Print Your Own Calendar Pages

DIY-print-your-own-gtd-calendarFour years ago I developed a special kind of calendar for my own Getting Things Done practice. It was so helpful and useful in terms of learning how to implement a ‘Hard Landscape‘ and get real control over my time and my appointments/meetings.

Updated for 2011!

Add to Cart (USD $9.00)

A revolution in calendar design, that you can print for yourself!

What exactly should a calendar do? And how should you use it to get the most out of your day?

Rule number 1: Your calendar should not work against you.

Your calendar should be your guide, a map or a directory to get you through your day. The layout of the information should be designed to work with your natural viewing habits. It needs to help you, not hurt you.

Rule number 2: Your calendar is not a ‘to-do’ list.

A calendar is a tool that is supposed to tell you where you need to be and when you need to be there, or when something is scheduled to happen.

For those of you familiar with David Allen’s Getting Things Done productivity system, you know that only three things are to be entered into your calendar. Three things. That’s it.

1. Time-specific actions

“Time-specific actions” are, simply put, appointments or meetings. These are the things that have to happen at, you guessed it, a specific time.

2. Day-specific actions

“Day-specific actions” are things that need to get done on a certain day, but not at a pre-arranged time. For example, you may need to print out the latest sales figures sometime on Thursday, because you have a meeting to review those figures at 9:00 am Friday. “Print sales figures” goes into the calendar for Thursday as an Action, while “Sales Meeting” goes into the calendar for Friday as an Event.

3. Day-specific information

“Day-specific information” consists of things that you need to know on a certain day, such as directions to a meeting, what your spouse is doing that day, or where to find contact information for a call you need to make. It can also serve as a pointer to a Reference File or something on your Waiting For list.

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Putting Raw Data Into the Calendar Pages

It doesn’t take a genius to print your own calendar pages and then punch some information into the right slots. That’s not the hard part. The hard part is putting the information into your calendar in a way that makes it easy to get that information out again.

Getting Information Out of Your Calendar

How do you read your calendar pages? You think you know, but do you? Marketing and advertising experts have been studying how the human eye and brain looks at text and images for years now — it’s in their best interests to know what you’re looking at and when.

Eye-tracking patterns

Research has shown that consistently, people look in the same places and in the same patterns. Now that the internet is in such wide usage, researchers have been able to scientifically track where your eyes are going when you look at a web page and by association, at your calendar pages.

The “F-Pattern” and What It Means When You Print Your Own DIY Calendar

Readers don’t read.

Users won’t read text thoroughly in a word-by-word manner. Exhaustive reading is rare, and people are busy.
The beginning is the most important.

The first two paragraphs must state the most important information. There’s some hope that users will actually read all of this material, though they’ll probably read more of the first paragraph than the second.

Subheads and bullets are vital.

Start subheads, paragraphs, and bullet points with information-carrying words that users will notice when scanning down the left side of your content in the final stem of their F-behavior. They’ll read the third word on a line much less often than the first two words.

If you can use this information to create a web page that delivers more information more quickly, it follows that you can use the same principles to design a calendar page that does the same thing.

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The F-Pattern Put to Practical Use

The result of this work is a set of calendar pages that incorporates the “F-pattern” in its design. Set up as a two-page system, the vertical left-hand column of each page in your DIY Planner is set aside for the most important items that you need to look at.

print-your-own-gtd-calendarThe strategy behind this design is to incorporate the natural eye-movements in the “F-pattern” found in the eye-tracking study:

* The “Big Rocks” are listed first, on the left-hand edge of the page. This is where your eyes spend the most time, and this is where you look first while planning and executing.

* Your ‘Most Important Tasks’ get listed at the top of the column for each day.

* Appointments for the day go across the top of both pages. This is the second place your eyes will scan, giving you an “automatic” quick-review of what is coming up, and what has been accomplished.

* The middle of the left-hand page leads the eye to an area for focusing on open @Project contexts. This acts as a guide for our eyes, again to be able to review which Next Actions are outstanding. There is room in each box for the Context.

* The small calendar in the very bottom left is dated with the days of the week, in a Monday through Sunday format.

* The middle of the right-hand page contains a prompt for you to enter your Weekly Review notes.

The In Context MultiMedia Store - DIY PlannerIf you found this article useful, consider supporting my efforts here by purchasing the calendar I developed. It is not a free calendar download, but what good are some of the free calendars you can print when they don’t save you any time or improve your productivity?

Click on the image to the left in order to visit the store and see the GTD Printable Calendar, a DIY Planner set of 2-page-per-week calendar pages which you can download. The most current edition is available now. If you are interested in having me design a customized calendar for you, please let me know.

If you would like to get involved join our Affiliate Program, or send an e-mail with your thoughts or suggestions to stephen [at] stephenpsmith [dot] com.

You can purchase this calendar in a PDF download here: Add to Cart (USD $9.00)

Thank you so much for supporting Productivity in Context!

23 thoughts on “Print Your Own Calendar Pages

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  7. i’m looking for 3×5 inch monthly calendars pages, on 2 pages for planner of same size. small i know, but what i like.
    I’d appreciate if anyone has something i can print out.


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  10. >>Heather – not a 3″ x 5″ version, if that is what you mean. 5.5″ x 8.5″ is as small as they get.

    I may do something like that size for 2009 if there is enough of a response.

    Theoretically, you could shrink the 5.5″ size down when printing, since you have to cut them anyway…

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  12. Looks Good, Stephen – can you please tell me what the symbols in each day’s Appointments section are meant to signify.


  13. Hi Gordon, the first three symbols are to identify your 3 Most Important Tasks for the day, and the smiley faces indicate appts/meetings/face-to-face communication.

    Thanks for reading!

  14. So I print out the calendar on 8-1/2 x 11 but find that the Monday/Tuesday page is on the right hand side and not the left! Clearly A Design flaw for those who want to print and use on a single sheet of letter-sized paper. After paying $9 I am asking Stephen to please reverse the printout and allow purchasers to re-download. Thanks…an otherwise satisfied customer.

  15. I just ordered the calendar pages and have the Paypal receipt. But, no product was ever sent me. It’s been 30 minutes.

  16. Hey. I absolutely need to actually make a good short commentary and let you recognize that I’ve been reading your personal site for quite some time. Keep up the excellent task and I’m going to be browsing back again once again once again.

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