Do-It-Yourself Planner v1.0

In need of a last-minute gift? Need something to do between turkey dinners? Or how about a massive attempt at self-organisation for the New Year?

Just in time for the holidays, I’m pleased to announce version 1.0 of my Do-It-Yourself Planner system. Almost every template has been revised somewhat from the beta versions, a new graphical look and feel is taking shape, there’s a new “To Buy” form, the instructions are now fleshed out, and there’s plenty of room for customising the package to your individual tastes and circumstances. So much so, that I’m officially removing the “GTD” from its name. While the emphasis remains on David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodologies, I’m trying not to limit users in any way.

Version 1.0 of the DIY Planner package includes a dozen pages of information (in HTML) on how to buy a 5.5″x8.5″ planner, save a bundle on templates/forms, find accessories, set up your organiser GTD-style, and more. The included 28-page PDF file contains a number of double-sided templates including:

  • GTD Diagrams (resized and rotated from originals found at — see the HTML file for exact links)
  • Next Actions
  • Waiting For
  • Agendas
  • Project Outline (new layout)
  • Objectives
  • Contact Log
  • Someday/Maybe
  • To Do List
  • Notes
  • Covey Quadrant
  • Brainstorm
  • Story Idea
  • To Buy (new)

Be sure to read the instructions, as they give plenty of information on how to print, cut, punch and use the templates. A minimum of office supplies are needed (primarily a 3-hole punch and a guillotine), but you can purchase them at most department stores for about $25 USD if you don’t already have them.

Both the templates and the instruction file are licensed under Creative Commons, and are therefore free for personal and non-commercial use. The latest version of the package can always be found here.

(For those people who asked about non-letter-size versions of the templates, I’ll see what I can do in the New Year, unless some brave Illustrator-slinging volunteer wants to step forward.)

If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, complaints or ideas for new templates, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below or send me an email (my address can be found in this page’s menu at bottom right).

Hope this is a nice little holiday DIY project for some of you organisational junkies. But I take no responsibility if you cut or hole-punch yourself….

Update: For those people mentioning that the templates don’t line up right, just make sure the Page Scaling in your Adobe Acrobat print dialog is not set to “Fit to paper” (which is the default, I think). They should print fine on most printers anyway, and setting any scale besides “None” will result in templates printing several millimeters off.

Update 2: Version 2.0 of the D*I*Y Planner has been released.

29 Replies to “Do-It-Yourself Planner v1.0”

  1. This looks great; I’ve been looking for this kind of thing for household projects. One request, though: Do you mind releasing the original Illustrator file, as well as the PDF? There are some sections I don’t need, and would like to create my own PDF without them.

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  3. Very good! I also would like a copy that can be edited – I want to add a few pages but mostly want to switch it to A4 from letter. Is that possible please?

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  5. Allen, one of the things about the PDF is that you only basically print off those pages you need, when you need them (and then print the opposite sides, unless you have a duplex printer). As for the Illustrator files, they are only part of the puzzle; the rest is done in InDesign because AI lacks any decent way to make multi-page PDF files. There is no easy way to edit things without plodding through both of them.

    As for Andrew’s request for A4, I’m looking at creating a version for non-letter-sizes, including A4 and A5, but I need to learn a bit more about the sizings first.

    And lastly, as for sending out the Illustrator files, I’ve decided not to keep doing this, for several reasons. First and foremost, because of the Creative Commons license and the whole thing about derivative works, I have to be careful about diluting and signing off permissions. (What happens if someone makes a minor modification and decides they want to create a commercial package, for example?) Second, if anyone wants to volunteer to help convert these templates to other paper sizes for release, I’d like to work with them, again so the license stays intact, but also because it allows me to perform quality control over them. Third, I ran into… uh, “problems” with a few people I sent the AI beta files too. One even wanted to have several of them printed by a promotional organisation for their give-away kits, complete with its logo and some very minor changes, and I still have a bit of a sour taste about the unpleasant words that were exchanged.

    I’m truly sorry about this new policy. However, if you folks do have suggestions for other templates, I’d be interested in hearing any ideas for ones you’d like to see done.

  6. I’m truly sorry about this new policy.

    No problem. What you say makes sense (and its unfortunate that you had problems before). I was just looking for a way to be a little lazier. πŸ™‚

  7. This is a great package. As it makes its way around the world a lot of people will achieve more because of it–thanks to your imagination and initiative in putting it together.

    BTW: Costco stores in the US (and at are selling a classic-sized Franklin-Covey leather 7-ring planner (zip closure) with 2005 calendar inserts (2pp per day) for US $40. This is a low price compared to standard retail.

