Giving up Circa

If I give up on Circa/disc binding, do I have to give up my DIYPlanner membership?


Levity aside, have any of you tried using Circa because it looks so seductive, then realized that it just wasn't meshing for you? I don't know if I'm quite ready to put my gear on the bazaar, but the punch sitting in its box in my floor looks so lonely.

My most recent endeavor was top-bound 3x5. I had been using the index cards in a pocket protector but found that I didn't like writing on them in the PDA format because I never could find the one card out of 25 or so that I needed. I could use it for an inbox, but then I'm left with carrying that plus something else.

Summer is coming on and I find that I have too many things in my pockets. As a woman, you'd think I could just toss the extras in my purse -- I hate carrying a purse. When I'm ready to go, I'm ready to go. And if I can leave anything behind, like my son's diaper bag that lives mostly in the truck, I will.

Rolla paper pops out of rolla bookcloth and circa. Circa paper is expensive but the DIY route didn't work too well either. Cutting is laborious, plus it bothered me that the plastic tabs of my sections stuck out past the edges of my junior cover.

I might try again -- bring everything to work and use it for my project tracking, though I'm leaning toward 4x6 index cards for that. The 3x5s were a good start, just not enough room.

I don't know -- I guess I'm just wondering if I'm alone in feeling like the system isn't all that its cracked up to be. Like writing in a moleskine pocket cahier -- it should work, but everything looks so junky in there.

Syndicate content

Comment viewing options

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

It's about what works for you

I don't think you need to give up your DIY membership. I've read other threads in which members think we're too circa-focused here. I think what matters most is that this community shares a common love of pen and paper and planning. Just cuz Circa doesn't work for you doesn't mean you get kicked off the island. You never know...some of us might just give up on it, too. (Not yet for me, though. I'm still having too much fun obsessing over it.)

Planners, Organizers, Circa, oh my!

Just thought I'd add my 2 cents worth to the thread.... In a closet I have a bookshelf that is full of organizers - Franklin Covey, Daytimers, and so on. I also have three ring binders, notebook paper and a number of planner pages that just didn't work. I haven't decided which, if any, are headed to freecycle or to friends/family and that shelf is pretty far down the declutter (aka spring cleaning) list.

So far, Circa has worked for me. I like the flexibility and invested in the hole punch, and spent way too much on covers on ebay ;).

Just a quick note - if you put scotch tape over the edge of the paper front & back and re-punch, it will keep the edges from bending. True, you have to take a little time to make sure the edge is correctly aligned, but it is worth it.

I also love moleskins - especially in a situation where I may have to (or want to) keep the notes for a while.

Some ideas for templates that I may be working on are:

Pantry inventory
Household supplies inventory, etc.

In my latest spring cleaning, I've found that we have several duplicates of certain items and end up running out of others. I would like to get a quick checklist that I could run through the night before I go grocery shopping to make sure I only buy what we really need and not have items go bad...

Any ideas?

Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much!

ditto what Jwhitt said

Whatever works for you

I'm pretty far along in the circa experiment. But, I haven't bought a dedicated leather covered circa-something for work planner yet. And, I haven't listed my Franklin Covey binder or special punches on the Bazaar yet either. Like many here, I seem to be continually tweaking my forms, my binders, my jotters.... Moreso when jobs and organization needs change, but at a lower level sort of an ongoing slow modification.

I hear you about not wanting to carry a purse! And previously, the pocketmod system worked for me, as did the micro-pda format which is kept in my wallet. But now that my eyes are rebelling at reading such tiny writing, I'm re-thinking the ultra-small ultra portable. Much as I hate to do it, my wallet will soon have to stop being my planner.

Sometimes I think if I ever did actually find the 'perfect' system, I'd still want to tweak it to make it perfect-er


I hear you loud and clear

"Sometimes I think if I ever did actually find the 'perfect' system, I'd still want to tweak it to make it perfect-er."

I've been tweaking, tweaking, tweaking, and I'm not sure what I'm looking for. Yesterday I threw up my hands and decided that I've had enough. Recently I posted that I need to let the perfect planner find me, but I haven't truly tried to let go and let it happen. I'm ready now (frustrated is a better word).

Back to the topic at hand.

I love the Circa system and will continue to use it as long as it works for me. I consider myself a basic user (just disks and a punch) and don't intend to change that.

Finding what works and what doesn't is part of the DIY experience.

Agreed ( Circa != DIYPlanner )

While there are lots of Circa-fied DIY-Planners, it is not universal.
Like dieting, you have to find what works for you and then go with it.
I know my dynamic templates will be of use to anyone, Circa-fied or not.

Just let us know if/when you plan to dump all your goodie in the Bazaar.
"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)

Gave up Circa as well!

