thinking about switching planner sizes, again

I've been using a Classic/Junior size planner for a while. I've read multiple suggestions of keeping your stuff in electronic format and then printing out stuff you need to take with you. The thing is anything except for letter size, you have to worry about messing with different page sizes.

My first planner was a "Monarch" - letter size FC planner. It was huge! It was like carrying around a big blue brick. That's why I switched to Classic. I'm thinking if I had a thinner letter size Circa notebook and just toss in the pages I need, it may work out well.

The other idea I'm thinking of - maybe I could keep my Junior size "take it everywhere" Circa notebook/planner. Then I could use a letter size notebook at home and one at work.

Ideas? Suggestions?


Syndicate content

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Blind Leading the Blind

I find it humorous that you would come to us for advice, as it seems we're all similarly afflicted. Today I placed an order with FC for a full year's worth of Classic sized pages for 2008. Talk about optimism! A full year!! I'm also going to be purchasing a ream of card stock to print out some notecards. Hmmmm....that Moleskine over there sure looks intriguing. Maybe I should.....


Different sizes


On the subject of different page sizes, you either get used to the process of dealing with them, or you don't.

Personally, I have no trouble switching between sizes now that I have a lightweight paper cutter, a printer close by, and page definitions in my print drivers and software. I don't even have to think about it, really, it's become very automatic now that I've messed with different sizes for a year.

I'm changing sizes again too, I'm back to 3x5. I had an epiphany yesterday about paper. I *Like* my personal forms, I like having stuff preprinted. But no matter how I set my printer, ordinary index cards just don't take my laser toner very well. And they're thick and heavy, which is OK if you're going to carry them around, but not really needed if they reside on your desk all the time. I was debating buying plain white index cards so I could print my own lines on them, but I'm back to the 'they don't take toner well' problem. So the epiphany was that I could cut my favorite paper down (28lb super white) to 3x5 and use that instead of ordinary index cards. Duh!

I'm cutting my scratch paper to a new size too--8.5 x 5 instead of straight classic--so I can fold it easily in thirds and stuff that in the index card box too.

My thought on Monarch is that carrying a quarter-ream of paper around is going to be heavy no matter what kind of binding you put it in. The weight of the paper by itself is daunting, and the size is awkward for me. On the other hand, 3x5 is rather small for taking notes in meetings and the like, and a card file box is not as portable as a binder of any size.

What you really have to come to grips with is a set of questions whose answers are unique to your situation:
- Are you carrying your stuff from place to place often?
- Do you have equipment to cut paper reliably and quickly and with good clean results?
- How much of the paper in your existing planner do you actually write on?
- How much extra paper do you stuff into your planner while running around?
- Would you stuff your planner into another container if it were small enough (man bag, purse, briefcase) or do you not carry other containers?
- Do you like electronic (when you're not worried about printing)?
- How much fussing with the tool are you willing to put up with?

There are many other questions that apply, of course, like budget and image and your DIY-ness in general, but you get the idea.

Fit the system to your needs, don't try to adapt to a system you think you *should* use.

You know, I think I'll make some 7-up daily tabs for my box instead of the 5-up I bought. That would help me a lot.

Good stuff there!

And I especially like this:

I'm cutting my scratch paper to a new size too--8.5 x 5 instead of straight classic--so I can fold it easily in thirds and stuff that in the index card box too.

I need to remember that my next stint in the US, when I'll be forced, once again, to use US Letter-sized paper. I have been wondering what I would do, when forced to use the irregular US sizes, but this trick just might save me. ;-) (BTW, in the ISO A-sizes, Each size is simply the next larger size folded in half--so my current HPDA-A7 sized, is simply A5 folded in half twice, which allows me to fold larger sheets down to fit in the binder clip.)




Well, folding an 8.5 sheet in thirds doesn't really net you 3" tall, but it gives me a little slush so I don't have to be finicky. I just don't want my notes to stick up past my tabs and obscure them.

It's that pesky half inch that makes the difference in my index card box. I think an extra quarter inch would fit, but not a half.

You *can* fold a letter size sheet down to fit into a 3x5 card box, but eighths are bulky and smaller than a 3x5 in both directions. Thirds are more difficult to eyeball, but it's much less bulky in the box.


Never left letter

I started my planner obsession with an FC Classic binder. Moved onto the monarch/letter size when I got tired of folding my meeting notices, notes, etc in half to put into the binder (which makes it even more bulky). I'm now on the letter-sized circa -- which is perfect. If I choose, I can use junior/classic sized pages and drop into the appropriate letter-sized notebook when needed. My home to-do's are on 3x5 or 4x6 index cards and can be inserted into the larger planner when I try to sneak some "home" needs in during the work day.

