Emergent Task Planner (Free Version) 2009 Updates

Emergent Task Planner (Free Version) 2009 Updates

Emergent Task Planner Updates

Plan your day as it happens

The Emergent Task Planner (or ETP) is a Daily Planning Sheet that provides several means for visualizing the time you have available so you can get some work done. Unlike other planning sheets which merely block out time and leaves you to hope for the best, the ETP borrows some of the task planning methodology from the Task Progress Tracker to reinforce one idea: it’s hard to get anything done on purpose when there are so many distractions. The ETP provides space for noting down the unexpected.

The 2009 edition is available now in two versions: the old “free” version with the Time Scheduling on the right side, and as a special treat I’m providing a variation of the 2007-2008 Preprinted Edition design.

Download 2009 Emergent Task Planner Printable Forms

For information about the Emergent Task Planner, the original post describes each design feature in greater detail.

Or Save Your Expensive Printer Ink

You can now buy high quality offset-printed pads of 75 sheets, using the new blue and orange color scheme, on Amazon.com. And yes, you can take advantage of that Amazon Super Saver Shipping when you buy more than $25 of stuff from them. Check it out! Your purchase helps me spend more time blogging and designing about productivity, and I appreciate it!


  1. miklb 13 years ago

    The links are to the 2007 forms, unless I’m missing something.  Looking forward to using these more consistently this year.

    Also, the captcha for my comment says “submit the word you see below”, however the “word” has a numeral with it.  I tried just submitting the word, but got an error.  I assumed it was a trick question, but alas, no?

  2. Dave Seah 13 years ago

    Should be updated now…thanks for the heads up! Sorry about the captcha strangeness. I guess the programmers have odd notions of what a word is.

  3. miklb 13 years ago


  4. CubicleAnimal 13 years ago

    I liked your forms the first time I chanced upon your blog a month back and have been tracking them ever since. Thanks very much for publishing the free version of the forms. I’m sure it will help me manage their day better.

  5. Phil Andrus 13 years ago


    My Pre-Printed ETPs have arrived.

    Gorgeosity!  Thanks.

  6. poscogrubb 13 years ago

    The awesome ETP is my favorite form of the PCEO set, and I use it often. Thanks! The second tool of yours that I use is the beta online version of the ETT.

    But I have just a minor annoyance in the ETP (it exists both in last year’s version and in this update): In the 29th line of the time scheduling, there’s a missing dot. The fact that a dot is missing is not what troubles me. It’s the implication that you drew every single dot and you missed drawing one that troubles me. (because if you were using copy-paste or some array tool, there wouldn’t be a missing dot).

    On the other hand, maybe it’s just an intentional imperfection to appease the god of productivity tools…

  7. Raghuveer 13 years ago

    Thanks a lot David!

    I stumbled across your site a few weeks ago when searching for time management tools, and have bookmarked your site – to follow-up regularly.

    Thanks for sharing the ETP in the updated layout. I like the new layout—where you logically start your day at the top-left by listing out the important tasks.

    I have been using the ETP for 3 weeks now, and I so far, I have not fared very well in sticking to the schedule.

    Distractions—both important and unimportant—result in large deviations from the plan. The situation gets much worse after mid-day when the motivation and energy levels also go down to complicate matters further.

    Now, while I will continue to work on it, I also think it will help if the tool lets me record both the “plan” and “actuals” in the schedule.

    Temporarily, I am trying the following approach—

    1. When you plan your schedule, put only the numbers of tasks in the schedule grid.
    2. When you actually complete a task on schedule, circle it.
    3. When another emergent task takes precedence, put the number of the new task in a circle and strike-off the original number (and shift it to a new time-slot)
    4. at the end of the day, all circled numbers in the schedule grid are actuals.
    5. Also, sometimes I have some sundry tasks listed that I do not schedule at the beginning of the day. I enter them into the schedule grid, and circle them, but only when I finish them.
    6. In the task-list, to differentiate tasks that are already scheduled from those that are yet to be scheduled, I again use circling.

    I would like to hear about any pros and cons of this approach.

    Also, another generic idea that I have not fully explored myself—

    For people who have done their “Life Goals” exercise, there is likely to be a prioritized list of Long-term, Medium-term, and Short-term goals.

    It might help if one could use a coding method to identify which tasks tie to those goals, so that at the end of a week or month, one can measure what proportion of their productive time have they spent on pursuing those goals. At least in theory, the results of this analysis should strongly motivate one to change any bad habits like procrastination, and to do any course-correction in the plans.

    I have not read through all your other posts on the blog. I may have missed any articles or tools where you have already explored these ideas.

  8. Race Proffitt 13 years ago

    Thanks for putting these forms together. They are very clean and well organized.

    In the Emergent Task Planner for 2008, as well as other forms on your site, please post a completed form, showing how each of the form features are used.  I believe this would help me and other viewers to understand how to efficiently use your layout.


