On the Road to Pre-Printed Emergent Task Planner Sheets

Emergent Task Planner Prototype Last week I promised myself that I would get off my ass and get a version of the Emergent Task Planner ready to price out at a printer. I’ve actually ended up with a new design.

The Emergent Task Planner is, based on the number of links it seems to get, one of the more popular Printable CEO™ forms, so this seems like a good design to create a physical product from. The goal is to look into producing and selling nicely-printed ETP pads, to see if people find the cost and convenience worth paying for. Because this is a product test, I won’t be making this specific version of the Emergent Task Planner available for PDF download right away; it’s going to be tweaked for whatever press process I end up using anyway. Don’t worry, though! There will always be versions available for download.

The purpose of this post is to get a bit of feedback from the public on the new design. I’ve already incorporated some feedback into this layout, but there are also a few new things that are worth going over. If you’re not familiar with the Emergent Task Planner, the 2007 Updates post will give you some background.


Daily Notebook For the past couple months I’ve been going to a coffee shop every day to do my daily planning. I brought a notebook with me to scribble in, and I found myself naturally working with the Emergent Task Planner layout.

Interestingly, I tended to draw the ETP in order of my thinking: first, I’d fill out the date, then I’d enter the list of things I needed to do. Finally, I’d draw a simple schedule on the right hand side. Notes I would scribble on whatever space was leftover. Because of this, I decided to swap the left and right sides; the major tasks + note area is now on the left.

I also got rid of the “hours” summary box because I needed the space lost from making room for three ring binder holes on the left-hand side of the paper. Personally, I never used it; it was a feature I introduced because one person requested it and I haven’t heard back whether it was that useful or not.

New Emergent Task Planner Layout Because this design will be printed on a real press, I am starting to introduce color sparingly into the design. Because I’m using small colored type, I have to be careful about the number of colors I use in the design so the screen frequency doesn’t cause the letters to break up and look terrible. It’s been over 10 years since I’ve had to have anything printed on anything, and we certainly didn’t have the cool high-resolution digital presses that are available now, so I’m looking forward to finding out what’s possible.

New Emergent Task Planner Details I’ve kept the idea of using 3 or 4 plates in the back of my mind, and they’ll might be custom rather than process color. For example, I’d like to use a base gray plate instead of pure black; this will give me better solid grays. Then I might use a green plate and use tints for that. The question is really whether I should drop the blue plate, or change the orange time boxes for a variation of blue-green. Or, it may be that with a high-enough resolution, process color will be able to deliver the quality I want and will be cheaper. Sticking with one or two colors would be cheaper still, but that isn’t very sexy.

ADDITION 5/13: The reason I’m thinking process color is because this opens up the use of more interesting imagery!


It was suggested to me that I look into producing tear-off pads with the glue at the top for shipping reasons; you apparently can qualify for media-rate shipping that way. I haven’t had much feedback at all from real users about the Emergent Task Planner, so this is your chance to let me know:

  1. If you’re interested in some swanky pre-printed pads at all, and…
  2. How you archive your sheets (binders? envelopes?)

These sheets should work well in 3-ring binders and for those of you with Circa/Rollabind punches. I’m also open to suggestions for alternative form factors; I will get around to making an A4 version if I figure out European fulfillment.

Any feedback at all will be appreciated. Thanks!


Now that I have this design waiting in the wings, I have to turn my attention to this website to make it easier to navigate. The navigation here has been horrible for a long time, making it difficult for people to find things like the forms, what I do, and interesting content. So I have to do something about this quickly.

I also need to make a second writeup for the Emergent Task Planner, and provide some more succinct instructions for use. This would be a nice pamphlet to include in a shipping product; black and white will work fine for that to keep costs low.