges, strange calls from the media, obsessive tendencies regarding greys and fonts, a blurry-eyed coffee-swilling morning wreck, and a decided lack of quality time in recent months. This project is dedicated to them.

DIYPlanner Updates

Yes, things continue to be a little hectic around here as we prepare for the big release of D*I*Y Planner v3. I'm bouncing back and forth between the template designs and doing some writing for the new kit, so I just wanted to jot down a few notes to share with you.

  • First of all, the thing that many of you have been wondering: when? "In about a week," is the best answer I can give you. "When it's ready," would be more appropriate. I tried to fit in a number of requests for the calendar pack, and also did Monday-Sunday weeks (as generally used in Europe). This took several days longer than expected. We're still working on the handbook and template descriptions as well, which is also taking a little longer.

Handbook v3 in Progress

under construction(Heh. That's the first time I've used an animated GIF in about a decade, but I couldn't resist.)

Astute observers will note that a number of strange placeholder pages, strange topics, "sh*tty first drafts" (to quote Anne Lamott) and so on are appearing in the system. Not to panic: this is the random and shifting collection of words that will eventually become version three of our handbook, being updated for the impending release of D*I*Y Planner v3 Classic/A5 Edition, and led by our own Sardonios and Innowen while I concentrate on the kit designs.

Please ignore the dust and debris, and don't forget your hard hat....

Currently Using a Palm or Software Planner System

The Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) has been with us in one form or another for more than two decades now. While software planners (such as Palms, PocketPCs and, more recently, smartphone devices) are undeniably good at many things, organising things the human way isn’t necessarily one of them. Switching or returning back to paper can be a daunting task for those of us who have been using electronic solutions. Bringing paper back into your workflow isn’t as hard as it may appear to be at first glance.

  • Make a list. Before you buy that nice leather planner or binding at the stationary shop and set out converting everything from digital to paper, you need to make sure that it is the right thing for you. Think about how you use your PDA or planner application. Make a list of each task for which you use your software planner. Are your primary tasks keeping track of appointments? People? Notes? A journal? Lists? Doodles? You may find that, like me, you often scribble things on pieces of paper and transfer them to the PDA at a later stage. Equally I often forget, or don’t have time, and have ended up with a PDA case that is part PDA and part sticky notes. Those sticky notes are classic examples of things that can be better done, or left, on paper.

  • Which size is right for you? Do you want pocket sized, or something that fits in a bag. I always felt constrained by the small screen on PDAs, and equally by traditionally-sized (3.75"x6.75") 'Filofax' paper. In the end I settled on 5.5"x8.5" (A5) as an ideal compromise. Think, too, about paper(*) and pen. I find that one of the best things of writing on paper is the pleasurable experience, and writing with a cheap ballpoint on laser paper isn’t going to give you that. It can, in fact, be downright uncomfortable. Go and play with pen and paper to find which ones you prefer. An added bonus is that a good pen (which needn’t be an expensive one) can make a world of difference to those of us who don’t have the neatest handwriting.

  • The D*I*Y Planner forms. Now that you have looked at your sizing, paper, pens and electronic records, as well as how you use them, it is time to look at the D*I*Y forms. Remember that, like so many of the features in today’s applications, you won’t need all that D*I*Y offers. So while it is tempting to try to use them all, that isn’t the best thing. Instead, start by looking at which forms best fit the information you have. I started out with plain notes pages and checked how I used them, then revisited the D*I*Y forms and found several that worked perfectly, and others that came close. Even now, many months later I find that I use the free-form Cornell notes pages most often, although I browse the template pack regularly to see if my evolving information can fit in the newly presented templates.

  • Running the electronic and paper in parallel. If you have the time you might try running the electronic and paper in parallel to see which you are more comfortable with, both in entering information and retrieving it at a later stage. This is important; paper doesn’t do everything better. No paper planner is going to wake you up at 6am in the morning because you have to get to the office for that early meeting. If you handle a lot of addresses, that you have to regularly reference, sort, and synchronise then a PDA is going to be more adaptable than paper. And backups of that sort of information are a lot easier to perform: important for those of us likely to lose things to close encounters with pet/baby/mud/wheels. For those times when the PDA is out of battery power you can use the synchronising application’s export function to create a paper copy which can be safely kept in your planner.

  • Paper is friendly. Unlike the electronic realm, paper is infinitely user-friendly and flexible. Never feel constrained by what the templates offer you. Instead of doodling in dull meetings I find myself thinking of ways to organise information better. And if what you need isn’t in the D*I*Y Planner kit you can always roll your own with OpenOffice.org.

(*)Note: please make certain any paper you choose is inkjet compatible.

(contributed by Charles Kooij)

Currently Using a Paper Planner

So you’ve got a paper planner, but it’s just not working for you. Your old planner is still valuable and it can help you find a better way to get organised. The following is a list of ideas that should get you from your old paper planner to your new D*I*Y Planner.

