Circa/Rollabind questions

I've been trying to find a good planning system that works for me. I just spent $23 one a Classic size Franklin planner from Target. It works great except I'm trying to juggle keeping work and personal stuff separate. It is causing an issue - if I put them both in this planner it gets too big. I just bought this planner because my previous one was too big! I could carry two planners? But that is just not what I want to do.

Current solution: I'm keeping the Franklin for my personal stuff and calendar. All my work stuff is going into the $8 "Junior" size Rollabind notebook I just picked up at Staples.

I have a couple questions about the Rollabind products - not sure if it has been around long enough for anyone to be able to answer... One thing I like about Franklin planners is the their archival system. Every year just get a binder, label it with the year and throw all the pages from that year in. Is there an equivalent for Circa?

Also, do any of the Rollabind, Circa or Jotz products have pen loops on them? Any suggestions to where to put your writing utensils?

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Yup, the Circa leather

Yup, the Circa leather foldovers have pen loops.

Archiving Circa/Rolla


For an archive, you can just pick up an extra set of rings. I keep a very small notebook for my planner (quarter-letter) and I have an extra set of rings to archive the old pages. So at the end of each day I pull off the page and stick it on the archive rings. At the end of the month i'll pull the rings off the archive and clip them, probably, and stuff them in a box. After three or four months I'll probably remove the clip and toss the pages entirely.

You can call around to craft stores in your area and see if they carry the 'small' or 'medium' rollabind rings. This would be enough for about a month's worth of pages, with room for extra stickies or business cards or misc papers. If they also carry the 'cover kit' then you can use a set of plastic covers as the base for your archive so it's not all floppy when there are only a few pages in it.

If you want a whole year in one set of rings, you'd want to get the biggest ones you can find--Rolla Jumbo or Circa Large or X-Large. I happen to have some Jumbo rings I'd be willing to let go of--I bought a bag of a hundred a couple weeks ago, and I really don't need all of them. :)

To label the year, you could label the front cover, or get a round sticker to put inside the top ring and write the year on it. I've got some extra plastic around--if you want my rings, I can set up a set of covers too if you give me the measurements you want. I take paypal. :)

On writing utensils, if your binder doesn't have a pen loop, you can stitch one on like shb does, or you can get a long plastic self-adhesive tab (the kind you put labels inside, about 2 inches long and a half inch wide), attach it to a divider inside your binder, and stick your pen's clip inside it. I don't sew, so the tab is my solution.


additional notebooks and supplies

Thanks for the advice and offering to sell me some extra supplies. I plan on using this notebook for a month or until the pages are all gone (whichever comes first) to see if I like this system. I've bought a bunch of new stuff for a system that turned out not to be good far too many times. Prime example: the first Franklin planner I bought was Monarch size. I quit carrying it after a couple weeks because it felt like lugging a brick around!

Jotz: No pen loops

Jotz notebooks don't come with pen loops, though you can clip a pen onto the elastic band in a pinch. None of the Rollabind poly covers have loops either, at least the ones I've seen...

There are several ideas for pen loop hacks floating around the forum. I posted yesterday on one I made from cloth elastic braid.


one more Circa/Rollabind question

OK, I've been using this Rollabind notebook for a while. Here's my take on it: turning pages can be a bit tricky, and folding it over (one of the key features) doesn't work too well if I have the ruler/pagefinder piece on the rings.

As far as the page turning goes, I'm seriously wondering if it might not be a quality issue - cheap paper getting stuck on cheap rings. I'd like to buy a better notebook of this sort to see if this helps at all.

The Jotz refillable notebook looked like the best deal, but when I emailed the only place online that sold them ( I received an email back from their customer service team that indicated that they are currently out of stock. According to the email, if I want a notebook like this sometime this month, I should order from Rollabind or Levenger.

So - that brings up two questions. Does anyone know of a place I can buy a Jotz refillable notebook besides Ultimate Office? And if not, is there any quality difference between Rollabind and Levenger notebooks?