I've found that it's not about how much I use of each piece of letter-sized paper. Since writing and planning for me is such a tactile experience, it's knowing I have the whole span of the page to glide my hand and my pen that makes it pleasing (and not trying to 'smoosh' all of my rambling thoughts onto a smaller piece of paper). I'm also very good at distracting myself from the "real" work at hand -- cutting and sizing paper to fit in an odd-sized planner so I can spend more time with my planning toys makes it even worse.

Just my 2 pennies worth,


I know that it's a well-played tune around here, but I am in love with disc binding, and would not consider going back to a FC system. Like you, I started with a Monarch planner, then shifted to Compact, and then to Pocket when a found a leather binder in a TJ Maxx. In between sizes I used various incarnations of whatever the latest Palm planner was. The Monarch was a boat anchor, the Compact was still thick and heavy, and the Pocket was too tiny for serious note taking (but was my favorite of all the paper sizes.)

Now I'm using a 5.5" x 8.5" Rolla-punched book, and I couldn't be happier.

The flip-around feature is very, very cool, although I find myself using it more on my home-made notepads and 3x5 stacks that I've put together. I only fold up my planner when I'm in a meeting and trying to jot notes. I like that I can use rings of a low enough profile that I can write right up next to them if I have to: using the FC or any sort of ring-binder always meant having an unused "gutter" of space near the rings where I could not write comfortably.

What really sealed the deal for me, though, was getting away from the one-page-per-day mindset of FC. I found myself wasting sheet after expensive sheet in the refills on days when I had little going on, and spilling over into extra sheets when I had copious note-taking issues. I switched over to using GTD's context-based lists in May, and am very pleased. Dead or inactive projects get moved out of my binder*, and a monthly calendar with notes on the back takes care of my appointment-keeping needs. I have a stack of punched scrap paper for random note capture stuck near the back.

My last-used FC binder is 1 1/2" thick when zippers shut. I followed the FC method of keeping three months in the planner, plus some tabs, but I omitted all the extra stuff I never used (Goals, Address Book, etc..) Of course, I was paying for those pages each year anyway...

My current Rolla-bound book is 1/2" thick, has more room to write on larger sheets, and only costs me a trip to the supply room when my paper runs low. I only chose Classic size because the math was easy -- whack a letter-size sheet in half, punch and you're done.

And for the record, the only thing I print out and insert into my planner are my monthly calendar pages. One thing I did take from FC was that your binder/planner is the Core, and everything else is ancillary. If I have a fact I need to remember, it goes in the planner first, not my PC. Meetings scheduled through email get copied to my calendar when I confirm them.

* That is, they would get pulled out if I bothered to. So far, I haven't needed to remove any pages for space, except for old months and the occasional scratch paper when it's filled up. I'm consuming far less paper now than I ever did in the FC days.

lots of ideas

Wow. Lots of replies and ideas to this one. Thanks everyone.

Bob - a full year of FC 2008 planning pages AND card stock AND a Moleskine? How are those going to work together? I just posted this looking to see if anyone tried any of these ideas.

shris - I think a big problem I have is I don't current have a paper cutter, so to get Classic size I fold letter size in half and cut the fold. It doesn't look very nice when I'm done. Around work and home I use my planner which I carry in my backpack to work. Outside of home and work, I just keep a wallet size Circa MicroPDA notebook. Anything I can fit in my backpack comfortably should work out fine. I've also considered carrying a Moleskine weekly + notes and a small handful of index cards and leaving the big planner at home. This kind of shoots the reason I was looking at a letter size planner to start with - the ability to just print something out, toss it in my planner, and take it with you.

Jenn - You're talking about exactly what I'm thinking. I don't want to mess with folding or cutting pages and I think I'd like having more room for writing. The big problem I had with letter size was the bulk. Less pages would probably take care of that. Also, a letter size Circa would mean I can start using the 3x5" Pocket DockIt :-)

Friend of Pens - when I first got a FC planner, I got the "Starter set". What I never could understand is why they include the 2 pages per day format in the starter set. If you're busy enough to need that, you probably already have a planner or are in the hospital for debilitating migraine headaches! I've come to really like 2 pages per week or better yet, one page per week on the left and one page of notes per week on the right (the Moleskine weekly + notes format). Daily planner pages end up being blank quite often, while I rarely have a week where I don't write something on the weekly pages. Some weeks those do end up being blank - when all I have planned is going to work. I wonder if letter size would have enough room to write all my stuff on a 2 pages per month?

Whatever I do end up going with, I do want to get a paper cutter so I can chop the 28 pound paper I have into 3x5" or 4x6" index cards. The regular cards don't take fountain pen ink well, and my printer can't print to 3x5".


Go big

Maybe i'm a little late for the discussion, but i'll put my two cents in anyway. I started off thinking smaller was better because of its portability. So i started off with A5 - way too small for me, but i was still not ready to move to an A4 Size which i suspect is my australian alternative to letter size. So, i went to b5. Because i created my own templates i could create them in b5. But i still had to print them onto A4 paper, cut them and bind them. I did do this for a long time, but got sick of the process. So, i went A4. There's no cutting, it's just print and bind. Better than that i can put other notes in as well without fiddling with reducing them on the printer.

