Setting Up a Circa System, D*I*Y Planner Style

Levenger FolioLook through the forums and comments on this site, and you'll see folks with an all-too-common problem. This problem is not relegated to paper productivity fans, but high-tech gadget users as well -- the chief distinction often being the amount of money spent, and the technical ability required. I'm sure you've suffered from it yourself. You've wandered the aisles at your local office mega-store, browsing the shelves and looking in vain for the perfect solution for your productivity crises or creativity ailments. You're convinced it's there somewhere, probably covered in rich leather, sporting multiple pockets that miraculously organise your clutter, holding sumptuous paper that just inspires you to write all the right things. You don't know what size it is: it might be tiny, it might be large. It might consist of index cards, it might be loose paper on rings, it might be fixed pages in a special journal. It may have forms with all the right prompts, it may be blank and free-form. You've tried multiple products and approaches, and none have stood the test of time, and now all you have is a mass of half-written pages of different sizes and shapes and methods and mappings. Still, you think, it's out there: the perfect solution. The Grail quest continues, and like Galahad, you plod wearily onwards and blindly follow the next vision, taking home the next item on the shelves.

Well, the solution is out there. I can assure you of that much. But it's likely your problem lies not in your gear, but in its fluidity. Is your structure too rigid, to the point of caging you and reducing your freedoms? Or is it too loose, where nothing has a place, and nothing is assured? The key is adopting a system that is as fluid as you need it to be, and no more. The system must be crafted to your needs, but be flexible enough to change as you need it, even on a daily basis. It isn't easy, but I believe it can come from the merging of two core products: a powerful but tightly-constructed set of forms, and gear that's flexible enough to be used in many different circumstances. The former may be the D*I*Y Planner, and the latter may be the Levenger Circa line.

Part one of my Circa review concentrated on a basic description of the Levenger's Circa system as a whole, while the second part jumped into more detail on some specific notebook and folio products. In this article, I'm going to delve into how I've set up a Circa-based D*I*Y Planner. Or perhaps a D*I*Y Planner-based Circa system. Of course, the basic premise can apply to other forms, other gear. Be creative, and you'll find a million combinations that can work for you.

Circa Zip FolioIn the last article, I mentioned the various reasons why I decided upon the Levenger Junior Zip Folio for my new planner. In a nutshell, it's slim, well-made, has a zipper (to keep things in, and protect them from the elements), and it can easily take Classic size pages, which to me are a perfect compromise between writing space and portability. The D*I*Y Planner Classic/A5 edition also has the widest variety of forms, several hundred of them for almost every purpose under the sun. Remember that the philosophy of the D*I*Y Planner project is to allow you to create your own system, based on your own individual (and very unique) needs. You shouldn't be tied into using the same dozen forms that commercial companies produce, nor at those outrageous costs.

But the Classic size hasn't always proven the most beneficial under all circumstances. When I'm running around town, or in the woods, I don't want to tote such a large planner. That's when I use a Hipster PDA (created using the D*I*Y Planner Hipster PDA Edition, naturally). I also use index cards when I'm brainstorming ideas, and want to shuffle around items to decide on the best order and approach. Then there are times I want to create a large mind-map, and letter-size paper is more appropriate. This also applies when I want to print out a larger item, such as that of a town map or a detailed bus schedule. Another one of my notebooks, one that fits well into my guide bag, is actually closer to "personal" or "compact" size (4.25" x 6.75"). What does that leave me? A mess of incompatible paper sizes, of course.

But this is where the beauty of the Circa system comes in (or, if you choose, the Rollabind system). I'm now able to bring all of these pieces of paper into one product, and it actually works quite well. I'll explain more as we go.