  9. Dave Seah 13 years ago

    poscogrubb: LOL, I had fixed that missing dot in the updated print version, but forgot to go back and fix it in the old version. I’ll get to that when I have a chance…thanks for noticing it! The dots are indeed individually placed on a laboriously-constructed grid. Oh, the teeth gnashing that went on regarding the best size and color for the dots! :-)

    Raghuveer: Yah, that’s a problem I face also. The day seems to get destroyed sometimes as it goes along, but I think that is just the way life is. And certainly, being able to see it happen is valuable because you then ask the next set of questions.

    I’ve also felt the need for some kind of roadmap form for the goals, in addition to a scratch planning form. These are all different levels of continuity that need to be addressed. I haven’t designed a specific tool for this yet, but I suspect I will this year. It is driving me bonkers :-)

    Race Proffitt: That’s something I’ve meant to do for a while, which is to refactor the instructions spread across several posts into convenient reference form. It’s something I plan to do for 2008 as I tidy up the entire library. It’s pretty laborious though, and there are dozens of forms that I have to fill out and then meticulously document. I haven’t heard many complaints about this yet, but I think to reach a broader audience it will be necessary.

    In the meantime, you might find the printed version instruction sheet  post to be helpful in understanding the function. These were packed with the printed version of the pads that I have slowly been shipping out.

  10. David 13 years ago

    Hi. I have been using these forms with absolutely no planning. I have been using it more as a record of my day. At the end of the day I see if I accomplished any major tasks, see what took up the most amount of time and try to learn from them.

    I think you have another form that is suppose to help with that, but I love the layout of this one and feel it helps me record my day.

  11. revan 13 years ago

    Hi David,

    I’ve been using your forms and compact calendar for a while now and love them – thanks.  Do you have a 2-up version of this?  I like a half page size, but don’t want to waste paper . . .



  12. Bonnie 12 years ago

    Love your Emergent Task Planner, I list down what I need to do for the day, and at the end of the day I circle what I haven’t completed and carry it over to the next day.. have become sooo much more organized at work, with room to doodle too.. thank you!

    I second Revan, would love a 4up of this as I have an A6 planner :)

  13. Robin 12 years ago

    Love the new ETP. Great work! Although I have one request. Is it possible to have a ETP printed on both sides of a paper?

    I have tried all kinds of options when printing your form, but I can’t get the second copy printed on the back of the sheet.

    Seems to me a waste of space to not using the other side of the sheet.

  14. Dave Seah 12 years ago

    Revan, Bonnie: I will have to look into making half-sized sheets. How are you making them into booklets? That will help me plan it out.

    Robin: Hm, tricky question…the printer driver doesn’t let you do it! I might just do it the old-school way: print out a bunch of single-sided ETPs, then re-feed them into the printer with the blank side up and print again. Try it with a single sheet first to figure out the right way to flip it…there are at least 3 ways out of 4 to mess up!

  15. Bonnie 12 years ago

    Nevermind David, after fiddling around for a while I was able to do it with an app called FinePrint which prints 2 to 12 ups and repeats pages if you ask it to. Bliss! It also does duplex as well (on duplex supported printers). I don’t use duplex though, as the blank side gives me more room for notes.

    I print out enough ETP sheets for a month, punch holes in them and then I put them in a Corban Blair 2 ring binder. I love this system because unlike a regular diary I’m only carrying sheets around relevant to me as opposed to a whole years’ worth of pages, plus if I miss a day I don’t feel guilty that I am wasting paper. Thank you once again for a stellar diary system. ;)

  16. Jeremy McCleery 12 years ago

    Hey Dave,
    Thanks for the awesome templates, and for being so generous and modest by providing them for free. I think you will be really blessed because of this, as I’m sure you are now.

    Also, thanks for being so humble and accessible.

    I know these forms are going to really help put some order back in my life and I just appreciate what you are doing.

  17. Richard Berke 12 years ago

      Thanks for your ETP sheets and description of using it effectively.  Chunking, with estimates, and priorities, and scheduling, are what I like and need.
      I used TimeBank in the 80s, DayTimer in the 90s, and I tried using a Palm electronic unit for a while.  I resorted to just lined PostIt notes in the front of a journal in recent years.  The journal of notes was what was missing from TimeBank and DayTimer.  I use a leather cover with inside slots and tuck in the covers of small spiral notebooks from Staples, which last me about 2 months each.  I take notes in meetings and phone calls.  I save all my journals for years.
      I have needed to get back to being more organized about tasks, and your ETP sheets and approach helps. 
      I needed half-size printouts, and wanted to save paper.  I have printed 2 copies of the BW PDF, placed them side by side on our copier platen, and reduced to fit on 1 letter size page.  I copied a few dozen of those 2-pagers, then cut down the middle. I am still thinking about whether I want single papers (which can be placed on top of my desk, but can be lost if just loosely carried around), or a stapled stack (tough to see the current page), or some type of long-edge binding.
      Do other folks toss away their pages at the end of the day?  place them in a folder or box? 


  18. Jon 12 years ago

    Great form.  I wish I would have found this a long time ago.  I am wondering if there has been any luck with the 5.5×8.5in (half letter) size.  I know that I can resize with Acrobat but they just don’t look right to me.


