Circa vs. the contenders and pretenders, devil's advocate question ...

i've been tooling/fooling with GTD in the hipster PDA format and believe that i'm going to be better off with larger paper size for some of my stuff. so i'm looking at options.

lots of praise here for circa, but i've also come across some complaints about turning the pages smoothly, getting the holes sized right, fine tuning the discs, etc.

so i'm wondering about the advantage of circa (for a single notebook) over a ring type binder like the daytimer. both allow moving the pages around easily (i think). the circa can fold back on itself if you don't have it in one of the leather folio thingies, which has appeal -- but is there any other advantage i'm missing?


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good question

This is a very good question Tom. Like any system, the Circa has some advantages and disadvantages, some minor, some major. The best thing to do is read up on the options, try some stuff out and figure out what works best for you.

I'll be a party-pooper and start with the downsides of Circa - #1 is the initial price. You will either have to buy a notebook or the discs, covers, and paper. If you think the paper is expensive and want to use your own or add anything to the notebook, you'll need to buy the hole punch. The best price on the punches I've seen is $25 for the portable and $43 on desktop if you get them on sale. Also, the nice leather notebooks can be really pricey, but you'll have that with any planners.

Another disadvantage is the larger rings can make the pages a little hard to turn. If you stick with the smaller rings (3/4" seems to be about the cutoff) unless you need the bigger ones, you should be able to avoid this issue.

Now we get to the advantages: the ability to foldover is very nice, and you can take the notebook by itself. No bulky binder required. The advantage I like best is the ability to mix n match pages from different size notebooks in one. The punches are equally spaced, no matter what size you are using so you can use any size paper in any bigger size notebook. Carry a pack of Circa-punched 3x5 cards and then use them in the letter size notebooks if you like.

Also, if you change planner sizes, ever, the Circa just about pays for itself. Look at the price of a nice binder, pages, hole punch, and all the accessories for *any* of the nicer planner systems like Franklin Covey or Daytimer. It adds up QUICK. With Circa, if you invest in the hole punch up front, all you need to switch sizes are notebook covers and some extra discs. Maybe a couple accessories, depending on what you use.

My advice to anyone who is interested in trying out a Circa or Rollabind system: either check out a sample notebook from or if you live near a Levenger retail store or Staples store - drop in and check it out for yourself. Given the price of the nicer leather folios and binders, paper and punches, I recommend not sinking much money into the system without trying it out to see if it is something that works for you.


great info

kenny that is very helpful. somehow the hole spacing in a switch to a different size planner just wasn't clicking with me until i read your post -- now i get it.

i'll look again at staples, but last time i was there i didn't find any circa/rollabind. i may go ahead and bite the levenger bullet. they have a liberal return policy although the rental fee (aka shipping charges) are going to hurt me.

the availability of online information is wonderful, but there really is a lot to gain by having some hands on.

thanks again!

stock may vary store to store

I'm guessing Staples' stock may vary from store to store. You may want to call the stores nearest you to see if they have any hidden away. The one nearest to where I work has a display stand out in middle of an aisle with Rollabind notebooks and refills. The one nearest my house has an aisle full of spiral bound notebooks and the Rollabind notebooks & refills are stuck in about 2 feet of shelf space at the very end.

You may also want to check out my flickr account or the Rollabind/Circa flickr group

You still can't beat having a hands-on experience though.