I want to try out a good product and don't care about looks or the brand name since this is pretty much a test drive of the system... But $20 for a 60 page notebook (Levenger letter size) seems a little steep on the price. At the same time, I don't want to pay $7 for a notebook from the Rollabind website (Rollabind letter size notebook) and end up with the exact same issue again.

Well, the 60-page notebook

Well, the 60-page notebook is refillable so it's not a throwaway.

Others have posted about the quality of Rollabind elsewhere on the forum. Maybe you can do a search with Rollabind as the keyword?

I personally have only used Circa. And love it, love it, love it. Well, except for the cost of shipping the items to Malaysia.

Circa starter kit

Levenger does offer a "starter kit" that's only $12 for the letter size. It includes the covers, rings, five tabs, and some of their miscelleanous paper samples. (The covers, rings, and tabs are worth about $20 if you were to buy them separately.) If you don't like it, you could probably list it in the Bazaar here and get someone to take it off your hands!


Some people hear voices in their heads.
Writers take dictation.

The starter kit is available

The starter kit is available in all three sizes - Compact for $8, Junior for $10, and Letter for $12.

Each starter kit includes:
- 2 translucent covers
- ¾" rings
- 10 ruled pages (white)
- 10 multicolored ruled pages (blue, green, gray, ivory and canary)
- 5 grid pages
- 2 each of Things to Do, Project Planner, and Addresses
- 5 perforated 3 x 5 cards
- Tabbed dividers

Circa Starter Kit 2.0

I've asked this question previously in the Circa thread, but I wanted to run it by you all again.

We're looking at a Circa Starter Kit 2.0; I'd love to hear any suggestions for improvements. Any problems with our current notebook or components you'd like to see in the next version?


Circa Starter Kit 2.0 Suggestions

I believe the starter notebooks are great. My last trip past the Tyson's Corner store got me one of the PDA notebooks (they did not yet have the leather ones, so my will-power was NOT taxed), some PDA dividers, and pocket dividers in both Junior and "3x5" size. I'd like to see PDA pocket dividers as well.

As far as a "Starter Kit", are you looking to make one big assortment of parts or what ? How about just expanding the available parts/accessories a bit to permit folks to do an a-la-carte starter setup ? According to the catalog, the only covers available are Letter and Junior size. I would suggest making all the different size plastic covers available. That way folks could "tinker" with the plastic covers to get a comfortable system. Once achieved, they would then return for the nicer covers. That's my plan.
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

PDA pocket dividers & Build-A-Notebook


I'd like to see PDA pocket dividers as well.

I think a PDA pocket divider does make a lot of sense. (Anything I could do to more efficiently manage pockets full of receipts at the end of the day would be great.)

In this same vein, I was thinking we might separate the portable punch from the guide. You've mentioned before that you have used just the small punch device on its own. Would having just the punch as an accessory to the CircaPDA reinforce the idea of it as a portable in-box? [re: Instead of sliding receipts, business cards, or loose 3x5's in a divider pocket, might it be advantageous to just punch all of these things into the PDA if the tool were more independant from the guide?]

According to the catalog, the only covers available are Letter and Junior size.

We need to change the catalog to reflect the presence of Compact translucent covers. The 3x5 notebook and CircaPDA don't yet have these available separately. Yet I think that's a pretty natural suggestion for the kind of experience [build your own notebook] we are creating.

Starter Kits -

I'm really focusing just on the product Chet described for catalog and web. You are fortunate enough to be able to swing in to a retail store to test out the items you're most interested in.

Yea !! Build-A-Notebook

I like the idea of "Build-A-Notebook"

All it would take is a slight expansion of the parts & accessories.
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)



Make a quarter-letter size. :)

Covey's got it but only in a couple of different binders. I've seen one branded as a "Fat Li'l" planner.

What would I like to see? Probably the stuff you've already got in it: plain paper, lined paper, dividers, plastic covers, rings, different calendar formats.. A pen loop device of some kind (I use a plastic tab, but the elastic bands are nicer). I don't use pockets in my little notebook at the moment, but I've got one--i think it's for warehouse tags or something like that, a vinyl clear pocket, no zipper. A choice of disc size/color would be spiffy.