I have given up Circa as well. For whatever reason, the discs seem just as bulky as 3-ring binders. And, if you don't buy thicker paper, the paper just doesn't stay on the discs. I also tried a 3-disc pda, but I couldn't get that to work for me either. I have moved to a plain old 3X5 memo notebook (Spiral on the 3" top). Works great!

This site wasn't always so "circa-fied", but lately it has become that. It is hard to find new ideas/posts here that have to do with anything besides Circa. So, if you have some non-circa ideas - please share them! :) Looking forward to it!


I've pretty well found that circa is only for pre-printed things for me, as of now. That may change. It's great for my calendar and I'm already working on next year's. It's worked great for Sunday School notes (if I type them) and sermon notes, which I always type. I just don't write in them too often. Not sure why. But the curious discs have some place with me.

-- Coffee and Books, the pleasures of life

Eh, some


I have found that some of the purposes to which I was going to put Circa are not really good for it. Kid art doesn't work that great for Circa, the construction paper is too fragile. The kids want to look through their books and end up destroying the smurf-edges in their zeal.

I still like it for small notebooks, though. I find it less bulky than a binder for the small stuff, and it's good for the little notebooks I like to carry. I don't use it for my back-pocket jotter, though. I like the shirt pocket briefcase for that.

Anyway, yes, it's kinda less cool to me now that I thoroughly understand the limitations. Doesn't make me go back to ring binding, though. I just find that I'm scanning kid art, using unpunched 3x5s for jotting, and using the discs to bind small, frequently used personal stuff in DIY notebooks.

Not sure exactly how I'm going to use all the discs up that I bought. The kids like to play with them, maybe I'll drill holes in them and make them into kid beads until I come up with a use for more of them. :)


Kid art

Anything I punch for the kiddies gets a reinforcing strip of clear packing tape down the edge first (folded around the paper edge.) This makes a HUGE difference, and is much like the reinforcement strips sold by Levenger. Any tape will probably work, but packing tape is nice, tough stuff that's still thin enough to punch without gunking up the punch.

Construction paper is pretty cheaply-made stuff anyway. I will occasionally pick up a multi-color ream of card or cover stock paper from Staples, which the kids use to make birthday cards for parties. That stuff holds up much better to punching, and also to heavy magic-marker and watercolor painting, when the kids are feeling mixed media-ish.

Gave up circa

I tried, and tried, and tried to incorporate Circa. I have several sizes, the desk punch, etc. I even bought their 2008 Calendar on sale thinking that was the solution. In the end, I'm back to a $6 Mead 5 Star notebook. I think the main reason for me is that in my head the Circa was too "nice", and I wasn't using it enough. I need a notebook that can get down and dirty and I don't worry about tossing in a bag.

I realize that it's 95% mental (and my ADD), and not a knock on Circa products. Just for me, it didn't work.

Actually in answer to...

"If I give up on Circa/disc binding, do I have to give up my DIYPlanner membership?"

I'm of the opinion that it's the other way around.
If you give up on DIYing and give into buying Circa then you should consider giving up your DIY Planner membership. ;)

But then everyone knows that I'm an Dedicated Hater of all things circa :)

Seriously, although we all enjoy stationery and paper and pens, discussing addictions to a particular type of commercial binding tool is not what DIY Planner was set up to do.

It's great that a lot of people like the Circa systems. If that's what you like to use to do your planning and journalling then it's nice that you've found something you like. And of course you can discuss it.

But DIY Planner is bigger than just circa/levenger and sometimes that gets a bit lost in the forums.
It is refreshing to see some circa-isn't-everything discussions here.

Means, not an end

Heh. I think the appeal of disc-binding is that for a smallish investment up-front, you're free to DIY your own systems. I like hPDAs, but want the cards held together by something more permanent than a binder clip. Book rings I find messy, and I tend to pinch my fingers on them. Paper weight is certainly a limiting factor, but any decent office supply store sells paper in weights other than 20#, and for the truly budget-pinched, 4x6" index cards can be had at my local dollar store, and probably yours as well...

What I find addictive is that its a very empowering system, to roll out a cliche. I can make professional-looking products on the cheap that meet my exact needs by using the DIY templates here, and can rip out/reorganize to my heart's content, without the space and foldover issues of 3-ring binders. Disc binding hit so many positive points with me, it's hard not to talk about it.

That said, with my planner set up, I need to talk about it very little now. I made the switch from a real commercial setup over a year ago now, and haven't looked back. It's that handy for me.


I don't have a lot of money to spend on premade Circa stuff. I picked up a Rollabind portable punch on sale last year, and in December I bought a bunch of the marked down $2.97 Circa agendas in different sizes so that I'd have cover material. Add in some cheap discs from MC2Office, and I can make any notebook I like in any size. Love it. I make notebooks for friends, too, from my existing supplies.