So, my basic setup is as follows. I'm using a green Circa Junior Zip Folio as my "shell". It has several inside pockets, including large ones that hold folded letter-size sheets and business cards, and it even has two deeper pockets for index cards (very thoughtful!). It has a pen loop where I carry a fountain pen, currently a Lamy AL-Star Green, and I can clip my green Staedtler mechanical pencil onto the bottom of the back pocket. Into this back pocket slips a regular Junior Circa notebook, kept in place by the custom backing I mentioned in the last article. I'm using black 1" diameter rings, which hold about 150-180 sheets, depending upon the thickness of the paper and covers.

(Yes, green everywhere. I think it's an allergic reaction to Winter.)

Let's delve into the components a little, starting with the forms. I realise that many people prefer to purchase forms rather than make them, and that's fine. For my little experiment, I used a number of Levenger's forms in addition to my own. All of them are fairly well-designed and on quality paper. The basic tabbed monthly calendars are light and airy, and I decided to use them mainly because of the tabs. I don't generally use the additional "Important Notations" and "Monthly To Do" pages, but they may come in handy. My only problem with these is that the plastic coating from the tabs extends down into the writing area, which means... well, that you can't write within that region unless you're using a permanent marker. (I've mentioned this to Levenger, and they're bringing it to the attention of their printer.) A minor quibble, since the unwritable areas are fairly small and thus don't bother me much. Of course, you can easily print and punch D*I*Y Planner calendars, as long as you have a daily page-finder of some type to find your way.

In fact, Levenger has just produced a page-finder, but I haven't seen it yet. Instead, I'm using some Satellite Action Cards (from the D*I*Y Planner Hipster PDA set). With some careful punching, I create a few cards that easily clip into the notebook at the point of the current calendar, and their tabs extend upward for easy location. I have NA@Work, WF@Work and NA@Home. These are the GTD cards I review many times a day. I keep separate project-oriented sections for items I review less frequently.

I use two sets of five tabs to divide the various sections of my notebook. For these, I've decided on the soft colour tabs, since they're thin, tinted with subtle but rich hues, and Classic-sized. Remember that Levenger is slowly changing from Junior to Classic, so your own printed forms will be slightly longer and thinner than their wider and shorter ones. The differences are negligible enough that I can mix and match the two sizes without any problems. For the tabs, though, you should write a little closer to the tops of the labels, so the wider paper doesn't cover your text. Easy enough.

Now, your tab sections will probably be quite different from mine, but I'll list them anyway. Forms mentioned are from the standard D*I*Y Planner Classic/A5 kits.

  • D*I*Y Planner: where I keep Action Quadrants to manage multiple aspects of the site, Potential Quicklists for possible article entries, various mind-maps, template Checklists, lots of notes, and so forth. The site and the kits can get very complicated at times, so this is frequently one of the largest parts of my planner.
  • Creativity: Journal forms for notes, Story Boards, Potential Quicklists, Potential Projects, Story Ideas, and a heap of blank pages.
  • Sherlock: the section devoted to my Sherlockian pursuits, and incorporating book lists, movie lists, notes, article ideas for my other blog, and so on.
  • Home: home-related forms, including Checkbook Register, Financials, Receipt envelope, errand Checklists, Action Quadrants, and so on.
  • Business: the main generic section for my real-world job. The obvious forms, including notes, actions, financial ones, receipt envelope, and blank paper for mind-mapping.
  • Projects: various work-related projects, consisting mainly of Combined Action forms and the manyDiyP project management forms, along with notes.
  • Technical: serial numbers, network configurations, extranet development info, technical support numbers (using Sources forms), and so on.
  • Journal: mainly blank paper, since I sketch as well as write. More on this later.
  • Contacts: Important Numbers form, many Contact forms, and some Sources forms. The Sources are for "yellow" page information, like Taxis, local restaurants, or suppliers. I also keep eight Circa address cards here. These are 2" high cards that fit into a CircaDex, which is like a small portable Rolodex in a nice little leather Circa-ringed notebook. I move these cards from project to project as needed. For example, I might put a client contact on one of these cards, and move it into the appropriate project tab or area as needed. They clip onto the Circa rings, of course, and so this proves quite easy to do. However, one of the only downsides of the current Circa system is that there are currently no A-Z tabs. I'm told they're coming, but it will take a while. In the meantime, I have a Contacts form for the letters of the alphabet.
  • Inbox: this is where I turn when I answer the phone, go to a meeting, or otherwise encounter unstructured information. I write it down, then transfer the pertinent pages or bits to other sections or notebooks.