I can't get to the stores, maybe you have all these options available when you're in person (except the size, of course). On the web there are not many things to choose. And the price is definitely not the same. :)

But honestly, I'm probably not the target market here, since I already have a notebook, covers, discs, etc. The pen loop device would be good bait, though.

It really depends on the purpose of the starter kit. Is it really to get you started, or is it just a 'sampler' so you can have a taste and come back to get the full deal?


Sampler vs. Starter


It really depends on the purpose of the starter kit. Is it really to get you started, or is it just a 'sampler' so you can have a taste and come back to get the full deal?

- Great point.
I think it is more of a sampler kit than a starter kit.

Do you think there is anything missing from the kit as a Sampler that would encourage experimentation?

encouraging experimentation


I like the idea of sampler-starter kits. However, usually starter kits refer to sending out the bare minimum tools to get you up and going (covers, rings, one size paper, etc.).

If you ask me, the best samplers not only gather the basics and most "popularly purchased" items together; but they also give some of the more unique or funkier items. They show the full range of the product being offered. In this case I'd show some of the new and unique offerings as well. Like maybe the full-sized, index card holders.... or 3x5 in pocket folders. you could even maybe randomize each packet so that each one contains something unique that the others don't have.

Just some thoughts,

I'm with innowen

Hi Ryan.

A sampler kit would be especially cool if you could get, say, a little bit of everything. Example:

  • Cover: 1 letter size translucent cover set
  • Discs: perhaps the discs could consist of samples of the different colors in the size you choose.. Two reds, two blacks, two silvers, two blues, two whites, etc.
  • Pages: Two or three pages of each and every size and print combination you offer--calendars, grids, lines, blanks, specialty, all bound up together in the same notebook. That would include letter size all the way down to that mini size that only has two holes in it--circadex?
  • Accessories: a tab set in a random size, doesn't have to be letter necessarily--as long as all the tab sets are made from the same stuff, one set would really suffice. Or even one tab in each size (if you've got tag ends of sets for whatever reason this would be a good way to get rid of the odds and ends). Maybe a pocket in a random size, or a page finder, I dunno.
  • A catalog, especially one showing the bits and bobs available in the Circa line.
  • If you do custom printing (of index cards, etc.) then a few forms for that.
  • A set of instructions/features identified/explanations of forms or parts.

That would *really* be a sampler pack. You couldn't *use* it for much, but you'd be able to see and feel everything all at once. It should be offered for a super-small price, since this is the 'browse' you can't get if you're not in the store.

You'd want to do a "starter" kit separately--that would be size-specific, have all one-color discs, etc. This would have a full calendar/agenda for some specified period of time, more of each kind of page, full divider sets, etc.


Circa Sampler/Starter


I picked up a starter kit at the store in DC a few months back (it's about an hour away from where I live, through some of the country's worst traffic, so I've only been there once!). I really like it.

For my 1 cent (inflation), I'd say that I prefer a starter kit, rather than a "sampler." To me, a sampler means that you get lots of odd bits, with the idea of picking the bits you like and tossing out the rest. A starter means it's a subset that you can add to as you need. I picked up a junior starter kit, and I've used almost everything in it.

One thing I *really* liked about the starter notebook was that you include a full set of tabs. I know lots of notebooks just give you just one tab to get started, but that's kind of useless in my opinion. (Yes, I was disappointed to see that the Circa PDAs came with only one tab!) A full set of tabs means you can immediately put the notebook to full use.

I would love to see the starter kit include a few more regular lined pages (20 pages just doesn't last long enough to get a sense of how useful the notebook is). I'd also like to see one of the new pocket dividers for loose pages and/or a zipper envelope. (A page finder might be nice, too). And I'm one who'd like to see ALL the circa notebooks offer a pen loop! (Just a little loop of elastic on the back cover, that's all I'm asking for. It's really not too much to ask, is it? *grin*)

If you wanted to offer a sampler, maybe offer an "accessories sampler" (a set of dividers, a pocket divider, a zip pocket, a business card holder, a page finder, and one circa annotator)-- the sort of things you'd add if you'd just bought the plain notebook first (and not the sampler).