No one system works well for everyone. But Circa can definitely be as DIY as anything.


I suppose my main complaint with circa and levenger discussions here is really a symptom of battle fatigue.

Since DIY Planner's forums became a "I love Levenger so much I want to have the managing director's babies" pron site I've been battling to ignore all that.

Perhaps I'm a luddite or just a prejudgiced old cat, but I liked the discussions about what planning and journalling meant to people using a shoelace and a handful of scrap paper to making their planner.

Or perhaps it's my own fault and I should have given up on this site a long time ago

I Agree Katrina...

I found myself quite bored with the site when it became 90% all Circa discussions, but for whatever reason, I still had to check the site everyday - HOPING someone wanted to talk about something other than their Circa notebook. So, I guess I am addicted to the site, but haven't found much inspiration here for quite a while...

Let's start talking about other stuff again! :)

Sorry all

I really shouldn't have indulged myself in a tantrum. It was selfish and childish of me and I apologise.

It is good to see the forum discussing things outside of Circa/Levenger more. Shall we start a few more?


Exchanging Ideas

As tantrums go, that was pretty mild. :)

Kudos to everyone for keeping the conversation civil. There are many good viewpoints expressed here, and I've got mine as well.

I read everything I can find in this forum, and follow many of the links as well, because I've found it to be a high signal-to-noise ratio. I also ignore most of the specific formats used, and instead concentrate on the concepts and structure provided by the various templates and processes that everyone uses. If something looks like it'll help me in my specific situation, then I'll adapt it as needed to match my style.

I don't want to walk a mile in your shoes, but I might get a pair of your snazzy shoelaces if they'll work better than what I'm using now.

If all you buy are

If all you buy are pre-punched forms, then obviously that's the case. If you buy the punch and disks, you can print and make whatever you want, with all kinds of different sizes. That's about as diy as anything, unless you want to handstitch your own bindings.
I haven't even tried circa yet, and this is obvious. Why do you think there's so much discussion about it on here? Many, many more possibilities than a three-ring binder.

dunno 'bout discs being as diy as you can get

In a pinch, I've standard three hole punched and used twist ties from bread, or a little better, plastic zip ties. Works fairly well, and adds virtually zero bulk. Not quite as polished looking, but...

Actually, I bet Artbeast could come up with a leather zip-tie system that would look beautiful.

hmmmm, I'm seeing lots of possiblities for that now that it popped to mind.


Right, yeah, that was

Right, yeah, that was exagerration. Point is, they're a very diy kind of product, especially in reference to diy planner being organized around diy forms, specifically. Circa doesn't force you into any particular system, and has a lot of room for variety and experimentation.

ahh sorry

I tend to have impaired exaggeration detectors. I'm far too literal.


Eh, it's the internet.

Eh, it's the internet.

Agree this isn't DIYCirca

I agree this isn't the Circa discussion list. I never took the circa plunge* - I still work well in my own system with 3 or 7-hole-punched classic size (a la Day Runner / Franklin Covey etc) with a combination of DIY printed pages from here, custom pages, purchased pages, and, well, just blank lined sheets. I have been stable with one system for quite a while now - after experimenting with satellite action cards, mixed 3x5 and classic planner, etc. I also started with using a lot of different templates all together, and I've been gradually weeding out and simplifying my system. It's been a good thing.

*Oh, okay, I did buy one circa and a few Myndology books as blank books for general notes - just to see what they're about. But I didn't drop down the big bucks and time investment for a punch etc.

Let me know if you do sell,

Let me know if you do sell, I have just gotten into the system myself. I think whether or not circa works for you depends on how you work. I find that for me it is an effective system for writing projects and translating projects. Someone who is looking for longterm storage, or not moving things around constantly may find it less than ideal. Much of the organizing bug, I find, is tactile- if it doesn't "feel" good to you, then it isn't good for you.


I also have become disenchanted with Circa - the leather folio colors are boring, and even though the zip folio fits a 1" disc, it warps sideways over time.

But today I got a blast from the past in the mail - a beautiful Filofax catalog on thick matte presentation paper. Oh, the colors, the soft, supple leathers, the sophisticated multi-language planners on cotton cream paper...

The 1980's are calling me ;-)

Crafty Pagan Computer Geek


Wow - that's what I call a response!

Circa just seemed so seductive to me. And it's certainly the most affordable product line in the Levenger catalog.

I feel like I'm making excuses for both my original purchase AND giving up. Like somehow I should have realized the problems beforehand or that I let my Levenger lust outweigh logic.

How could it not be great -- it's like a wire-bound notebook, so it folds over, and like a ring binder, everything can be moved around. *sigh*

No, Virginia, Circa doesn't solve the age-old problem of getting a fat man in a red suit inside a house that has no chimney.