I carry three months worth of schedules and projects around at a time and i don't find it too heavy.

Oh, and i agree about the planner pages. If your job is not primarily meeting with people, don't bother. I've shrunk my schedule on my daily page to less than a quarter. I still use one page per day, but i use it for next actions mostly.

trying letter size Circa

I decided to try out the letter size Circa notebook as a planner for a couple weeks. It is only slightly heavier than the Junior size one I have, and if I'm using it, I'm normally at a desk so size isn't an issue and plenty of writing space is nice.

There are only two things bugging me a bit so far. First - the Junior/Classic size seems to have become the standard size for planners. So many of the forms I just have to scale up the size and hope it doesn't look too bad.

The other issue - I keep my planner in my backpack most of the time. The rings sometimes get caught on the zipper when I put the notebook in my backpack or take it out. If I had a zipper binder or something along those lines (with a pen loop!) it would make life so much nicer. Does anyone know of a deal like this one for letter size planners?


Try a generic binder

I'm assuming from the deal you referenced that the levenger circa binders are a little out of your price range. I'd try looking for a generic binder that will let the back cover of your notebook slot in. The daytimer binders seem to be a little more expensive than $15.

Office depot has something that may work for you for about $27 here. It doesn't have a picture of the inside though, so I don't know if there will be a slot for you to put the back cover of the notebook in or not. Unfortunately, most of the binders I have seen are made to fit a top folding pad on the right hand side. If I were you, I'd go to a stationary store in person and have a look at some of the vinyl binders. There should be something cheap enough that will have a slot in the side.

Circa binders out of my price range

Yes, the letter size Circa binders are definitely out of my price range - even the new bookcloth notebooks. I'll be watching Ebay for deals. I'd say $30 is just about as high as I'm willing to go. Much higher and I'll just chop a stack of printer paper in half and print on that.

The problem I've noticed is that most binders already have the 3 (or more) rings in them and you can't remove them. The only ones without the rings I've seen are the folios, which are made to hold a legal pad on one side. If I could find a letter size binder with removable rings for a good price, I'd be all set. Sounds like I'm looking at a trip to Staples or OfficeMax to see what they've got. Nearest Office Depot is 40+ minute drive.



If you've got a Dremel tool, then getting those binders out is a very simple process. :-) If you don't have a Dremel tool, you ought to. Best all-around, most used tool I own...



you could take one of those folio's that only hold the legal pads and cut (use an xacto knife) a slit to hold the notebook... did that make sense? Just don't blend the new slit with the old slit otherwise you are making a big hole... I have done this in multiple folios before and it usually works quite well. the interior of folios are usually some type of nylon and that cuts well and doesn't tear...

just a thought,
nay nay

Office supply store


Go to your nearest office supply stores and look at every binder they have. Some of them have rings that are attached to a plastic card--and the plastic card is stuck into a pocket. I can't remember which brand, but I saw a couple of these at Staples a while back, classic size 7-ring or 3-ring types, I forget which. They're out there, you just have to look.

They come up on eBay occasionally as well--there was a big batch of like 20 of them over the summer that someone got all excited about and posted about here..



Hi Kenny --
I have my letter size circa in a cambridge executive refillable notebook cover. It's vinyl and ran me about $11 USD at my local office max. You can find it here. You can use disc size that usually comes with the levenger circa (3/4 inch?) easily. I currently use 1 inch discs, and it doesn't shut easily, but I need that size disc. The cover has a pen loop and a satin ribbon as a book mark. It also has a sleeve on the inside front cover for loose pages and a few slots for business cards. It's a good alternative until I can afford the levenger cover

exactly what I'm looking for

That looks like exactly what I'm looking for. I had checked at Staples and the only thing that was close to what I wanted was their spiral-bound planners. And the cheapest letter-size zipper binder one was $45 or so.

$11 is a much better price :-) I just don't want to jump on the leather Circa cover until I know for sure which size I want to use.


thanks for the tip

I dropped by the local OfficeMax today and picked up one of these. Absolutely the perfect size for a letter size Levenger Circa notebook with 3/4" discs. The pen loop is elastic big enough for most of the pens Id carry in there, and the ribbon bookmark is a nice addition.

The only thing I don't like about it: I really do prefer zipper binders so I can be sure nothing will fall out. But I keep it in my backpack most of the time so that's not a big deal. I'll just use it until I decide for sure if I want to stick with letter or Classic size and then buy a Levenger zipper folio in whichever size I decide to go with.


You're welcome!

I posted on another topic that I've used girls elastic ponytail holders and headbands to close my circa notebooks. For the letter size one, I'm using a flat headband that's about 1/4-1/2 inch in width. It's got rubber grips so that it is non-slip and comes in lots of colors. The ones I have are made by Goody. That may help you keep items from falling out until you're able to decide on the right size for you.