    The quality of the binder is first rate. I picked
    one up and am replacing most of the FC internals with some of your DIY forms, because what I need most are pages for notes and projects. The structured flexibility of your approach really works for me.

  8. In the HTML instructions (diy_planner.html), under “Tips” it says, “You wouldn’t want to leave home without your brain, would you?” … Actually that did happen to “someone I know” once. It was a funny storry, but I digress …

  9. Thank you for your generosity in releasing these templates for us. I am a big tablet PC user and have printed them out using MIcorosoft Image Writer. Now I can fill in the forms using ink on my tablet PC maintaining a paper”lite” organizational system. Thanks again and have a great holiday

  10. Do you have any of these templates in 8-1/2 x 11? I like them a lot, but am considering a switch to the larger size. Take care.

  11. Doug:

    Following up on Don’s excellent Tablet PC suggestion I have done the same thing in GoBinder using its print-to-image function and can now use your most excellent templates in that Tablet PC-friendly application as well.

    You’ve done a terrific job on these templates and have given a very nice gift to the GTD community by releasing them under a Creative Commons license. Thanks so much!

  12. Marc and Don–These templates would make fantastic OneNote stationary. How did you resize the pages to fit the GoBinder window?

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  14. The planner is great, but I did have one question. How did you create the PDF file with the rotations to work for a duplex printer and 2-up printing? This has been vexing for a while as I’d like to print 5-10 page 2-up word documents to a Classic sized planner and was thinking a PDF file could do it for me some how.

  15. Ted, the original templates were created in Illustrator, each front or back being a separate layer. When it came time to produce the PDF booklet, I hid all but each pertinent layer, copied that page, and pasted it into InDesign, where I rotated and moved as necessary. From there I made a PDF including all 26 pages. (I’m still cursing at Adobe for not allowing AI to produce multiple pages, like CorelDraw.) In short, it was a bit of a convoluted process.

    That being said, I’m looking recently at the Open Source application Scribus, and it seems to have potential for the templates’ further development.

    As for using Windows and Word to produce such a beast with 2-up duplex printing, I wouldn’t have the first clue. Did you investigate Adobe Acrobat’s print dialogue for the “multiple page” and range options? Or perhaps someone reading this would be able to tell you more?

  16. I would love to see these in 5.5 x 8.5 format. I have lots of pre-punched blank pages that size, and would love to be able to print the templates out directly onto that paper without cutting and punching.

  17. I just stumbled across a link to your excellent templates from Merlin Mann’s site. Nice work! I’m looking forward to getting these printed out and in use. πŸ™‚

  18. This is very good. Thanks. For those mac users, this works particular well with CocoaBooklet (donationware) to print mini-booklets that can fit in your pocket. Check or and set your printer to 0 margins if possible.

  19. I have made a number of forms for my own use. I recommend a table form for store opening hours. Space for store name & tel number in collums along the top and days of the week in the rows at the side. Fill in the hours for the places you visit. You can then check if the supermarket; library or gym is open simply before setting out & call to check if the drycleaning is ready or Blockbusters has the DVD you were after. It’s simple but makes out of home or office errands and activities run very smoothly.

  20. Doug,

    Good to see that your excellent efforts are still getting praise a number of weeks on from your original posting – that’s great and well deserved.

    Have you had any joy with an A5 and A4 version?


  21. Andrew, version 2.0 is coming along well, and will be released in a month or so. It’ll be released in 5.5×8.5 format first, then A5. The letter-size and A4 size may have to wait a bit, depending on my schedule and if there are any volunteers to help produce them.

  22. People needing printable calendars for these might look at — they’ve got monthly and yearly PDF calendars in 8.5″x11.5″ and 11×17 sizes, but more importantly, they have a dynamic calendar generators that let you specify arbitrary dimensions. It’s all URL hackery at the moment — there’s no forms — but as an example,×5.5_en_0_.pdf is a monthly calendar from February-December 2005, on 5.5×8.5 paper in landscape mode.

    (The graph paper generators there might be useful as well, for note pages and such.)

  23. Thank you for your generosity in making these templates available at no charge. I began reading the post and fully expected to see a price attached — you made my Monday. πŸ™‚ Now, back to “getting things done”.

  24. Let me add my thanks to the growing pile. I really had to dig (well, two Yahoo searches – your site was #10) for a non-PDA, non-PC-based, non-MAC-based solution. I’m fairly high tech but if I have to turn on my MAC/PC or carry a PDA everywhere (I sat on my last one – RIP), then organization will not happen. Also, a lot of my to-do lists come from print sources (e.g., magazines, catalogs, invoices) and it’s much more efficient to file the source with the to-do list than to scan it (;-))

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