I'm making incremental progress in finding something that works; mostly through process of elimination.

Thanks, everyone, for commiserating with me. If/when I decide to send my desk punch and rings and such along to someone else, I'll be sure and let everyone know. Heck, I'll probably throw in my rolla notebook, discs, and paper as well -- it'd make for a super try-it-out package.


Observation: Off-target

It sounds to me like you have not yet hit on a system that works for you. It sounds like you are putting too much attention into the tools while not putting enough attention into the system/process.

Once you develop a setup that works for your needs and lifestyle, the rest will fall into place. It does not matter if you bind with rings, discs, or whatever. That is a reasonably simple implementation detail.

Good luck in your journey toward organization.
"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)

Way OT: You've got the hammer

It almost goes without saying that I haven't figured out what would work for me -- except for Filofax and PlannerPad, I feel like I've tried just about every easily obtainable organizational tool. Easily obtainable = not excessively expensive, so most of the commercial offerings available via retail.

The one thing that is working is my work log -- Ampad wirebound project planner -- where I write down everything that happens as far as calls and to-dos and such. If everything on a sheet is completed, that page gets a big check mark in highlighter. Items get moved forward if they are "loose ends."

I don't have a contacts solution at work that functions as well as the job log, but that is mostly a function of not taking the time to catch up the info that I know I need -- I'm adding as I go instead.

As for calendaring and home stuff -- the last calendar I had that worked was a Moleskine week on the left, notes on the right. Can't buy another one right now, though they may have some 18-months out in July. There's a monthly calendar on the fridge for doctor appointments and kid commitments which mostly works.

I want to do something like flylady for our house -- there are so many routine items that we "keep meaning to" get to. I also want to do a better job of managing our finances. I want to finish _The Now Habit_ and continue working on de-cluttering our house (Peter Walsh's _It's All Too Much_).

And I'm starting to ramble off into the "land where nothing works." It just seems like more time would be spent organizing than doing if I had a weekly calendar (in whatever format), plus the fridge family calendar, plus a checkbook register and budget, plus the flylady to-dos; not to mention, I'm also trying a garden this year.

Index cards seem like they would work, but once they go into my purse, I may not look at them for a couple of days. And since not everything I own has a back pocket or even room in the front pocket (da*n women's clothes!)....

So, how do you combat
>out of sight, out of mind
>don't want to add to my every day carry load
>work outside the home
>husband with crazy schedule and two kids in daycare

Maybe I should just join a convent. Do nuns have to carry lots of things? The thought of being an old-fashioned, wear-the-same-outfit day in and day out sounds so peaceful!

Acceptance and flexibility

I totally resemble your post (but still on Circa). The things you have in your "combat" list are the things I struggle with daily. For me, it's a matter of accepting this crazy life I chose and understanding that I will not be at 100% for every one at all times. Planning and organizing get you ahead of the game, but there will *always* be something that either we can do better or just goes by the wayside because there just isn't enough time or enough of me to go around.

Having been taught by nuns for most of my childhood, I'd have to say you are better off where you are now. They may not have to worry about wardrobe issues, but they sure are cranky! :)

gimme_officesupplies, It

It doesn't sound like your gripe is specific to Circa. The real problem is simply finding the time to look at the system you have.

I love the idea of being able to take the pages from the smaller notebooks and put them in larger notebooks. However, this may be outweighed by the disadvantage of not being able to move multiple pages easily at the same time.

Ultimately for most people the biggest challenge with any system may be making sure it remains a means to an end ... and that it doesn't take on a life of its own as an endless means.

simple things

Hi everyone,

This is a very interesting subject, and appropriate for me at the moment. I see you are having some of the same problems I have thought about for a couple of days, so maybe you can use some of my ideas I am going to try.

And before I do that, let me say that I don't use circa either. I have a rollabind punch, and some discs, but I couldn't get into it. However, this does not mean that I am bored with the forum, am mad at people who like circa, or whatever. If someone, and that includes me, wants to talk about something other than circa, he or she should take initiative and start a topic about something else. Like this one.