It would also be nice to see Circa products offered in "bundles." (Right now on the website, you're offering a discount if you buy a pack of four notebooks. What about with different items instead of all the same?) For example, a full (not starter) notebook, a set of dividers, a set of zip pockets, a pagefinder, and a portable punch, cheaper than if you bought them all individually. Or offer a discount on the punch if you buy another Circa product.

Honestly, I think that the price of the punch is the main stumbling point for most people when it comes to Circa. (I know I debated over it all through college and grad school, and finally talked myself into it over fifteen years later.) Everything about the system is great, but then you realize that you really need the punch to get the most out of it and you look at the price and go, "Hmmm, maybe not." If you were to offer some sort of discount on the punch, I think more people would jump in and start using Circa. And those are the people who are going to come back and get the leather covers, the new dividers and pockets, etc., later on down the line.

Sorry to ramble on so! Thanks for asking for our input, Ryan. I must agree with the other posts here-- knowing that you're actively listening to our questions/comments/occasional gripes makes me feel even more inclined to make purchases from Levenger. Thank you!


I agree with the others,

I agree with the others, that the sampler and starter kit are two different things. I would also add that perhaps the kits could be subdevided into the type someone would want if they are going down the DIY route, and then the other type for those who like the Circa idea, and are happy to buy the printed inserts and not mess around with scissors and punches. That could be as an add-on pack. No point in wasting forms on people who have no intention of ever buying them. After all, a lot of us like Circe because of the DIY aspect (as well as the flexibility). I also believe that whetting someone's appetite with a cheaper start-up (read: much cheaper punch)would pay in the long run, as its been said here, once you are hooked on the system, then there are the consumables, and later on that luscious leather binder. Btw. I think the sampler kit could include a small leather binder to get a feel for it ;-)
In my oppinion, the biggest hurdle for many to get into the Circa system is the cost of the punch, a big whack up-front, whereby a few rings here, some inserts there, won't be noticed in the same way, and when you are hoocked, the leather binder will be very tempting, even for the DIYer. I would even go as far as to say, the puch could be a loss-leader, real dirt cheap, to get people addicted (can you tell, I am after a punch?).

Sampler, starter--not the same thing..... or are they?

While the opinions have been quite unanimous in agreement that samplers are not starters, I have a slightly different perspective. Yes, they can be, but do not necessarily have to be. My experience is based upon Daytimer years ago. I once bought their "sampler" kit, which was actually a starter kit. It came with three months of booklets (I ordered the tiny 2-page-per-day), with one month of each format for me to work from and choose from. So, I got three months to start with, and a full complement of extra forms in very limited quantities to give me a taste, but more so, to get me three months into using it--just enough to allow me to create a system, and reach the point I couldn't live without it! I was ready to order in time to not miss any time, and all my sampler parts went on being used. This is what I suggest for the Circa system. I am not sure about specifics, but personally, I think what you offer is already pretty close. However, my only "suggestion" would be to maybe have two sampler/starters--a non-planner version, and a planner version. I'm not sure I would go a whole three months, but include enough in the planner version to get a person hooked, and give him enough time to order the complete kit so that he doesn't get frustrated in having to think of living without while waiting. I think that, in my situation, if I had to wait a month to get my complete kit, I would have looked elsewhere--but then again, maybe not. My grades in college went up dramatically in the short time I used my sampler set, and I was pretty sold. ;-) But that is the point--if your product is compelling enough, you got 'em. :-)

Good point, Jon,

I guess it's a matter of semantics here on the sampler v. starter issue-- depends on what the company in question wants to name it.

I think having a planner and a non-planner starter pack is a great idea. After all, some people just want a cool notebook for notetaking/ideas, etc. I bought my first Circa notebooks years ago for that purpose.

