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What is a good planner?

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  • What is a good planner?

    On a recent In Conversation (Not sure which one). I heard Dave mention that he worked for Time Design at one time.

    Dave, just wondering if you still use a Time Design planner, or are you using something else now. I really need something to help me organize my day on paper.

  • #2

    I'm a huge Time/Design fan and very biased on this tool.

    It's one of the most "open" and least structured paper planners and naturally fits the GTD process. To me a calendar is a calendar but the unique Time/Design quality is the ability to easily organize and review my runway lists of next actions by context (see their Activities Checklist form) as well as all the other GTD lists (Projects & S/M in Activities section and other lists in DataBank).

    I love using technology and gadgets but my tool set at work get in the way of creating a single, complete GTD system (long story). Instead of a segmented digital system, for now, I've chosen a single integrated system using Time/Design.

    Part of my bias comes from receiving a Time/Design (then Time/File) kit while attending one of David's seminars back in 1991 (MAP - Managing Actions & Projects). It works for me and I feel most drawn to it.

    It's not the cheapest option but I see value there.

    There is a REALLY strange satisfaction from marking things off with a yellow highlighter. Sounds very strange ... almost as as strange as getting a labeler.

    Last edited by Mark Jantzen; 10-11-2007, 01:24 PM. Reason: Wrong year


    • #3
      I found some very solid and unique features in the T/D. Some my thoughts:
      • Their binders are beautiful, but you can get away with much less expensive ring binders
      • They have some neat forms. I used the folding action sheets for a while, which are compact, and fold out and interleave so you can see actions and projects (and the calendar, IIRC) at the same time. A kind of GTD control center. They sell "Classic" size forms now, not just A4.
      • I *love* the fold-out yearly planner, and the perpetual calendar. The latter acts like a kind of tickler for events that recur annually. The former is a year-at-a-glance oriented vertically, and it's neat.
      • They have a great solution to thick binders: First, you carry around only enough pages to let you see details as far out as you care about. For example, I use the week-on-two-pages calendar pages, and I have about 3 months loaded at one time. When a month finishes, I move the oldest pages to archive, get pages for a new month, and fill them out from the yearly and perpetual calendars.
      • I *love* the reverse highlighting referred to below. The idea of emphasizing accomplishments is great psychology.
      • I like their matrix form as well. I use it to track health, exercise, reading, etc. Great for checklists, in other words.
      • I completely loved the idea of using pencil in the calendar. Of course!

      You can read more here, FYI: Some thoughts from attending Time/Design's trainer certification

      Hope that helps!


      • #4
        To address a question in the original post: It is my understanding that DA uses a Palm digital organizer rather than a paper planner.

        There are many good commercial paper planners available, obviously. I used the Franklin Day Planner system for years, but it just seemed to generate a mountain of archival paper and drain my wallet each year. I have found that I can put a planner together myself that costs almost nothing and is perfectly tailored to my needs. All I need is a 3-ring binder with some dividers and a 3-hole punch. I print the calendar pages out from the Google Calendar service with recurring events pre-loaded. You can print them monthly or weekly or daily as far into the future as you want.

        All the other pages are just lists in one form or another. I don't need a form to make a list. But many people who like forms get them (and calendars) from

        I find this method more convenient and flexible than using a commercial planner.


        • #5
          I have also understood that DA uses a pda.
          However the time-design is very good paper system, if you have an employer that pay for it. More important than selecting a particular paper system, is to develope the habits to use with the gtd system.


          • #6
            Me and Time/Design

            Short answer - nope, don't use Time/Design. Haven't since I began using my own printouts from early PC PIMs, then Palm after it was debugged somewhat, now the Treo, synching to Lotus Notes (in terms of action lists).

            Some of you probably remember from a public post many moons ago, as I gave my history with Time/Design. When I worked for Insight Seminars, developing its division focused on business versions (1983-ish), we discovered TimeSystem in Europe, got it translated into English (it was only in Danish and German at the time), and acquired the rights to distribute it in the U.S. The name had to be changed to Time/Design for the U.S. market, because there already was a Time System company in the U.S. For many years I worked closely with T/D as a tool, as there weren't really any good personal planners, and its design, though paper-based, was far better than anything else around. Another company bought the rights to T/D in the 90's; and I was happy to go "tool-agnostic" as there were many other tools showing up, and I couldn't in all honesty say that a paper-based one was the best thing for everyone. (The folks who acquired T/D actually took the training design I had developed and incorporated a whole bunch of it into their "corporate training" they used to sell books... that's why some people have run across their seminar stuff and wondered howcum it looks similar to mine. Hmmm.... I wonder.)

            Anyway, Time/Design still has the best-designed materials in the paper-planner world (we helped them with some of their key features, back in the 80's, like a folding page for action lists that you don't have to re-write!); their graphic look and feel is still superb.