I am spending way too much time looking at new tools, and thinking about them, how to use them, how not to spoil them etc. And it shows in my work output, and even on some days my sleep. Bad. I don't even like stationery stores and sites any more. So now I have decided the following:
1. I am going to stick with my filofax. I have a personal and a pocket sized one. I am currently using the personal, but I am allowed to switch between them, but then I have to stick with it for at least four weeks. This to avoid too much synchronizing.
2. I am going to use an A4 (standard size around here) pad, and use it for notes in meetings, writing out drafts, etc. Scrap paper for trying out math proofs (I am a researcher in maths) is allowed. If I want I can use my nice leather portfolio for this, great present but it is a bit large. I really need to try that out, if only to please my mother-in-law who gave it to me last christmas. Only I feel a bit masculine, or pretentious, using it since I am a 25 year-old girl.
3. I am going to use the pens and pencils I have, and not buy any more. Only new cartridges for my fountain pens are allowed if I use up the ones I have. No new notebooks either, only filofax refills if my current ones run out. But not sooner. New A4 pads if I need them are OK.
4. I am only going to look at philofaxy, diyplanner, lifehack, gtdinacademia and such once a day. After work at home, not at work.
5. I will use the pocket notebook I use now (moleskine blank) for notes and shopping lists, when I don't carry my binder, and for the occasional journal entry when I want to write out of the house. My main journal always stays at home.
6. I will not worry about using other notebooks for work, or even try it. I tried carrying one (large moleskine) for a few weeks, but didn't do anything with it. Apparently I don't need one. I will put the empty ones away, for future use or to give away.
7. I am going to stick with this for the rest of the academic year, or three months. Then I will evaluate it, and see if I need or want to change. I ask you all in this place to keep me accountable to it ;-)

I am a bit sad about putting away my larger moleskine notebook, but I had no use for it anyway. And I am very tempted to buy a moleskine 18-month diary, but I had one last year and didn't like it. I very much hope that this will give me more time, and more thought-room (don't know a good english word for it, not my first language) I can use for work. The money I will save might be spent on art supplies (the complete set of faber-castell polychromos.... expensive).
I hope starting afresh and simply will give me an idea if I need more, and if so what. And by the way, I really recommend filofax, the only thing you haven't tried.

it's a little of both, actually

The two issues are very intertwined for me at the moment. With the flexibility of Circa + DIY, I thought I'd found The Answer -- something flexible enough to let me do it my way, and something schweeeeet enough to make it enjoyable to keep up. Like finding the right pen to journal with -- if you don't like the medium, you just won't bother to do it.

My circa-specific gripes seem minor in some respects, but if I'm not using the tools I might as well give them up.

Circa advantages:
-- can move pages
-- can fold over
-- classic size + discs gives lots of papers for little heft

Circa disadvantages:
-- moving papers can cause smurf damage
-- folding over can lead to popouts if there either isn't enough paper holding the discs rigid or if you've punched sub-prime paper
-- purchasing either a smurfer or circa paper
-- agenda layout is the one layout guaranteed to not work for me , although I could go to dailies or DIY something. DIY would be a pain - unless there's been some additions, I'm not fond of the dynamic template options.
-- plastic tab dividers stick out past the covers - small but annoying when you want something neat. Could I trim the dividers? Make my own slightly larger covers? Yes, but why should I?
-- covers do not extend out far enough to enclose the sheet protectors (classic or junior). To me, a cover should COVER the whole thing.

So, no, I don't have a system that is working. Maybe part of my reason for posting about giving up circa is because I wanted it to work so badly.

? ? ? ? !

I'm not fond of the dynamic template options.

What suggestions do you have for change and improvement ? I am working on them.
"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)

Simplest one first

I haven't played with the dynamic templates since March -- there's a lot of water under the bridge since then, so I'll have to go back and refresh my memory to see if there is something else.

I'd like to see two page per week but all the days are on the left side and the right side is plain, probably with lines. Like the Moleskine 2 page per week w/notes page.

I don't have enough time-based appointments for the 2-ppw vertical with hours and even page-per-day or 2ppd seems like way too much paper.

DIY Moleskine-type planner

I like the feel and look of the Moleskine, but I can't stand the disorder and random bits I would stick in there. So I hunted in the templates section here and found exactly what I wanted.

I added in a section of 2-page per month, and printed the whole thing on half-sheets of a creamy-colored 24# stationery paper. A round corner punch from the craft store completed my planner.

Yes, it's in Circa, but by choice. I like the size and feel of the foldever notebook, and I carry it often and use it regularly. And I really only have to punch and work once a year to make it look nice. I punch when necessary to add info or papers to it.

I've returned to 3-ring binders for other things, though.


SIMPLE is my new way of thinking. With so many templates in my last planner, I was close to drawing a map so I knew where to find a specific note. So, you could try this...

Buy a Mean 3X5 notebook (Around$1).

On each page, draw or write out the week. There are 14 lines per page on mine, so you would have two lines per day. Here you write your appointments (Kids and Spouses too). The following pages, can be for your to-do list (for regular household items, try writing them down on the back of the weekly pages and check them off when done), your "want-to-do-sometime" project list, grocery list, and you could even put your budget in there. Now, you have everything in one place that is easily accessible and small to throw in your purse or pocket if you have one that day. I even carry mine in my back pocket when I am working in the yard so I can make notes of what I want to plant where (I forget ideas within about a minute!).

