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.

If you prefer to send private email, use the Email Contact Form instead.


  1. Randell 17 years ago

    Hey Dave – I think that this is great!  I constantly struggle with maintaining a system for keeping up with day to day activities.  I have to run the day to day operations of a heating and air conditioning here in Georgia so in the summertime I find it impossible to maintain a reasonable stress level and not make too many people mad with my own forgetfulness.  Since I am dreadful at not resorting to scratches of paper for the final system I will order one pad when they become available.  If I don’t screw it up completely and go back to my own crap way of doing things, I will order for a full year.  You’re very encouraging!
    Georgia, USA


  2. ted serbinski 17 years ago

    Hey Dave, this totally rocks! I’ve tried printing my own, and using the Flash one, but I just don’t think that is good as an actual properly printed, bound pad with an year’s+ supply. I think this is going to make me much more productive and I’m super stoked about this!

    Put me down for 3 pads for now… I’m in VA, United States.  Rock!!

  3. Dan 17 years ago

    David, very cool! I look forward to reading about the production process. My only suggestion at this point is to leave off the year in the printing. For instance, if I use one sheet a day M-F, I’m using 5 a week, and the pad of 75 will last me 15 weeks—almost 4 months (unless I’m missing something about how to use them?). So, if I bought a couple of pads, more than likely, I’m not going to use all the sheets between now and 2008. I would prefer the flexibility of filling in the year myself.

    One question: will the back be blank?

  4. Marina 17 years ago

    Put me down for two pads, Dave! I’m excited to support your first foray into the print world :)

    USA / Utah

  5. Mark 17 years ago

    Dave: next time we get together, I’ll bring my stack of filled-out ETTs to show you how I’ve been using them. As they’re the best timesheets I’ve found, I’d love to see those in a portable journal format that would last a month, quarter, or year, and that I could carry with me to track both time and expenses.

  6. Daniel Nicolas 17 years ago

    Awesome! I’ve been waiting for this post to show up in Google Reader for a while but it’s worth it.

    Put me down for 3 pads.

    USA / California

  7. Joshua Marshall 17 years ago

    These are sounding awesome, Dave. Consider me signed up for 3 pads.

    Raleigh, NC.


  8. Jake Dahn 17 years ago

    Very cool!

    You can put me down for just 1 order.

    USA / Minnesota

  9. Bill Peschel 17 years ago

    Are you taking PayPal for this? (I assume you are, but you know the line about assumptions….)

  10. Jake Ingman 17 years ago

    I plan to buy – but before I put down some cash, I was wondering if you could address something (and forgive me if you’ve addressed this elsewhere already).

    Why do you put the year on these puppies?  Since you’re already letting people fill out 2/3 of the date information (month and day), would it really be so tough for us to just fill in the year too?

    Including the year isn’t so big a deal when it’s just a download, because hey, when the year flips I can just hit you up for the new download, but it’s different with a product like this.  I’m going to shell out some hard-earned cash for this stack of 75, and I’m going to be a little miffed if I have 30 left at the end of the year with a big “2007” hard coded to the top.

    It does look nice, but I’m not sure that “niceness” is worth giving these sheets an expiration date.

    Your thoughts? Reader thoughts??  Let’s hash it out!  And keep up the good work Dave :D

  11. Dave Seah 17 years ago

    Cool! Off to a rolling start!

    Jake: The year thing is something I’ve still been wondering about. I think it does ADD something, but you’re right it has a built-in expiration date. The reasoning behind it on the regular forms is that it looks cool and it forces people to come back and check at least once a year for updates if they really care about the aesthetics. But on a printed physical form it does make less sense. On the other hand, there is something nice about having “official” year forms.

    I’m not sure how big an issue this is for people. Perhaps I should come up with some way of recycling unused sheets; it does seem wasteful. One approach might be to use “shells” that have a blank area for the year, and then we can run a second pass for the printed year…but this creates expense and hassle. Or we can provide the blank area to write in, but it just isn’t as cool, and you have to do it every day. Or instead of a year, we use a SYMBOL or something.  Or we allow people to run them through a printer and print the year, but now we’re back to hasslin’ with printing. Maybe YEAR STICKERS are the answer!!! :-D

    Eventually, the ideal approach would be to have pre-printed days for every day of the year, but that requires (I think) a much larger and complex print run. Franklin Covey can afford that, I probably can’t (but I’ll ask anyway)

  12. Dave Seah 17 years ago

    Bill: I haven’t worked out payment methods yet, but it will likely be based on something like Paypal.