  19. Kartik Thakore 12 years ago

    Hi! I am a little confused on the usage of the form. What is the EDCBA columns at the far right end? or How do I use this form is my real question?

  20. Lynn O'Connor 12 years ago

    Hi Dave:

    Thank you for posting the forms—your forms, along with Vitalist, form the heart of my trusted GTD system.

    Another form you came out with at some point, and that I tried to use was some kind of planning form. There was a three-week version and an eight-week version. I failed. I still am hoping to learn to plan (I haven’t yet, more than day at a time -and each day has “stuff” happen, which is one of many reasons that the ETP is so perfect for me. But as I said last year, I continue to need help learning how to plan realistically. I always underestimate how long something is going to take, I forget to plan, I don’t plan the week or the month or four month periods. I do fine with hard edged appointments or classes I teach—they are in GCal and I put them on my ETP each day, in the time slots.

    I am still using the preprinted forms. Every day I put in a light weight flexible 3 ring notebook a printed version of Vitalist, obviously updated a few times a day, with “next actions” (by what needs to be done NOW (@@@MIT), next week, etc, someday, project list, list of things I need my husband’s help with (he is our data and web manager). In front of that I have the ETP for the day, reading for the three ring binder. Behind it I have three weeks of GCal printed out. This letter size notebook organizes me, and also serves as a main tool for my review sessions. The only other thing I use is a large size moleskine labeled “Next Actions” and the date I started the notebook (I use one up in about three months, unless I attend a conference and have many pages of notes from that). I have some index cards in my pockets incase I am without my moleskine. Everything in these devices goes into Vitalist, and eventually onto the ETP. Sometimes the ETP is actually the main collection device, as I put things that happen, phone numbers needed, onto it as it happens, when I have it open. So then stuff goes from there into Vitalist.

    Point is the ETP is central to my system. Now I don’t use the ETP every single day, but most days I do, and when I am really working I certainly do. It focuses me, helps me a great deal, like i said it is an integral part of my trusted GTD system. Reviewing it for a week, is part of my weekly review when I do it.

    I have two reasons I may go back to the free version of the ETP. First, I find that I can’t put many copies of it in the light 3-ring notebook (I like to keep a week’s supply, at least), because the paper is so heavy weight. While this is good for some uses, it is overkill for my system, and it leads to a thicker notebook, which is a problem. Second, this is just personal, I like the colors of the free version more. I’m a blue lover.

    If the next version of the preprint ETP could be printed on slightly lighter paper (something between what I use (standard good copy paper from office max) and what you used for the first preprint version), and if the colors could be a little more vibrant (and blue again?) I would definitely choose to order the 2009 version. I know these are just idiosyncratic preferences (well the second one is, the first problem is practical), but thought I would pass them along to you anyway.

    Being reminded of all these other great forms again is in perfect timing—I think I will use some of them again in the next few weeks, and I will give my doctoral students a whole set of them along with your explanations and site address.

    Thanks for your ongoing support of all of us. And please figure out a way to help me plan beyond a day or two. Maybe for a start I should put five ETP in front of me, and from my Vitalist maintained Next Action list, I should try to select three things for each day??? What do you think?

    Happy New Year Dave!


  21. Leane 12 years ago

    Are you planning to make the standard wide form available as well?  This is the one that prints landscape.

  22. Ben Page-Phillips 12 years ago

    David, do you have a PocketMod version of the Emergent Task Manager?

    In my experience you need a font size of 20 for it to be practical. 
    I recently ditched my PDA phone in favour of a simple Skype enabled mobile, preferring to use pen and paper to plan my days, record notes, thoughts and tasks as I find the pen lubricates the brain.  In the evening I transfer all my collected data from the day to RTM (Tasks) Google Calendar (appointments), Plaxo (Contacts) etc… 

    I live a paper life by day and a digital life by night….

    If anyone has created a PocketMod optimised version please let me know, otherwise I’d like to create my own version.

  23. Brian Binder 12 years ago

    David – just a heads-up; your link still references 2008 but the calendar is for ‘09.

    “The Standard Emergent Task Planner 2008 for color printers” is what I’m referring to.

    Thanks for all your hard work :)

  24. Eric E 11 years ago


    These forms are terrific, I’ve been using them as needed for over a year now, in addition to taking notes on just plain ruled pages.

    17. Richard Berke said on 04/12/2008 07:16AM…
      Do other folks toss away their pages at the end of the day?  place them in a folder or box? 

    Regarding keeping pages, I have a three section expanding file folder for each year labeled “NOTES 2009” that I drop any papers into after processing them. I process each page of notes before filing and transfer anything important to its appropiate place (tasks, billable time, phone numbers, etc). Each section contains four months worth of notes.  Since I am an independent contractor, this is primarily CYA in case I ever am questioned on billable time, work performed, etc.  After ten years, the contents are shredded.  Very seldom do I ever have to refer back, but when I do, this can be a life saver!

  25. Michael 11 years ago

    It would be nice to have a light gray dot grid in the ‘What else is going on’ area to facilitate sketches, similar to this: http://www.creativesoutfitter.com/Products/Action-Pad/3