SIMPLIFY is my best suggestion! :)



I have done the SHE system for my house, and discovered that the whole thing was too much. I thought about Flylady and read all her stuff, but I can't stand the sticky sweet sentimentality that wraps around every part of what she does.

Just lately I was thinking about restarting SHE--but setting everything up to be actually HALF as often as I think it really ought to be done. Example: If the toilets need cleaning every week, put the reminder in there for every TWO weeks.

I was also thinking about going even less often than that, just for a slow ramp-up. Stuff might still need doing in between reminders, but it'd be less overwhelming.

But, as others have said, the real trick is looking at whatever you pick for your system. I liked an index card box a lot, but it wasn't portable, since it was 4x6x6..

Anyway, I'm in rebellion right now, I've gone back to a scratch pad and my outlook calendar for work stuff. I'm feeling lazy. :)


adapting Flylady

I use a highly modified Flylady system for household things. I, too, find the testimonials and endless product sales talk a bit much to take. I ignore all of those and just pay attention to the "it's time to do this task" stuff. I do spend an inordinate amount of time searching for the "perfect" tool for implementation but that's also part of the fun of playing with office supplies. I've done 3x5 cards, checklists with sheet protectors and wipe off pens, electronic to do lists in many software/online apps, etc. I've retyped the lists enough times I pretty much know them by heart so I probably don't need a list any more except I like the satisfaction of checking things off or crossing them out on a list.

Standard staples work well.

"It does not matter if you bind with rings, discs, or whatever."

So true. For a while I just used a staple in the corner of my 4 week planner. That's all I needed, and it was fine. Life was simpler then. :-)

Then I found DIY planner and discovered that I needed more. Wrong! Less. Wait! More. On second thought, less. Maybe . . . .


Plenty of other purposes

I've found that the Circa stuff - or any planner really - doesn't do it for me in the traditional planner functions.

That doesn't mean I haven't found a dozen uses for my Circa stuff though.

  • Ala David Allen, I use Circa for material I want to review later. I print out lots of stuff and throw it with a Post-it Tab into a letter sized Circa book that's easier to carry around or throw in a travel bag than a file folder. I sometimes put flimsy paper (magazine articles) in sheet protectors or slash pockets in the book, but most stuff is just punched and inserted.
  • Just today, I had an extra large document that I want to read and probably annotate and keep - so I printed it in booklet format, duplex, and then cut, smurfed and bound it in a junior sized Circa book.
  • My next favorite use is for when I'm travelling. I print out my itinerary and put it under a clear, letter-sized cover. Then I make sure I have some note paper and a couple of pouches for collecting travel related receipts and other stuff that pops up during travel. Plus another pocket for an "in box" while I'm on the road. I add in a printout from my calendar, my daily planning pages, printed agendas for meetings and any documents that might be pertinent to the purpose of the trip. Often I just add this to my "review" notebook, then clean it out again once I get home.
  • I keep a Circa PDA on my desk as an internet notebook for urls, passwords and whatever e-mail address I used to sign up for that particular account. I'm working on a template which I'll be happy to share, once I get it figured out.
  • My husband and I have become kayakers (my boat should arrive at the store next week, eeeeee!), and we keep a journal of our trips - we use a GPS and print out a map of our jaunt, plus maybe print out a photo or two of the many we take, the tide table from the day and jot some notes about the trip, weather, in-elegant wet-exits ... whatever. It stays in a magazine file with kayaking related catalogs or magazines we wish to keep.
  • One of the best uses, though, is for gift making. I made: a planner for a friend using Kmorris's idea for copper rings; a journal for my husband with custom pages related to what he wants to write; a USC Trojans themed planner for my impossible-to-buy-for great uncle-in-law.

Ok - so the planning? I use Outlook Calendar for work and sync it with my Google Calendar. I use multiple Google Calendars to keep track of personal appointments, bills, family events and other stuff. This has worked out better than I thought.

I found out about PowerSystems here at DIYP and ordered some of their forms. I've hacked up their system so it works for me. That doesn't get smurfed until the end of the day and I'm planning tomorrow. I put it in an archival notebook that I can go back and review if necessary. By the end of the day it's got 5 different highlighter colors on it and odd little notes. Helps if I forget to fill out my time-sheet for work (I'm salaried, but have to keep track of the time I spend on projects, administrative duties, meetings (30 hours this week!!!), etc. I am currently working on how to integrate/adapt the Data Dump from PowerSystems. It's one of the last steps in my task and time management systems. I keep both my omni-to-do-list/Data Dump and my daily planning pages in front of me on my desk. Oh, and I also keep a letter-sized pad on which I take notes during the day. Sometimes they're doodles, sometimes they're a decent record of what happened. Those get punched and tossed into the archive after the daily worksheet.

