I’ve spent the past few days away from computers. While normally such a lapse in my lifestyle would leave me quaking like a twinkie junkie facing sugar withdrawal, I was more than occupied by all the family gatherings, ceremony and stress surrounding the baptism of my 13-month-old son, Conor. Somewhere in the course of events, I also came to a decision: I need to create an identity for “my other baby” too, one that will allow it to grow more freely.
The D*I*Y Planner, when I first released it, was fairly small, rather amateurish, and had no discernible future. It was simply a small pile of forms I believed I might never use again, and so I was releasing it into the wilderness to find its own way. I never would have believed that it and the subsequent –and hopefully more professional– packages would be downloaded well over 300,000 times (about 400,000, if you count the various loose forms and diagrams intended as add-ons), and that the blog would jump from two readers daily to a number that I still find intimidating. Like the proverbial tiger kitten raised in a New York apartment, it’s a beast that has now outgrown its master.
Let me explain….
Each week, I get over a hundred comments or emails about the ‘Planner and the various kits. Many are notes of thanks (which are very much appreciated, and keep me forging onwards), a few are questions that have probably been answered in the packages’ FAQs, some are general productivity-related questions, a half-dozen are clearly intended as flames or provocation (often of the “paper is for luzers” variety), a handful are wonderful suggestions (of which I cannot do without), and at least four or five include templates created by people who are eager for my feedback. While I try to answer all these emails, I’m also trying to find time to work on the version 3.0, Creativity and Education packages, juggle family commitments, and seek a permanent and stable job (not very easy in my neck of the woods). Now, this isn’t a complaint by any stretch of the imagination: I love the D*I*Y Planner work I’ve been doing, I enjoy hearing from so many imaginative and devoted users of the kits, and I see only a bright future for the project. The question I’ve been mulling these past few days, though, is this: “What’s next?”
In a way, I feel like I’ve been hoarding this project to myself for far too long. Not only has this turned a million monkeys typing into an almost obsessive productivity blog (which is far from my original intention), but it seems as though I’ve been suppressing the voices of people who should be free to share their wonderful thoughts, suggestions and templates, but yet have no real –and public– outlet to do so. I’m only one man (backed by a large, albeit fictitious, troup of monkeys) and my perspective and time are thus quite limited, but there’s an opportunity for a community, however small, to grow. And so it is with some degree of trepidation that I’m preparing to cut loose my creation once more.
Here is the current plan:
- A new domain has been registered for D*I*Y Planner, productivity and paper-based planning issues. This will launch soon, depending upon how fast I can get up to speed on the CMS, Drupal (thanks, Eric!). The site is not intended to compete with the hundreds of other productivity sites out there: its focus will be on using mainly paper, while many other sites delve heavily into the digital domain. This will result in a niche audience, to be sure, but one that seems to be frequently overlooked.
- Said domain will be the permanent home of the D*I*Y Planner kits, release notes, handbooks, and so forth. No more redirecting to blog links or specific dates — this should cut down on some confusion and permit bookmarks that don’t change.
- a million monkeys typing will once more become my “own personal blog,” dealing with creative matters, educational issues, and other random musings of a primate — I hope it doesn’t get too lonely around here. Many of the better productivity-related posts of the past will find their way into the new domain.
- Although I’ll continue to write posts fairly frequently on the new site, I’ll also be asking people to write short articles and submit templates for inclusion. There are a lot of creative people out there brimming with great advice, and a few have even designed some really amazing templates that supplement or even replace my own. (Yes, the creation and release of a template DIY kit is still on my to-do list for the near future.)
- The new site will also contain forums covering such matters as template design, printing issues, ideal setups, “crossing the paper/digital divide”, productivity advice surrounding paper-based GTD/Covey/other methods, and so on. A wiki is also on the drawing board. Everything is feed-ready so you can easily follow along in your BlogLines, feed readers or new-fangled browsers, if you’re into that sort of thing.
- The development of D*I*Y Planner packages will continue as normal, and will always be free for download and individual use. (The speed of said development will depend upon what I’m currently doing for a living.)
Will this work? I don’t know, exactly, but I’m willing to give it a shot. If I can direct even a quarter of the ideas and enthusiam that reaches me privately into the more public forum, it’ll be an exciting ride.
In the meantime, if you’d like to share your templates or a proposal for an article, don’t be shy: please get in touch with me (my email address is at the bottom of the menu at right). There’s no money involved, just fame, glory, a link to your site, and the warm glow you get from helping others. Oh, and the undying adoration of thousands of paper-based-planning groupies….