I mention using multiple notebooks above, and this is definitely a strength of the Circa system. For example, I do a lot of work for one particular organisation, and so I have a tabbed Circa notebook just for them. As I finish off relevant planner pages, I move them to that notebook. I also value my privacy quite a bit, and prefer not to keep all my most intimate thoughts and ideas in my planner. I now keep a Circa journal at home, and as I finish writing pages in my folio, I transfer them into that notebook when I get back to the house. On occasion, I also use a compact Circa notebook for meetings, and I transfer these pages into the folio (or other notebooks) as needed. Since the rings are all equidistant on all Circa products, one can easily move sheets from one to the other, as long as the book is large enough. My folio thus easily takes index cards, CircaDex address cards, business cards, Junior sheets, Classic sheets and compact sheets.

In a similar fashion, I've created "landscape" sheets that fit into the Junior. For a blank sheet (e.g., for mind-mapping), simply fold a letter-size sheet in half, punch one shorter edge, and then chop a half-inch off the other side so it can clip in easily. I have my maps and other large sheets done the same way.

Let's take a quick look at some of the other Circa products that --while optional-- can really enhance a planner.

The Circa forms produced by Levenger are of a limited variety, and fairly basic but functional, which is handy if you don't want to produce your own. The Address pages, Project/Goal Planner, Expenses and Things To Do forms are open and fairly elegant, but they lack a certain consistency of layout when it comes to borders, blocks, shading and fonts. (I'm sure most people will probably never notice this; after designing several hundred such forms, I can't help it.) Once can also pillage the Circa Agenda for plenty of other forms and references, including weekly planning, weather norms, interest rates, and holidays. Once can easily add larger rings to the Agenda and use that as a base for a full-fledged planner. (I personally don't need a weekly calendar -- monthly tabs are fine.) However, let's keep in mind that Levenger hasn't set out (yet) to produce a full-fledged planner line like Franklin-Covey or Day-Timer. They're concentrating on other things, and (by all accounts) are doing a damn fine job on those.

If you have a job requiring gathering business cards (at least long enough to input the information elsewhere), Levenger now produces an interesting variation on business card holder inserts. The Junior size takes 24 cards. "24?" you ask, "how is that possible?" Yes, most card inserts only take eight, and that's putting them back to back. Levenger is using a tiered overlay of pockets, one overlapping another, then overlapping another, and so on. It's a great idea. You can put two cards in each pocket, back to back. While you can only see about an inch of most cards, it's generally enough to find what you need at a glance. Of course, this insert can get rather thick if you're not careful, so transfer your cards or information elsewhere as you get a chance. Or, of course, you can keep all of the cards from a particular organisation in its own insert, then clip it into a notebook with your other pertinent notes and project information.

Levenger has started producing a series of "soft colour pocket dividers", otherwise known as slash pockets. These are made in the same rich hues of the tabs mentioned above, and have a diagonal pockets used to store sheets of various types. These are really well-made. The plastic is thin but strong, and is just the perfect size to hold about eight Classic-size sheets comfortably. But hold on... they come in other sizes, and these also clip onto your Circa rings. So, for example, in my Creativity section, I have an index-card sized slash pocket to hold some of my Hipster PDA plot and character cards. Beautiful! Did you see what I meant when I mentioned that one could have the flexibility to bring all the little relevant bits and pieces together into a holistic system? One small caveat here: the Junior size slash pockets are slightly larger than the standard plastic Junior notebook covers. This isn't an issue at all if you're using it at the back of a folio like I am, but some people may take issue with the odd sizing.