  13. Lisa 17 years ago

    Hey Dave, nice job! I’ve been using your PCEO series for about the last month or so. It’s helped me organize and track everything I have left to do to complete my PhD dissertation. Now I’m actually getting things done and a little closer to completion! YAY!  Keep up the good work.

    That being said, I’ll definitely order at least one, maybe two.

    One question, do you have this new version of the form in PDF format?  I’ve been downloading/printing the other 2007 version, but I like the time-boxes on the right better!  I’m excited to see it in print!

    USA, California

  14. matt mcknight 17 years ago

    In for 3. I’d like to give them a shot in the Levenger Circa notebook, if the paper is heavy enough, and it sounds like it will be.

    You should try to sell your stuff to them (Levenger). They are a bit monochrome: http://tinyurl.com/2t4j22


  15. Kat 17 years ago

    I love these – I just keep forgetting to print out a new one for myself. :)
    Your timing is impeccable.
    Sign me up for 1 pad – at least. Raleigh, NC

  16. Daniel Miller 17 years ago

    Put me down for 1.

    I just found this ecomm site yesterday that looks pretty good: http://shopify.com/ Might not be worth it yet for one product, but thought I would mention it as you are still figuring out the ecomm piece of this.

  17. Sarah Deutsch 17 years ago

    These look great – I’m going to try them out in my Circa notebooks too…  Put me down for one to start out, but I’ll probably come back for more!  =)

    USA / California

  18. Robert France 17 years ago

    Hi Dave,

    Congratulations for getting this far.

    Please take the year marking off. 1 blank field for the date is sufficient. No stickers, no extra printing, just allow us to write the date. We are already writing lots on these sheets, why not the date also.

    Put me down for 6 (my wife has also started using them), either version A4 or US. Preferably A4 but only if it’s viable to you.

    As for your e-commerce requirements, a robust system can be put in place quickly (1 or 2 days) based on the open source CMS Joomla! with Virtuemart on your own server @ $0. After all you have only 1 product, one of my clients is happy selling 15,000+ for the past 2 years based on this setup.

    Postage for the pads would be to Luxembourg, Europe.

    Looking forward to hearing more about this exciting endeavour.


  19. Eric 17 years ago

    This is great I love the Emergent Task Planner!

    I usually print my own but I want to support your work so put me down for 2.

    Gilbert, AZ

    Thanks David

  20. Robert France 17 years ago

    Hi Again Dave,

    After thinking about this, A CMS and an e-commerce package would be overkill for you.

    A correctly configured Paypal “Buy now” button is all you need, ok you are limited to Paypal, but they have a big share of the user market. It’s secure and requires minimal effort on your part.


  21. Jon 17 years ago

    Hi Dave,

    Put me down for one pad!

    Best wishes,

    Jon :-)

  22. Paul Freeman 17 years ago

    Hi Dave,

    I’d pick up 3 pads as long as the international shipping costs weren’t to high.

    Country: UK

  23. Russ Hay 17 years ago

    Put me down for a pad – once you get A4 available.

    Shipping to the UK!

    Good Luck..

  24. Jed Christiansen 17 years ago

    Hi, Dave.  Thanks for the update on progress.  You can put me down for one pad, shipping to CT.  (I’m actually based in London, UK, but my family in CT will get it to me.  Once you’ve sorted out the A4/International versions count me down for those!)


  25. Elliot Murphy 17 years ago

    I’d like to buy a couple of these. Great work!

  26. Mike Hickerson 17 years ago

    Count me in for one!
    Kentucky, USA

  27. Katrina 17 years ago

    Great!  Put me down for 3 pads.

    Washington, DC

  28. Lucy 17 years ago

    I’m in Mexico and I would like at least one pad but probably the three needed for the rest of the year, depending on shipping costs.

    I’m a professional translator, if you’re interested in having Spanish versions of your Planners, I would love to help!

  29. Bill Peschel 17 years ago

    Thanks, Dave. I need to get some cash in the PP account, so I won’t order until I’m sure I have it in hand. (It’s a personal fault at work here; promising and not delivering).

    As for the year thing, I love seeing it printed up there. A mystery writer named Joe Konrath made an interesting observation. He uses the highest quality paper available and prints everything out on it, even drafts of his novels.

    His contention is that we receive signals about ourselves and our attitudes towards our work from the things we surround ourselves with. You work in a dumpy office, you turn out dumpy work (or, unless you have awesome discipline and talent, you tend to). If you value your work, show it. Print it on great paper, and it will look better, rather than the kreppy stuff (or worse, on the backs of recycled paper).

