Upcoming Emergent Task Planner Print Run Update

Upcoming Emergent Task Planner Print Run Update

ETP Version 2 The next round of commercially-printed Emergent Task Planner Pads is almost ready to go to print! I’ve made what I think are improvements the basic design. So what’s new?

  • I moved the day grid back to the left. The reason for this is to make it easier to “half fold” the page when you are using a binder to keep your forms; you can refer to the previous page a little easier. Plus, I have always liked this layout better. I can’t even remember why I changed it before.
  • I’ve removed the references to the A B C D E time boxes, which also simplifies the design of the day grid. The benefits: less confusion about the letters, and more space for writing. There’s a corresponding change in the task trackers; no more mystery letters to mystify the user. If you were using the time boxing concept before, it is still be easy to apply; you just don’t have to deal with the lettering that I came up with before I knew that time boxing was already around.

  • I’ve rewritten the encouraging prompts for the major tasks in a more “practical” tone of voice. I think they’re still supportive (a feature I like about the original form), but now they also provide helpful reminders to watch your energy levels when going for a massive day of (perhaps overoptimistic) productivity.



p>ETP Version 1 vs. Version 2

free versions

These changes will be propagated to the free downloaded version, of course, when I do the 2010 design refresh. And yes, there will be an A4 version! However, the printed versions I’m making now will still be US Letter (8.5×11) until I figure out how to do fulfillment in Europe.

colors colors colors

I’m 70% sure that I will be reprinting the full color design, but I’ve also been looking at single-color versions as a possibility because they look pretty darn good in color. Check it out.

ETP Color Variations The main difficulty I’m facing is that I don’t know which color to pick. If anyone has a preference, I’m all ears. Just provide a reason if you can. I suppose I am leaning toward the blue one myself.

going to press

Yesterday I met with the commercial printer, Papergraphics, and got an account specialist assigned to me to finalize the details of the next print run. I was happy with them last time, and after a brief flirtation with another printer in Manchester ended with my customer service rep taking a job elsewhere, I decided to stick with the local company. Besides, a couple of my friends also use them and have been quite satisfied with the service.

I’ll be printing another 250 pads in a few weeks, and instead of selling them here on the website, I’ll be using Amazon Marketplace and Fulfillment by Amazon. What this means is that you’ll be able to find and order the pad right on Amazon.com (assuming I’ve set everything up correctly). I plan to write about the setup in a future blog post; it’s actually fairly straightforward once you figure out how to navigate Amazon’s maze of terminology.


The commercially printed pads will be advertising-free, but to support the development of the current and future forms I’m considering advertising or sponsorship for the free downloadable versions. Stylistically, the advertising might take the form of a single line of text inserted someplace on the form, perhaps near the Notes area. Even then, the eyeball stickiness factor is crazy high because users are actively scanning the form several times a day. If there are advertisers reading this and find the idea intriguing, feel free to contact me and we can start a conversation. If you are a reader that does NOT want to see advertising on these forms, I’d love to hear any rationale against it.


  1. Kirstin 15 years ago

    Hi David! I love your blog and I love this product. I like the blue one too. I’m not sure why, maybe it’s less stressful? All of the colors are great so I see why you are having trouble picking just one, but blue gets my top vote. Can’t wait to order!

  2. Kevin-K 15 years ago

    yeaah! I was also considering the blue one! I wouldn’t pick the purple and the red one, because the darker text on the lighter background just doesn’t look that good, too dark, I think…

    The green is also quite good, but I like the blue one more!!!

  3. Daniel Nicolas 15 years ago

    I think the light blue color would be better than the full color version. That way when you’re writing with a black ink pen, it really jumps out.

    Also, the light blue would sorta feel like a blueprint. Since I have been using these to plan my day each morning, it would extend the metaphor to have the blueprint of my day give the same emotional feedback.

    Either way, I’ll be throwing down the money for 5 pads.

  4. Lynn O'Connor 15 years ago

    I have a strong preference for blue. The green did not grab me, thus I ended up using many of the home-printed version. It was just for that blue!