I'm told that there are zip pockets on the way from Levenger, but these "have yet to drop." This will certainly be a welcome addition, as I like a place to keep stamps, paper clips, tab labels, and a few coins. My Ziplock baggie isn't quite so classy as the Levenger gear.

In the back of my planner, behind the slash pockets, I have a Circa Annotator. It's basically a black card with all kinds of Post-It-like flags. It may seem a little costly at first, but a visit to my local supply store tells me that the pricing is on par with buying all the flags in separate kits. If you get a bulk deal on mega-store flags, however, you can always restock the card as needed. Or heck, make your own. (This is DIYPlanner, isn't it?)

Speaking of price, creating a full-fledged planning solution can be costly with the majority of brand-name gear on the market, especially if you flit from one setup to another. My own 3-, 6- and 7-ring planners, along with various components (punches, inserts, binders, forms, and so on) have rarely been inexpensive, and especially if one doesn't pursue the do-it-yourself route. Technically, all that one does have to purchase for a Circa (or Rollabind) system are the cheap rings and the medium-priced punch. With that, one can make covers, binders, forms, inserts, and all the other gear needed, as long as you possess a bit of will-power and some degree of creativity. Of my seven Circa notebooks, only a couple are actually stock from Levenger -- the rest are homemade. Whether you'd rather spend the time, or the money, is a question best answered by your schedule and your pocketbook.

So, I've now spent a full six weeks on my Great Circa Experiment. Was it worth it? Will I continue to use the system? To both, an unequivocal yes. Between the D*I*Y Planner kits, the Circa gear, and a bit of elbow grease, I've achieved my own little Holy Grail: a system that's infinitely extensible in almost every way, and actually lets me use whatever sizes and forms are convenient. I'll be sticking with this for a long time to come.

Next up, the last of my Circa-related articles: a photo gallery of my current gear, and the various mods and setups. Whew.

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Another great article! Looking forward to the circa-pr0n next week...
my artwork


This is great, Doug. I've really enjoyed this series of articles. I came across this site as I was surfing for information on the Circa system, but I found a TON of useful ideas that I've already put to work.

Thank you so much for taking the time to put together such a thoughtful review-- and such a great site.


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

There are still 13 DayTimers on eBay


You can have an equivalent zippered cover for $15 delivered to your door

"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)

Circa to the rescue

I love the Circa (or rollabind) way of life. Great article, Doug.

I do wish that Levenger would see the light and produce top-bound reporter style hPDA covers... I really really wish they would...

Top-bound reporter style hPDA covers


We heard you [and several others] voice this idea a few months ago. ;)

Two weeks from today, we should have some tools available to help current hPDA users tweak their systems and also to introduce a variation of the format to a bigger audience.

I'd welcome any community feedback to keep the structure fresh and innovative once the product rolls out.


super sweet

That would be super sweet! When might we expect to see these items on the website?


No! Don't do that! Then I'll be tempted to switch to circa too!


The fact that a Levenger guy hangs out here and actually listens to customers just completely blows me away. If I wasn't a poor college student, I would buy so much stuff from you all...


Ryan is one of the first things I loved about Levenger... opinions, questions, and suggestions all taken to heart. I'm already crying myself to sleep from not having my own circa surplus... now I just need to get a second job so I can start collecting :D heheh.
my artwork

*nodnod* I've been watching


I've been watching over the course of about a month, before I registered, how a suggestion here would become a Flickr set showing mods and then suddenly show up in the Levenger catalog... Go Ryan! That impressed me into trying Leveger stuff more than any claims or reviews.

other suggestions Levenger is starting to implement

Earlier there was a discussion about the chief complaint about Levenger being the cost of shipping. Now there is free shipping on all Circa products until May 13th. I'm not sure if that is a promotion they would've done anyway or Levenger checking to see how much of a difference shipping really makes. Either way, it's an offer I plan on taking advantage of and a trend I hope continues.


Peer Production


Thanks for the encouragement.