    So even though I’ve been mashing up your free stuff, I’d much rather have the colorful, well-printed pads. But not until I get cash in hand.

  30. Jim 17 years ago


    Sign me up for two pads.  I’m buying some cool pen-like number 2 pencils to celebrate!

    I wish you luck in the printing process!


  31. Jim 17 years ago

    forgot my state.. doh..

    Illinois, USA

  32. matt mcknight 17 years ago

    another thought on the preprinted year thing…could it be a subtle incentive to keep using it? (as you don’t want them to “go to waste” when the year runs out)

  33. pbatra 17 years ago

    Hi Dave.  One pad to start please.  Massachusetts.  Looking forward to it.

  34. Vince 17 years ago

    I’d be interested in 3 pads.  I’m in Massachusetts.


  35. Lynn O'Connor 17 years ago

    I’m in for a years supply also. The date thing might be a problem since its already heading into the end of July, but you’ll figure out what to do about that. I have been using these for a long time now, as part of my GTD system. I skip a day here and there when I’m not doing much, but most of the time they are bedrock of my first successful effort at planning beyond my hard edged appointment time slots. I am so happy these are finally happening. I will, like others, put them into my “Next Action” Circa book daily (I have a section of the book for “forms” and I keep printing out more to keep well stocked with them, Go Dave, as said I’m in for a year’s supply. I’m in California.

  36. mickey julien 17 years ago

    Hello Dave,

    I would like to order 1 pad.


  37. Ian Muir 17 years ago

    I would like to Order a pad. I will see if Kelley wants one too.

    I’m pretty sure you know where I live.

  38. Valery 17 years ago

    I would order 3 to get me through the year. I love using these, but would prefer to have pre-printed ones (although I will chime in with everyone and say I would prefer to have no year on them).

    I’m in New York, USA

  39. Bernie Thompson 17 years ago

    Hi Dave,

    Thanks for creating this great paper tool. I’ll take 3 if the year isn’t fixed. 1 if it’s just for 2007.


  40. Richard Faust 17 years ago

    Three pads

    Brazil :-)

  41. Cheryl Allin 17 years ago

    Yippee!  I’m in for 3 pads!
    Lakewood, WA

  42. Dave Seah 17 years ago

    The stats so far:

    number of people requesting: 40 (not including int’l)

    total requesting yearless version: 6

    total “ordered” pads: 87 (not including int’l orders, need at least 100 for the run)

    Int’l Orders: 6 (will look into pricing, but may not make the first run)

    A4 Orders: 4 people / 11 pads

  43. Meredith 17 years ago

    Hi Dave,
    They look brilliant, put me down for 2.


  44. Me for 1 if 2007 is written, and 3 if year is blank.  Thanks!  So glad to see these going into print!!!  CT.

  45. Ejaz Asi 17 years ago

    Hey Dave, finally a print version. Wow.
    Please put me down for 1 for 2007 and 1 blank.


  46. Cheryl Allin 17 years ago

    Heck with it – I’ll send them to clients as gifts – sign me up for 10 more!

  47. Patricia Alsup 17 years ago

    Sign me up for one pad for now.
    Arcata, CA

  48. Betsy 17 years ago

    Put me down for 3 pads.  Thanks!

    Boston MA

  49. mmm 17 years ago

    I would like to order 1, probably more if blank is available.  I think it would be great if you can offer both versions, with or without year.

    I am in IL.

  50. Mary Whitney 17 years ago

    Oh happy day – I will take two pads to start.  I vote for no year block, for similar reasons as others have suggested.
    Congrats on this project – knew you could do it!

  51. Danny P 17 years ago

    Great!  Put me in for 3.

    This form will pair nicely with my newly acquired Circa punch and Circa/Myndology notebooks.

    There is something about pre-printed, color forms that gives a Productivity Buzz not attainable through the D-I-Y printing/cutting routine.

    Frankly, having the 2007 block there would be nice! (But I understand why you might not.)

    Thanks for not pre-punching them.

    Good Luck with this!

  52. Al Briggs 17 years ago

    Put me down for 1 pad presuming the postage costs are not too high!

    uk based!

  53. Bob O'Malley 17 years ago

    Big fan of your forms.  Been using them for about a year now.  Put me down for 1-2 pads if the year is pre-printed, and 3-5 if it’s not.  I agree that having the year pre-printed does look nice, but I still have a big stack of 2006 forms that I need to get rid of!  :)

    Keep up the inspiring work!

  54. Rob Shields 17 years ago

    Put me down for 3 pads please! (Houston)

  55. Tony Murphy 17 years ago

    First time posting!