I then keep an assortment of work and personal project folders that have their own to-do lists. Those get reviewed as needed (many on a daily basis) for next action sort of things.

I also use magnets to attach 3x5 cards to a small whiteboard on my desk - those either have reminders (i.e. Personal Computer Time after 5:00 PM) or really important things I want to focus on today or this week. If they're time-sensitive/task related they also get punched and put in my archive.

It sounds sort of complicated, but it's really working well for me when I keep to it. It's a fairly simple system but, as all systems, requires some self-discipline to get started and make it a habit. (I took a week off recently, and was back far less productive!)

Once I realized I didn't really need a conventional planner (analog or digital) it became a lot easier. Liberating, even. Oddly, I still drool over planners (all the academic planners are out now!!!!), but I try to keep away from 'em. Even if they're pretty. (c:

I do carry 3x5 cards for thought capture, but that's the last piece of my puzzle that I really want to work with - the best capture method. I haven't found a 3x5 card case that satisfies me (I like the Levenger stuff, but so far all they have for 3x5 is leather, and I don't use leather).

Anyway ... another way of thinking about it. You don't have to give up Circa - you can find other uses for it, even if it doesn't fit your planning needs. And you don't have to keep it, either, if it doesn't suit you.

Google mail and Outlook question

Hi Tootru,

something you said caught my eye. that you use Google mail and sync with your Outlook. How do you do that? Do you pull Google calendar to your Outlook or vice versa? I would be interested in some technical coaching on that as I am always struggling with too many online calendars. three to be exact....ugh!

Any help you can give would be great!


Google Sync

I do a one-way sync from my work Outlook to my Google Calendar.

You can find out about it here:

You have options to do one-way or two-way syncs, depending on your mood.

It's occasionally spotty, but I find if I update an appointment and then run the sync again, it'll catch it.



Hi Tootru,

I downloaded it and it is currently syncing. This is cool. I have been wanting something like this for a long time. It will prevent me from having to log into my work e-mail all the time when I am home to see what I have going on the next day.

Thanks again!

Google Outlook sync

I do the two-way sync and it is a bit buggy. I occasionally find appt.s in there twice. But, I've never lost an appt. completely so duplicates are better than losses. I now have an Android and that syncs with Google calendar so that has worked out quite nicely for me. My 16yo daughter has the same phone so I set her up with a Google calendar as well and she is positively compulsive about entering her entire complex schedule on her electronic calendar. With the sync-ing I now have her calendar and mine on both our Androids, Google, and my work Outlook PC. I also have it on my ipod touch but with the smart phone don't need it there any more.

Love moleskin but carry Circa

The moleskine agenda (left page calendar, right page notes) is my favorite. But I carry a Circa that I've DIY'ed into that format. These days I need more note taking room than the Moleskin provides and I can insert blank pages as needed in the circa for a given week.

I miss the thin profile of moleskine, the circa disks tend to catch when I pull the notebook in and out of my laptop bag.

I'm still shopping for the "perfect" solution. I want a thin bound solution that is expandable. Does anyone else see the problem there? :-)

FWIW: I use a Notes document I made up for the agenda pages and ygor's Note dynamic page for the backside. I bought from circa the grid pages to use as inserts. I need to put together some code for 2009 so I don't need to format another year's pages. Or maybe ygor will have a one page agenda by then...

Playing with organizers again

I have pretty much relegated my circa binders to being project binders. I like it because I can put project notes, related research, business cards, etc. for a project into one circafied unit and have everything in one place. I do not use circa for my agenda though. At the beginning of the year I switched to a diy moleskine system for my calendar and notetaking in an attempt to keep notes and calendar in one place. At the end of each week I print from Outlook (where I keep all calendar and scheduling info) the next week's calendar in 1/4 page format. I run it through my Xyron and stick it onto the next free page in a gridded moleskine. (I also print the next few months as full-page, fold them, and tuck them into the back of the moleskine for reference). Then throughout the week I take all meeting notes, all phone call notes, etc. in that moleskine on the pages after the calendar. I can also adhere busines cards, small sketches, misc. stuff to the pages if I need to. This is wonderful for keeping a journal of what I do each day, the notes for each thing I do or meeting I attend, and finding my "to dos." Every time I get a new "to do" I write it down with a triangle in the margin so I can find it easily and check off the triangle when it is completed. I find this is not a great calendar for me though, the print out is too small for even the bottom section of my trifocals and I find I miss the ability to just flip to my monthly pages that I use to have in FC-style planner to check long-term scheduling. While I was trying to eliminate the need to carry a calendar/agenda/planner and eliminate writing appointments physically as well as entering them into Outlook I think I may have to go back to a more expanded paper/electronic combo. I'll still keep with the moleskine and having the calendar stuck in it for my work journal - I have never kept a work journal before and I find it incredibly handy. I actually didn't keep it last week and as a result all day today I have been searching for phone numbers, meeting notes, etc. from last week because they aren't all in that one handy spot.