The collaborative brainstorming [ideation] within the DiyPc community has been stellar. Levenger learns a great deal from this interaction, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to co-create with everyone.


An interesting thing happened over the last few months.

In my last 'report from the blogosphere' at headquarters, I spoke to a broader group of our managers about 'hacking vs. cracking' and the creative talent that lies within DIY communities. Like one big 'Show & Tell' I pulled out a hacked CircaPDA full of official DiyPc forms and Matt's hipster satellites, a "nano PDA" full of business cards, and a junior notebook full of Bill's Recipe Jotter pages. Using DiyPc members by name and state, and detailing the projects they were working on, I noticed a stunning irony.

Instead of a shirt and tie, it would have been more appropriate had I presented in an official DiyPc T-Shirt designed by our resident artist. ;)


Building interactive opportunities for customer control over the products and services we should offer is what I hope to be just the beginning of an experiment in open innovation. Discussions of issues like shipping (work in progress, but there now is at least the choice of Smartpost vs. FedEx ground as a result of everyone's input) are essential to address before we can fully take advantage of peer production, and explore new methods for adding back to the community. Much of the direction this takes is in your hands, so keep me informed of any new ideas that are in their incubation stages. I'm open to all manner of feedback. ryan.rasmussen[at]

Thank you,

Levenger's shipping

I saw your post that the Levenger Guy hangs out here. Levenger has some of the best products I have seen anywhere. Definitely Top Flight. I am always tempted and place an order with them & then it hits me. The dreaded shipping. With the best products, 2nd to none, why is their shipping so expensive and takes so long.

I have ordered via ground several times and never received a package before 2 weeks time & I live in Florida about 3 hours drive from their Del Ray office. When I have ordered via overnight that was 3 days. On some products the shipping has been more expensive than the item being shipped. I could receive packages faster if they were shipped via regular mail versus the venue of Fedex Smartpost they now engage.

If the Levenger Guy has any influence in providing input to the powers that be it would be greatly appreciated to explore a better shipping venue for your products. Levenger Guy, I greatly appreciate your assistance with this.


I am with you, Lee. I LOVE Levenger products, esp. the Circa system. But shipping charges are really high. My last order was for three little circa books -- $9.00 USPS and took about 10 days to arrive. Sure is tough on a schoolteacher's paycheck. I hope Steve hears this.

Oooh... ryan... you

Oooh... ryan... you tease.

You know i'm game for product testing of anything in my beloved hipster combo. :) not sure what it is about the index cards. but i loves em.

that and my letter sized and journal note sizes. yeah, after reading doug's 3rd article and seeing how his organization is similar to mine... i'm seeing a real potential to go Circa.


me too!

This series has really peaked my interest in Levenger products. I've been to the Levenger site, looked through the catalogue....and well, drooled :(
Another poor college student really want some Levenger gear!
(Doug mentioned green things [pen, pencil, and folio]...what about "green" with envy? ;)

I don't see the "soft colour

I don't see the "soft colour pocket dividers" on Levenger's site, although I bought the zip pocket several weeks ago that they are supposedly not selling yet according to the article. I would love to order the pocket dividers - does anyone have any more info on them? Thanks.

Soft colour pocket dividers


Unfortunately, they won't be visible on the website until ~2.26.07. They are in the stores if you're near to one. You can also order them by dialing the catalog call center and requesting product ADS3760 in letter, junior, compact, or 3x5.

(Sorry for the confusion)


Ryan - thanks very much,

Ryan - thanks very much, I'll wait until they appear online, there's no rush. The regular soft color dividers are a nice addition to my circa notebook, so it will be good to include a few of the matching dividers w/pockets for some extra storage.