    If / when you get international shipping sorted out then I’m in for some A4 versions please. I think I’d prefer the pre-printed year actually (which means you need to be able to print 2007 and 2008 I guess?)

    Shipping would be to the UK.

  56. Chris 17 years ago

    Hey Dave,

    Stick me down for a few, wouldn’t mind ‘07 and ‘08..

    Shipping would be to UK, so would be dependant on costs internationally being reasonable ;)

    ta v.much

  57. Colin Morris 17 years ago

    Awesome, I’ll have 2 pads, A4 version, when you’ve decided to ship to Australia.

    Best of luck.

  58. David D. 17 years ago

    Sign me up for 3 USA, CA
    I’d prefer the yearless version.


  59. Patrick Rhone 17 years ago

    Sign me up for 2 pads


  60. Terrence Randell 17 years ago

    I’m in for 2 pads. NY/USA. I like the combo 2007/2008 version.

  61. Paul Clarkson 17 years ago

    Put me down for 3 pads


  62. gui ambros 17 years ago

    put me on the list for 1 pad.

  63. Mark Lussier 17 years ago

    Count me in for 3 pads

  64. Tracy Smith 17 years ago

    1 Pad to start

  65. stuart 17 years ago

    I’ll buy a few pads too, but I’m all the way in NZ – will you ship there?

  66. Moritz Kröger 17 years ago

    I want to order 1 Pad.

    Thanks you very much. Great idea.

    Germany / Hamburg

  67. Shawn 17 years ago

    I would like one (1) pad please. Thanks.


  68. Brian Ibbott 17 years ago

    Awesome planner page design – so clean and inviting! Count me in for 3 pads!

    Colorado, USA

  69. Bruce 17 years ago

    I would like (1) pad please. Thank you!


  70. Joan 17 years ago

    Yes. Put me down for one. Nashua, NH

  71. Jason hoffman 17 years ago

    4 pads.

    San Francisco CA.

    Just use paypal, its easy.

  72. Samir 17 years ago

    I will start with 2 pads. Medford, MA

  73. Rebecca 17 years ago

    This looks groovy!

    Put me down for 1 pad, please.

    Thetford Center, VT

  74. Ken Pina 17 years ago

    Hey Dave…though I tried this form before and didn’t really stick with it, you can me put down for one pad.

    Two reasons…

    <li>I like ‘em anyway. I like their analog nature in such a digital world.</li>
    <li>I’d like to support your endeavors :)</li>

    Maybe they’ll stick this time.

    California, USA

  75. rajeevk 17 years ago

    5 pads!
    Dubai, UAE.


  76. wayne rogers 17 years ago

    I would love three pads, preferably yearless.

    Thanks for sharing your work!

  77. wayne rogers 17 years ago

    yikes, forgot my location!

    I am in Memphis, TN

  78. joshtogo 17 years ago

    I’m in Virginia, and am game for at least 2 pads.

  79. Lach 17 years ago

    Hey Dave, how about 3.

    Bellingham, WA USA

  80. Steve 17 years ago

    Hi Dave,

    I’d be very interested in buying 3 pads if you are going to ship to the UK.

    I also know of a UK based online store who would be very keen to stock this product if you were ever thinking of distributing abroad that way. Drop me a line if you’d like to talk more about it.

  81. Zuzanna 17 years ago

    I’ve been printing out these sheets for a while, but now I have an irrational desire for pre-printed pages. I’ll take 2 A4 pads when you start shipping to Melbourne, Australia.

  82. Bud Brown 17 years ago

    Are you still taking orders? I’d like to buy some for my colleagues.

  83. Karim Lakhani 17 years ago

    I am ready for 3 pads too.

  84. Mike Wilson 17 years ago

    I’m in for two pads.  Good luck!

  85. Kathryn Martyn, M.NLP 17 years ago

    I’d love to order 3 or more. Please do this!

  86. gordon dykstra 17 years ago

    Hi Dave, I am in for at least one pad, just to join the adventure. Let me know what’s next. Shipping is my big issue up here in the great white north.

  87. Gil Price 17 years ago

    I’m game for 1 pad as it’s now Thanksgiving and almost the end of 2007. If you get ready to run off some with 2008 in them, I’d be good to go for 5 of the 2008 sets also.

  88. Justin Johnson 17 years ago

    I’m good for 1 pad, if I like it I’ll be back for more.

    I’m in Cornelius, NC

  89. emilio morales 17 years ago

    hi david, i dont know if u still have those famous pads, i you have u can count me with 4,