Sam and the D I Y Planner

I’m an admirer of all the greats when it comes to productivity, Allen, Mann, Randall ;)… but when it comes to setting up a workable productivity system for myself, something I can live with and actually use, I haven’t found the one for me yet. I tried GTD, and fell at the first hurdle. I tried a Hipster PDA, and it fell apart in my bag. I tried a PigPog PDA, and lost the plot when I got my moleskines mixed up and drew a carnation in it.

So here’s my latest adventure… the D(asterisk)I(asterisk)Y(asterisk) Planner. Developed by Douglas Johnston, he took all the cool geeky elements of the professional time management packages that cost a fortune, created a load of custom forms and made pdfs for folks to grab and download and create their own custom made productivity system. Now others are joining in on the site and creating all manner of custom made forms for us to download, print, and gloat about if we ever run into the CEO of Filofax.

Building

There are loads of templates to choose from, and while many of them weren’t designed for the planner size I’ve chosen (A4 – more on that later) they printed OK with the ‘scale to fit page’ option in Adobe Reader.

After a quick glance through the options available, I settled on the following:

  • Day Keeper – useful for at home and at work.
  • Yearly 2005-2005 planner page – particularly useful for me when calculating annual leave entitlement.
  • Monthly Planning – living from paycheque to paycheque as usual!
  • Journal – for general notes.
  • Crossroads – in memory of the legendary ITV soap… or a way of figuring out how to achieve my goals.
  • Story Idea – intended for proper writers, but possibly useful for planning articles.

I also added blank paper of various kinds including colourful sugar paper, and a ‘scrapbook’ section which currently contains a signed picture of Metallica (all’s I’m saying is that my day goes better if I’m not far away from a picture of Kirk Hammett, okay?), a cartoon of The Beatles and some of my guitar drawings. It’s going to be an area of pics that gladden the heart and put a smile on my face, which is often useful when in the office… and I’ll add pictures of the cats, and yes, my very own man (very seldon seen) with guitar soon.

Problems

I’d bought a lovely slim binder for all of this, only to discover I couldn’t turn the pages through the small rings! Fortunately I had an old 2-ring A4 binder lurking behind the sofa. It’s a bit flimsier than the 4-ring binder but a bit of elastic trickery soon sorted that – a rubber band, some PVA glue and some masking tape soon added a bit of moleskine-style security to my new planner.

Will I be able to live with it?

Well, here’s the thing I’ve discovered with all of these systems, there are pros and cons to all of them. I’m sacrificing portability in favour of having something I can stretch out and really scribble away in. Hipster PDAs and PigPog PDAs are great but don’t give you much option for scribbling like a demon. An A4 planner might be a pain in the arse to carry around, but I stand a better chance of getting thoughts, ideas, observations and scribbles down on paper this size than I do with anything smaller.

Super Size Me!

I’m going to do a Morgan Spurlock and try living and working with my new A4 D(plink)I(plank)Y(plonk) planner for 30 days. If my liver turns to pate I’ll be sure to let you know.