I've also been checking for the vertical 3x5 dividers that you mentioned in another thread - any idea when they will be on the website? I've been using this box for my 3x5 storage and those will be a great addition:

I realize that those are also available via phone, but I've ordered enough stuff from Levenger recently that I can wait a few weeks. By the way, if the Franklin standup desk/bookstand ever goes on sale, feel free to let us know in advance :)



If you just want a stand to hold your 3x5's, you can just get a Book Hug. I use one, and it works wonderfully.

switching systems

I currently have three planners and multiple wirebound calendars... These articles are making it sound really tempting to jump over to a Circa based system. I bought one of those Rollabind notebooks to take the concept for a test drive. I've got it on my calendar - if I'm still using it next month, I'll buy a Circa.

After I bought the Rollabind, I found out that I might have been able to order one along with my file folders when I got my first batch of office supplies at my new job. I'm sure they wouldn't pay for the $100 leather notebook cover and a Circa punch, but a plain Circa notebook and a pack of address cards may be possible.


Great Article Doug, You have

Great Article Doug,
You have in essence hit on the perrennial problem, a layout that adddresses one's needs actual and perceived, a folder/system that allows one to carry the requisite paper to meet those needs, a folder/system that is small enough but not too small, light and flexible..............the near impossible balance.

I recently (for 2007) took up the Daytimer special offer of a 2007 Daily refill in a free(expensive binder) - good deal but it has proven a reminder that the daily approach usually means carrying weight and can generally be "detail/info" overkill. The weekly approach seems to suit me better and I am currently torn between the mix of Filofax Time management 2007 weekly refill coupled with several of your very good templates to fill in the blanks and add flexibility to a lightweight ring binder and the moleskine 2007 planner/diary (again weekly). The Filofax approach is ultimately the more flexible and adaptable being a ring binder but the Moleskine is a very good size, highly portable and gorgeously satisfying to write in - must be the paper quality -.
Here we are approaching March and I still can't resolve the issue........logic says Filofax and heart is inclined towards Moleskine.

Look forward to your further articles


About Junior size . . .

Is either the old-style or new-style Junior workable with A5 paper? I currently use an A5 Filofax and I'd like to know whether I'd be able to use half an A4 sheet with the Levenger system.


A5 should work...

Any paper size will work, but you might have to make your own covers.

"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)

Good point . . .

Would the covers fit, does anyone know? I don't want to get one of the leather jackets if the pages are going to stick out.

Thanks, ygor.


OK, referencing several other threads...
Page Names and Sizes
Paper size (From Wikipedia)

A5: 148 mm × 210 mm / 5.8 × 8.3
Statement/Classic: 140 mm × 216 mm / 5½ × 8½
Junior: 142.875 mm × 209.55 mm / 5-5/8 × 8-1/4

It looks like it might be a bit tall ( 5.175 mm to be precise )
Anyone out there with an appropriate Levenger jacket want to comment first-hand on this ?

"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)


Hey guys quick question. I just received my rolla notebook from Staples. Its nice but the rings are quite low quality. One was even cracked when it arrived and the pages are hard to turn.

Are the Levenger notebook rings any different?

Ring quality


Levenger rings are made from the same plastic, basically, but the attention to details like mold marks and flash and textures is better.

The pages may be hard to turn because the paper holes were not cut quite large enough, or because the mold marks are too big. If it's the paper, an X-acto knife may address the problem by widening the 'stem' of the mushroom-shaped hole. If you think it's the mold marks, feel around the outside edge of the ring for a small bump, then file or scrape it off.


levenger pages are punched more accurately

take apart a rolla notebook and look at how the punches line up. then look at how punches line up in a circa notebook. (i've looked at 2 of each).

the rolla punches don't line up vertically - highest to lowest by more than the width of a slot, whereas the circa pages are punched to a much tighter tolerance.

the rolla punches also seemed to damage (bend) the paper more, possibly they weren't as sharp?

Rollabind vs. Levenger disks

You might be able to get a refund for the disk being cracked. That's awful! I've got both a Rollabind notebook from Staples and a Cira from Levenger. The Rollabind pages do seem harder to turn. The disks in the Rollabind notebook are painted silver and the paint started scratching and looking scruffy within the first couple days I had it. I think the Rollabind rings are thicker but have deeper grooves for the pages to turn on - and the grooves are in both sides. My guess is the pages get stuck in the grooves and that is what makes it harder to turn.

