Happy Holidays and Coming Calendar Updates

Happy Holidays and Coming Calendar Updates

A belated holiday greeting! I had a pretty good Christmas with family and friends, and in the days between now and the New Year I’ve got quite a few calendar updates to get out of the way, most notably the Compact Calendar, the Word Counting Calendar, and the ETP Almanac. These are all fairly involved updates that I try to get out of the way earlier in the year…oh well! I’ve let quite a lot of the stationery side of Dave Seah Enterprises coast this year because of the contract work, but I think 2016 I will have to make that more the focus.

Anyway, these updates are coming this week. I’m going to make some guesses as to “how much time” each will take:

  • Compact Calendar – Basically just updating the year in the Excel file and double-checking that my automatic holiday calculations work. That’s about 30 minutes. The time-consuming part is creating the PDF, which involves printing the Excel file as PDF, cleaning up all the awful output and repositioning it on a new document. Then, updating the package text and zip file, uploading, and changing any text. It’s about a 2-3 hours job there, I’m thinking, so I’m estimating 3 hours for the whole update.

  • Word Counting Calendar – This is a more involved update because I have to individually layout each month and calculate total words per week for every week of the year. I have a shell template that has the basic graphics elements in it, but it’s still fairly time consuming. Each year a handful of people download them for $7. It’s probably a solid 4-6 hours to do the update. Perhaps this year I’ll make it donationware and see if anything changes.

  • Emergent Task Planner Almanac – This is a major update that involves creating an XML file with all the holiday and dates, then customizing 365 pages twice. Mentally, it feels like a week of work, but it probably is more like 8 hours spread over two days. Last year I took steps to automate the process a little more.

I guess I should feel grateful that I have these tools at all and some income comes from them. For 2016 maybe I should think of some ways to make the update itself more fun instead of tedious. I’ll probably feel better once I get them put out there, of course!


For an example of how estimates and actual time doesn’t stack up, here’s the actual times!

Compact Calendar – I estimated 2-3 hours. Actual time 2.75 hours:

  • 1.25 hours for finding the old Excel files, renaming them, making updates to the years, deciding to get rid of the Sunday-Friday version, add no-holiday worksheets, print and edit PDFs to size for A4 and Letter papers
  • 1.00 hours to print a sample, photograph and process, import images and create zip files, update main listing.
  • 0.25 hours to make a really brief post and upload it.
  • 0.25 hours to post links to Twitter, Facebook, check zip archive integrity.

Emergent Task Planner Almanac – I estimated 8 hours. Actual time 5.5 hours.

  • 1.00 hours to reread the notes from last year and produce the first major file using XML workflow
  • 0.75 hours to generate remaining 7 major variants (had to also correct mistake)
  • 0.25 hours to create blank PDFs from 8 major variants (16 totals)
  • 0.25 hours to create updated e-shop graphics for Shopify and Gumroad from templates
  • 0.50 hours to update product listings on all shops, quick testing of links
  • 0.75 hours to update ETP Page links
  • 2.00 hours to write blog post, prepare accompanying images

Word Counting Calendar – I estimated 4-6 hours. It took 6.25 hours of focused work in several sessions over 10 hours.

  • 0.75 hours to find and update documentation to remember how I did it, update week count spreadsheet
  • 1.25 hours to update all word counts for January, based on spreadsheet, and double-check
  • 2.00 hours to do the same for February through December
  • 1.00 hours to update all the prompt text, then export PDF
  • 0.50 hours to proof calendar from hardcopy
  • 0.75 hours to add to shopify store, gumroad, tweet and facebook, and write blog post


  1. Gretchen 6 years ago

    Thank you for all the effort you put into these–and for the insight into how long each takes you. I am working VERY hard at getting better with my time estimates, because I realized after a very expensive (to me, not the client, alas) job this summer that I absolutely have to improve at it. Can’t wait for the Compact Calendar so I can paste it into my daily notebook!

  2. Thomas 6 years ago

    Hi David

    I use your ETP to reset my focus in my fractured life for some time and I have evolved a way of using it. I find myself putting the top 3 items as my target tasks, and the bottom three tasks being allocated to :

    ‘TimeWaste’ – things that I allocate as wasteful time such as facebook or being distracted by the news feed (or web-comics, very wasteful in my looking at webcomics) ‘Household’ – for those moments when you are distracted or needing to walk the dog, hang out washing or help my housemate deal with errant children. ‘TimeVest’ – which is the opposite of TimeWaste – a practice of recovering from an unfocussed life and re-centreing – things like the Gym, meditation, networking calls to friends on business etc.,

    Breaking down the non-target jobs into those maintenance jobs makes the day accounting more realistic for me, but I find that those tasks still outweigh the needful productive tasks that are at the top of the page.

    Anyhow, I thought you might like to hear how I have modified my use of your ETP page.



  3. Naomi 6 years ago

    Yes, thank you for continuing to offer these productivity tools! It’s an ongoing process for me, too. Love the tools, love the sense of community here. Happy holidays!