  5. Posco Grubb 15 years ago

    IIRC, the reason you put the day grid on the right side was to encourage thinking about tasks and goals first, followed by scheduling second. It doesn’t matter to me either way.

    The removal of the A B C letters and the 4-hour, 2-hour and 1/2 hour time boxes is a big improvement. Just today I was looking at my form for yesterday and noting how I rarely use the 4-hour and 2-hour time boxes and how multiple 1-hour time boxes can be combined for those longer tasks.

    As for colors, I like them all except the red one. Having multiple colors (a new one for each week?) might help make the form feel “fresh” so that users don’t get bored of using them.

  6. Ed 15 years ago

    Blue doesn’t always photocopy well

  7. Marty Marsh 15 years ago

    Hi David,

    I love your emergent task planner and use it all the time. I am far more productive when I do. I’m anxious for the downloadable update. I travel full-time, so receiving packages can sometimes be a pain, but I may have to order these pads just to get the new version. 2009, 2010, the date is really irrelevant to me. I can write in my own date.

    In fact, for economy sake, so you don’t have to throw out any unsold later next year, just leave the year designation off entirely.

    Perhaps for the downloadable version, you could offer all the colors. Personally, I like green, but the blue is nice, too.

    Thanks, David, for what you do. I especially like your authenticity in sharing your struggles. Many of which I share with you.

    Plus I love using forms for a variety of things I do and yours are always the best.

    Best to you,

  8. Dave Seah 15 years ago

    It looks like blue is the most popular out of the early weekend sample, with a couple votes for green. I am getting quotes for printing 1, 2, and 4C.

    Posco: Thanks for the reminder on the original design justification! Multiple colors might be an option for the downloaded versions, but not the print version unless they really take off and I can afford to do variations that sell. Right now, the goal is to print one project and hopefully sell through so I can afford to do it over and over. Bootstrapping an entire business! With income will come a lot of other cool things I can start designing and selling, I hope :-)

    Lynn: I didn’t know that! Intriguing!

    Ed: Good point! Are you actually photocopying these sheets? If the blue is dark enough, it should reproduce…I think only light blue is non-repro on optical copying systems like photocopiers. The light blue tinted backgrounds, actually, probably shouldn’t photocopy, so this could be a benefit.

    Marty: The pre-printed pads have always had the write-in date, so you don’t have to worry about that. The downloaded versions usually have the date provided, partly because it looks cool, and partly to remind people to come see if there are any updates in the new year :-)

  9. Layla 14 years ago

    I love the left-side grid too!
    (so I ended up with downloading the form from 2007 the other day..)

    My personal favorite color would be green (as I’m trying to go green myself:) Maybe not so light green, a bit darker than in the sample below? blue is lovely too, depending on the exact color a bit..
    It would also be fab if you could somehow have either at least partly recycled or greener chlorine-free (TCF or at least ECF) paper & eco inks… I know the budget is a consideration too..

    A small & well-styled advertising logo wouldn’t be a problem, wouldn’t like to see any advertising for firms I totally stand against though (eg horrible polluters or ‘Always Ultra’ or such..)
    So maybe, if you had several companies interested, the downloader could ‘select your own logo’ to be advertised? That would be way cool!!

    I’m happy to support green or human rights NGOs or really green/fairtrade companies.. (so maybe you could even directly approach some of these?)
    They could maybe even pay you per number of clicks on their logo? (wild brainstorming here :))

  10. William Seville 14 years ago

    1. Light Blue doesn’t photocopy, which may be a positive (I like blue graph paper for this reason)

    2. One line is OK.  Even a 1/4” logo is OK.
    The fun part is hitting the relevance/lust balance for your audience.

    eg. me: the golden arches are more than irrelevant (and doubleplusunlustable) where as Piaget is at the other extreme.

  11. Regan 14 years ago

    From a marketing perspective, I think advertising on the forms is a bad idea, unless it’s for David Seah. When people see the forms, you want them to think of your business and skills, not about Suntrust Bank or Epson printers.