The Circa rings seem thinner, the grooves aren't as deep and and only one side of each disk has a groove in it. Also, I've had my Circa almost a week now, and the only visible sign of wear is a dent in one of the disks where it bumped into something in my backpack. Turning the pages in it is like using a good quality spiral-bound notebook.

Also, the paper in the Rollabind is listed as being 70 pound, while the Circa is only 60. The Circa has a better feel to it but they feel equally sturdy.

One more thing in Levenger's favor: they have stellar customer service. My experience of getting the Circa notebook inspired me to write a blog about my attempts to be more organized. You won't believe how I got the Circa notebook.


Circa's rock!

I love my Circa! I started using them in grad school in 2000, and
still use the original set of plastic covers. I mostly use the letter size
since I'm either printing technical articles or source code (2 pages per side)
Tho I'm a software engineer, I can't think without a pen and paper LOL.

I also have the kidney shaped lap desk. It's absolutely wonderful! I do
a lot of my work in a club chair, with my laptop and pad of paper handy.

I just wish I had more money to spend at Levengers :)


Next Circa article

As you've probably guessed by the site downtime and my most recent post (the one about the hamster), I've experienced quite a few technical difficulties as of late, including some sort of corruption of my memory card I used to photograph my gear, a camera that no longer likes to focus, and a USB card reader that doesn't want to work with my older laptop (now that my regular computer has bit the dust). *sigh* Next week, I hope....

all my best,

Thanks for the great Circa

Thanks for the great Circa reviews and this interesting Circa Planner "test". I am loving it.

You mention that you'd be soon uploading some pics of the kit you are now using. Really looking forward to seeing that...

Keep up the great work.


What a wonderful and detailed article! It was so helpful to me. I love my Moleskine, but I need more flexibility. I bought a Rolla notebook last night from Staples and a bunch of accessories from Levenger today. Can't wait to set it all up.

Circa Pr0n?

Greetings, Circa-philes!

With all of the site updates and changes recently, I was wondering if I missed the post Doug teased at the end of this article:

Next up, the last of my Circa-related articles: a photo gallery of my current gear, and the various mods and setups. Whew.

I'm looking forward to seeing the pics!!


while you're waiting...

Until Doug gets pictures of his setup posted, you can check out the Circa/Rollabind group over at There's also a similar group on squidoo - a kind of aggregator of blogs and social networks. Sorry, I don't have that link :-(



Thanks for the link! I'm in the DIY Planner group, but never knew of the Circa Rolla group. Now I'm going to have to join!



I think a lot of people in DIY Planner flickr group are also in the Circa Rolla group. Not sure how that happened ;-)

Now I'm going to step into dangerous waters here... You can waste SOOOO much time checking out the groups that people in a flickr group are in (hope that made sense!) If you want to feed the obsession, you could check out Do It Yourself Planner (different from or Office Porn: the group that is Safe For Work. LOL!


Circa - free shipping!

I just found out Levenger is offering free shipping on all Circa products through May 13!!!

Where are the pictures at?

Ummm..... it's been almost 3 months now since this post and STILL no pictures of your Circa setup Doug!
I was looking forward to that post!

Flickr Pix

Heh, you're right. But suddenly it seemed like less of a priority once the Flickr group was created and hundreds of pictures (many with Circa) were posted. Nonetheless, I should get around to doing that in the near future.

all my best,

Good point. I just had that

Good point. I just had that post on my Waiting For list :)

Any issues with Circa notebook weight?

I have two junior starter kits, and two letter-size starter kits. I have them set up with one-inch rings, and they're heavy. It's just the plastic covers, no leather folios etc. Has anyone else noticed the weight of the notebooks--mine seem really heavy, so much so that I'm taking them out of my tote bag because I hate carrying the weight around. I'd like to be able to carry one junior and two letter size notebooks with me all the time, but I'm taking the letter size ones out and leaving them in the car.