  • Take stock of what you have. Make a list of everything in your existing planner. One type of page, one line. Beside each type of page detail (briefly) how often you used it and what you used it for. If your list is very long, but your details are scant, your planner isn’t working as well for you as it should. Chances are your list of uses differs slightly from the page type (for example, do you have sections of your planner that are almost obscured by notes? Are there forms that are almost entirely blank?). Don’t judge it, just make the list.

  • Evaluate your list. For every page type in your existing planner that you actually used appropriately, put a check mark on the line. Those lines with check marks show the list of pages that you are using that work for you. Those without check marks are a list of what didn’t work. This is not what you are going to 'fix' or do 'better', instead it shows what you have been doing.

  • Let go of what doesn’t work for you. Your planner has to work for you. If your contacts are never kept up to date in your planner, but are always up to date on your cell phone – maybe you shouldn’t keep your contacts in your planner. Eliminating something that just doesn’t work is the first major step to having a planner that is a tool for you rather then a series of pages that should be used. A planner should not be a little personal bureaucrat that insists you make your life fit its form.

  • How does what works fit in your planner? Once you know what forms are likely to work for you, start thinking about how they should fit in your planner. Do you want to make sections for different forms? Perhaps sections for different places, parts or your life or project would make more sense. Think about how you are going to put your planner together before you start printing out forms. Look back at your list and your evaluation. Are the notes clustered around a date, or on a blank page? Do you organize things by the day or date on which they occur, by topic, or by something else? Add this information to your list.

  • Once you know what forms are likely to work for you, start thinking about how they should fit in your planner. Do you want to make sections for different forms? Perhaps sections for different places, parts or your life or project would make more sense. Think about how you are going to put your planner together before you start printing out forms.

  • Add in new things as slowly as you can. The D*I*Y Planner offers a lot of templates. I hope that no one needs them all. They offer a strong temptation, but having a place for a specific type of information doesn't mean you are going to actually use the template and track that data. Keep your planner simple and start with as few forms as possible. By only using the forms you really need you can keep your planner slim and actually use it.

(contributed by Melissa Carrell Hall)

Currently Without a Planner

If you are currently without a system, you may be at a loss as to exactly where to begin. On the positive side, you are an organisational tabula rasa, a blank slate that won't have anything to unlearn. On the negative side, you are an organisational tabula rasa, a blank slate with no current workable plan for getting and staying organised.

  • It's likely that you have some sort of embryonic system, but you probably just don’t think of it as such. It may be a stack of adhesive-backed notes that is permanently stuck to the inside of your wallet. It may be an ancient address book that usually stays stuffed in a drawer at home, a Rolodex that you reference infrequently, a flip-top notebook that you carry in your shirt pocket. The point is, even though you may have no intentional system, you may have a few default tools lying about which you can modify or otherwise incorporate into your D*I*Y Planner setup.

  • Your first step is to spend a few days paying attention to your usual routine. Determine what is working for you, and what isn’t. Start taking notes throughout the day — the whole idea of a planner is that your mind wasn’t made to remember all these details by itself. You might also sit down and think of all the times that you previously used a planner with some success, and write down elements of that which did and didn’t work for you.

  • Another early step is to hit your local library and start looking at books on personal organisation systems. You may want to pick up David Allen's Getting Things Done, or Stephen Covey's First Things First. Alternately, reading such a book may be what's prompting you to create a planner. If that's the case, great. You’re starting out with a paradigm framework already in mind. Once again, take notes of the particular elements that you think will work best for you personally. The D*I*Y Planner is all about making a personal organisational system that works for you.

  • Gather up whatever constitutes your current non-planner system: an address book, your cell phone (if you sometimes use it as an address book or for alarms), your pile of sticky notes, your notebook or journal, etc. Use these items and your notes to determine which templates you think you will most likely use on a regular basis.

  • Bear some things in mind as you select a format. Left-handers may prefer the Hipster or a top-bound notebook (like a moleskine). If your writing is large, you may find that you need to stick with a larger format or go with a notebook without lines. Initially, you may want to split up your chosen templates into a few different formats to see which one you like better in actual practice.

  • It's best to overestimate your needs at first. It’s difficult to tell if you will use a template when you don’t have easy access to it during the day. After you’ve lived with your planner for a few weeks, it should quickly become apparent which sheets aren’t relevant to you. You can always edit them out later, or add in others as you find you need them.

  • The key for the person who is not currently using a planner is to commit to the process. You are probably not going to devise your perfect planner on the first try. Remember that you are trying to build a new habit of carrying a trusted system with you. In order to trust the system, you have to trust that you will use the system. Remember to keep it with you and keep it current. Your consistency in using it is more important in the beginning. Once you’ve built the habit of always having your planner with you, you can always tweak and modify it for the best personal effect.

(contributed by Katina French)