    If people use these in their office and throughout the day, people besides users will see them. Even people who love Outlook and their PDAs.

    I’d enlarge your personal info & website address, add a tag line and logo, and think of these things as your marketing pieces. Like pens or mugs or mousepads that you get from every company on the planet at a convention, but way cooler.

  12. CricketB 14 years ago

    I like the year pre-printed on all the forms. As you said, it reminds me to check for updates.

    What about selling them to banks, etc., with room for their advertising, for them to give as “gifts”? Could be as tacky as a sticker or stamp, or you could co-ordinate proper printing, just swapping out that section. (Or use them as freebies for your clients, friends, potential clients—networking!)

    I like the 5-day planner, but would prefer 7 days, at the expense of the list on the right. (I want so much on a small size, something has to give, and the entire week in view trumps todo list on the same page. I like this form more as a diary than a planner.) Also, a few blank rows at top or bottom would be nice, but I can use the last hour. Ideally, this would fit at the top of a standard page, but I have to be realistic.

    Another idea, a 2-part form. Not sure if it’s more fancy than functional or not.

    Daily pages: The time boxes printed one day per page, on sheets cut in half top to bottom. The current size takes only 1/4 of a page, fill the rest of that half-page with 4-6 boxes. I’d assign them to meal plans, deadlines, birthdays.

    Weekly pages: The major tasks and notes on full size sheets, printed so this part is on the right side, visible beside the day pages. Maybe a series of boxes on the left, under the day pages. There would be tons of extra room on the backs of the day and week pages. I like this rather than print the ETP part on the right of the Sunday page—it keeps “weekly” more flexible. Good for planning on the weekly level. Some of those boxes on the day pages could be today’s tasks, copied from the weekly ETP.

    Getting really fancy: cut the bottoms of the day pages in tabs with the day, so it’s easy to navigate.

    Lastly, and this is really fancy, shrink it to 1/2 page—what Franklin calls Classic.

    Just ideas. Use, abuse or ignore.

  13. Sandy 14 years ago

    I agree with Regan that your own logo is best.  Sometimes I get pretty annoyed by logos on things that I have to see all the time.

    On colors, I wonder if you can check them out to see how well evernote’s handwriting OCR works with the different colors?  I had to shelve a plan to scan my notebooks into evernote to make them searchable, because the gridded paper that I’d been using interfered.

  14. Regan 14 years ago

    Oh, and for what it’s worth, I agree with Posco (and your original plan) about putting “the day grid on the right side was to encourage thinking about tasks and goals first, followed by scheduling second.”

  15. CricketB 14 years ago

    More thought on the multi-page planner idea. I tried it, and found I prefer to see the entire week at once. Another idea whose time has not yet come, at least not for me. Hope you didn’t spend too much time doing it just for me.

  16. Dave Seah 14 years ago

    Layla: That’s a great idea about going greener. I will look into using green paper and inks on the next print run. Thanks for the suggestion!

    Regan: At first I was resistant to the idea, but I’ve warmed to it. I have difficulty really promoting myself because I don’t like bothering people. I figured having a large identity for each individual form might be intriguing enough to pull people in. So now I’m leaning away from advertising again and will consider enlarging the information there. It’s been taking years to really describe whatever “service” I offer.

  17. MaryB 14 years ago

    I wonda’ wonda’ wonda’ if this pad is at the printa’ printa’ printa’ …but no rush. I was only wondering if you were planning a production run for the New Year, or a bit before that?

  18. Marco Carolli 14 years ago

    Well, I use different colours for the differents areas of life such as:
    Education – Orange
    Health – Light gray
    Spare time, socilization, entertaiment – Yellow
    Sport – Light blue
    Culture- Blue
    Economy – Violet
    Spirituality – Brown
    Work – A light green/blue tonality
    Home and everything else – Green

    It would be nice to have the possibility to choose a different color for each area! ^ ^

    Have a nice day