I'm just wondering if anyone else has noticed this issue, and if you're using your notebooks at home or office rather than carrying them around. I have to admit I have mine stuffed full of pages and plastic slash pockets, so no wonder they're heavy. But I didn't expect them to be that heavy.

Maybe carry less?

The one-inch rings hold a LOT of paper. You might want to try the smaller ones and carry less with you. That's one reason I love my PDA - I can carry reference material with me (contacts, etc.) without the weight. I do carry the zipper Circa letter size, but that's for when I'm doing research or going somewhere with a specific task. I carry them in a tote or a backpack, again depending on where I'm going. For everyday carting around, the junior size seems fine for me. I don't carry them all all the time.

(Note that I don't have a traditional day-job, so I can't speak to that.)

junior size notebook weight

I have a letter size sample pack but found it too big to use comfortably on my desk or carry it around on a regular basis.

I use a Junior size with one inch rings as my primary planner and have it in a Classic size Dayrunner binders. It's stuffed pretty full, but doesn't seem all that heavy.

I only keep notes for active projects, important phone numbers, monthly calendars for the rest of the year, and weekly calendars for the next two months in there. Everything else comes out of that notebook and goes into other notebooks as I'm finished with them. I have one for work projects at work, and one at home I use as a journal.

All that being said, you'll probably just want to cut back how much paper you're carrying with you. Either have thinner notebooks or less of them. I'm not sure why you need three notebooks. You'll probably just have to try a couple things out and see what works for you.


take only what you need

I constantly try to carry just a bit more than I possibly can. I've found one of the great things about the Circa is that it is all interchangeable and movable. Although I do have a notebook for each project, I only carry around one. I just move the papers, forms, and lists that I need (usually during my planning session) to my carry-around-circa. Then I can move back that stuff, and anything else I create, when I get home. If I think I might need the whole project notebook, I ether carry that one too, or leave it in the car. At least, that is the plan. When part of my brain isn't looking, the other part is filling up my backpack with every scrap of paper and every notebook within reach. Then it adds in pens, staplers, hole punches, glue sticks, pencils, card-stock, circa punches, erasers, water bottles, and post it flags. About once a week I'll lift up the backpack I carry around (in addition to my purse) and not be able to get it up high enough to put it on my shoulder. I don't know how it gets so full so fast any more than I understand how I get piles of stuff over every flat surface I get near. In any case, don't be afraid to mix and match the pages of your circa notebooks so you don't break your bag or you back.

When will Junior = Classic size at Levenger?

Doug mentions that Levenger is slowly transitioning their Junior Circa over to standard Classic paper sizes. I've noticed on their web site that the tab dividers are now out for the Classic size.

I don't, however, see the paper refills available in Classic size. Does anyone know when they are supposed to be available?

Junior -> Classic : Circa


In addition to the tabs, the new Circa assist pages [To-Do, Address book, etc.] have arrived. The classic-sized paper refills are forthcoming.

We expect that by the end of the year, 90% of the junior products will be in the standard, classic size. It is a gradual process, but it should really expand the flexibility of the size.


PDA Pocket Dividers, too

"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)

Circa alpha-tabs

one of the only downsides of the current Circa system is that there are currently no A-Z tabs. I'm told they're coming,

They have arrived.
Link to photograph


Circa Micro-PDA, too

I was just at Tysons and saw the business card sized micro-PDA's
Very nice.
How about pockets for the PDA size ?
"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 Pockets


How about pockets for the PDA size

When you first mentioned this component, I visualized a modified slash pocket divider. (rotate the a perforated margin on the 5" side of our existing product to the 3" side.)

I am now compelled by the idea of a circa-fied baseball card sleeve, or miniature page protector to reduce the bulk of the component. I would be happy to collaborate on the design with you in a new topic.


Done !!

Over here
"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)