A regular (non-planner) starter kit could include 30-40 pages of regular paper, the annotater and a pocket divider, maybe a page for business cards, too. But then again, maybe the non-planner starter pack is just a plain notebook?? :)

The planner starter kit should include three months of monthly/weekly calendars, as you described above, Jon. Along with a collection of other forms, a page finder, the zipper pocket, and a full set of tabs, etc.


sampler pack additions

I'd definitely say the sampler kit needs to have one pocket divider - this would apply to all sizes. I also think having one month of calendar pages (both monthly and weekly) would be a great thing for people like myself who are looking at the possibility of using a Circa notebook as a planner. Including the 3x5 Pocket Dock-it would also be a great idea. I had someone interested enough in the picture I posted on Flickr they blogged about it This is definitely a unique product and could be a big hit with the GTD crowd or anyone who likes using index cards and a planner.

One more thing I think should be added to not just the starter or sampler pack, but all Circa notebooks: a pen loop. There really should be a way to get a notebook with a pen loop without having to buy one of the leather covers. I don't know if this would be better as part of the cover, an index tab, or maybe something completely different. I think someone on here had a pencil holder with some kind of adhesive that held it to the inside of one of the plastic Levenger notebook covers.

Maybe in the long run, there could be a Sampler pack (a little bit of everything) and a Starter pack (everything you need to use Circa as a planner for at least 30 days). The ideal situation would be give people a way to built their own notebook online.


Ryan There should be two


There should be two versions of Starter Kit - one for Letter size and the other for Junior size. Customers coming into a Levenger retail store can only select one size, and if they want both, then they have to pay for the second kit.


letter, junior, and compact

I think your wish has already been granted and then some. If you check on Levenger's website, the starter kit is available in letter, junior, and compact.


Actually, I got the two

Actually, I got the two items wrong. I meant the sampler kit, not starter kit.

Circa Starter/Sampler suggestions

Thanks everyone for the fantastic feedback.
[These are very constructive suggestions]


Paper quality IS an issue

My initial tinkerings used standard 20# paper and were mostly OK, but I saw the kind of thing I think you are talking about. Also, 20# paper does not do nice on duplex inkjet printing.

All the paper from the pre-loaded notebooks is heavier stuff. I'm still trying to balance paper quality with price, but a heavier paper does better on the inkjet issue.

As for "try this" recommendations: the Rollabind notebook will give you a basic notebook loaded with good paper to get the feel of the system. The Levenger starter kit offers a few pages of everything, but is less practical (other than the dividers). A happy medium might be to get one of each :)

Good luck.
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)


i just purchased a rolla notebook from staples and love it - they are pretty inexpensive. some like staples and some do not. i also have a circa notebook (plastic cover), i have a personal punch from rollabind, and i purchsed extra rollabind discs on ebay. i use all of these items together. i also use any paper i have laying around including regular notebook paper that i punch. i have run into zero problems with turning pages, moving pages and folding the notebook. i don't know if i am just lucky or what...
nay nay

Hooked on Circa/Rollabind

I just went in to compare notebooks to compose a halfway intelligent response here. Discovered that I have lots of Circa and Rollabind products that I use interchangeably quite regularly.

I have a Rollabind letter size, a couple 4x6, got the kids a juner size Rollabind with the handles for Christmas '05. I also got a Letter size and Junior size set at Target last fall, the faux leather ones, last one they had, got the set for $5. Plus a Levenger Junior size in the clear plastic covers and a Luscious Levenger Leather foldover in compact size [only one with a built-in pen loop].

Paper Quality: Levenger paper is a little heavier than Rollabind. But in my experience both have held up well, and both take fountain pen ink well.

I have old Circa Letter and Junior notebooks that I bought about 9 years ago when the covers were gray. I refill the Junior frequently with 24 pound white paper that I print lines on. Also have some 'fancy' paper I use for that one.(I'll check and post specifics later. I think it is Ampad brand.)

The Levenger plastic covers are heavier than Rollabind's, but the rings are the same quality far as I can tell. As someone mentioned on the board recently, the silver color on my Target purchase is painted on andis starting to wear off a little bit.