Update on Pre-Printed Emergent Task Planner Pads

Update on Pre-Printed Emergent Task Planner Pads

Emergent Task Planner Prototype Last week, though, I got price quotes for the commercial printing of the Emergent Task Planner, so we’re one step closer to actually realizing an actual product!

The quick synopsis: The Emergent Task Planner is a daily planning form that uses some simple premises to add productive structure to the day:

  • Focuses on tracking just a few tasks a day.
  • Provides a scheduling grid to block out time, to give shape to the day.
  • Provides space to note all that stuff that “just happens” throughout the day.

While there are free versions you can download (and these aren’t going anywhere in the foreseeable future), this special printed version is my first foray into making and shipping a real product. I’m thinking it will be a good education in basic commerce, and with luck I’ll be able to use the proceeds to fund development of the software products (electronic time tracking tools) by actually hiring freelancers. The experience will also give me something to write about on the blog. :-)


Here’s the current design of the Emergent Task Planner that we’re considering taking to print, which incorporates the feedback from previous posts.

Emergent Task Planner Draft 3 Here’s the current specifications:

  • US Letter (8.5″ x 11″) on a pad, no backing (for cost), glued on the top for “tear off style”. I actually have already designed an A4 version, so it’s ready to go once we figure out international fulfillment.
  • No pre-punched holes, but there is space on the left of the form to allow for hole punching.
  • Heavy Paper: I have to review paper samples, but we are looking to use durable paper stock that will hold up over the day while not being too thick. I think right now we’re looking at a stack of 75 sheets being about half an inch.
  • 75 Sheets per Pad: This seems like a decent number, and allows us to ship a pack of 5 pads to cover a year.
  • 4 color printing: I am pushing for custom inks, but this adds to setup cost. With custom inks we’ll get better tonal quality that I suppose people may not notice. It would be cheaper to go with 4-color process, but I’ll have to see the proofs and maybe adjust my colors for optimum screening (and hence tone) reproduction.

There are various tweaks we can make to the form—for example, whether to retain the year marker in the corner, or perhaps create “shells” and then run dates as a separate pass—but I think this is pretty close to what we’ll have. We will adjust the product line as demand dictates, assuming we don’t lose our shirts first :-)


Our initial cost calculations put each 75-sheet pad US$12.00 This works out to about 16 cents a sheet, which is a few cents more for ink and consumables cost for printing at home on an inexpensive color printer. For the extra cents, you’ll get thicker paper, full waterproof color ink in convenient “glue-top” pads. To cover the remainder of the year, you’ll need about 3 pads, which works out to US$36.00. Shipping will be extra, but a friendly reader told me that because we’re printing bound material, we can qualify for media mailing rates. I need to look into it further.


I really have no idea if this will work or not, but even if we don’t sell enough pads to make this an actual product, the educational experience alone will be totally worth it. Of course, I hope this takes off, because this means that I may be able to spend more time designing real productivity products you can hold in your hand!

But first…we need to get a 100 pad minimum order before we can go to press. I’m not sure how long it will take to get there, so please be patient. You can monitor the progress in the comment section here and count along with me :-)


To keep our risks low, I’m going to actually do a pre-order here so we can estimate the number of pads we will print. This will allow us to determine whether we have enough orders to make offset printing cost effective, ensure that we have a sufficient margin to save some money for a next round of product development. To make it worthwhile, we need to print at least 7500 sheets—that’s 100 pads of 75.

Rather than spend a lot of time learning to set up an e-commerce site, I’m going to take names via comments below here. Signing up now doesn’t obligate you to purchase anything; however, you will be contacted by me when we have final pricing available.

We’ll be using this data to estimate demand. Once we have enough orders for 100 pads, we’ll push through to the next phase. Your email address will not be sold or used for any purpose other than this specific order.


  • Valid email address – you will get a confirmation email from me to confirm that I’ve gotten your order. You should see a text field where you can enter your email address; don’t put it in the actual comment.
  • Number of pads to order – each pad has 75 sheets, estimated cost is about US$12 per pad. If you want to last to the end of the year, that’s 3 pads with some extras.
  • Country / Statedon’t use your full mailing address in your comment (this is the Internet, after all).

Feel free to add any other thoughts or topics of discussion; I’ll take them under advisement. While I’d like to accommodate everyone’s personal desires, this kind of personalization is expensive so I’m trying to keep this as simple as possible.

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