Levenger Detoxification Complete

Happy to say I'm now Levenger and circa-free.

How did such a thing happen? When the circa wallet and 3x5's were discontinued, I reviewed everything I was doing with an eye toward getting around it. Bottom line: I realized I was seduced by the puff talk and actually was struggling and fooling around more than I desired.

I doubt I'll every consider anything from Levenger that will require replenishment from them; first time shame on me and second time, well, there will not be a second time. This goes double for circa and the influx of china-shod products.

I'm currently working with a pocket protector, 3x5's and 4x6's (Rhodia and Exacompta), etc. It's a work in progress, fun, a lot cheaper, little setup time/effort and the tool doesn't get in the way.

I'm ecstatic!

If so, me too

'cause I gave up on Circa (it wasn't working like I wanted) then I gave up on all 1 a day, weekly planners and went to a Moleskine graph 5 X 8 size that I just start each day with the day/date and a Scripture verse at the top of a blank page, add a Schedule, To Do lists for work and home, a Daily Record, and then notes on meetings, classes etc. I put the stuff anywhere I want on the page, and just keep going til the day is done. Then I start the next day on the next blank page.

It was really liberating to do this, and I love it. I use all colors of pens for titles, no two days may look the same (lay out on the page), it depends on what list is the longer or how my Schedule for meetings look that day...

A co-worker (who got me onto it) gave me a Pilot P500 extra fine blue like he uses for his, and off I went! I'm REALLY hooked.

Would you mind?

"I put the stuff anywhere I want on the page."

I'd like to see a picture of one of your planner pages.

I usually prefer week view planners, but my big writing just doesn't fit into that format unless, like now, I use legal sized paper.

Any particular reason you use graph instead of just blank pages?

One more thing

Since you just start at the next blank page for each day and therefore don't have a planner full of future dates, how do you track future appointments, etc.?

Yes, Uncle

Reference Link
"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) ***

when I use this method

Which is probably one of my favorites, I also have a small monthly planner where I put in appointments, reminders, and random facts. Actually, that monthly planner is the one constant I keep throughout the year. Everything else changes.

When I use the "start a new page in the planner each day" I often paste in the notebook a template for the times and to-does. But I need to track my time for work to 1/10th of an hour. I posted the templates I use on this site, BTW.

Thanks, Lisa

I found the templates.

After I asked the question, I decided that when something comes up for a future date, I will just write the date at the top of a new page and note the information. This should work well since I use the Circa system and can move pages around easily.

I have been avoiding the one day per page system because I usually like to see the whole week at a glance. However, the week view system doesn't allow me to write big unless I use big paper. With the "start a new page in the planner each day" system, I can use a smaller planner and write as big as I need to. I chose to make my planner the size of the notebook I usually carry in my purse (4.24 x 5.5 or quarter letter sized), which has worked very well for me even though it's small.

It's strange. I'm usually not very artsy, but thinking about how to implement this new planning method has given me ideas about all the interesting ways I can make things stand out--like using pretty business cards to identify appointments (I have few) and bubbly circles around "highlights" for the day. I could also use coloured paper to identify special days like my upcoming anniversary and religious holidays. This is a big deal for me and about as artsy as I'll ever get (lol).

Thanks again.



Don't forget, with quarter-letter size you have tremendous opportunity to use foldout pages (assuming a desk is available)..

I posted pics on flickr of some I was using in a quarter letter notebook at one time..


Saw your pics

I'll be using them as a study guide if I should ever need a more formal set-up in my planner

Since my planner doubles as a tickler, the use of foldouts presented itself to me when my planner was half-letter sized. Certain things must remain letter-sized (or whatever size they came in), so they get folded. I usually just punch one side and fold in to the rings. No laminate, so my pages stay quite well without having to be locked in.

Since my last post, other things have presented themselves to me, so I'm not using one page per day but two pages (appointments and weekly highlights/to-dos) with just a list of things happening for the week. The items may be out of order because they get added whenever something comes up but since it's not a lot of information, it's easy to scan and pull out what I need.

I'm working hard to stop fighting with planners, and I've realized that DIYing for me doesn't have to mean pre-printed forms for everything. Blank paper and and a little bit of thought work just as well for most things.

Thanks for the advice.

Ha! And the changes continue

Now I'm down to writing everything on the same page and just indicating appointments with a big box around them. Still looks neat.

The only thing I haven't decided is whether my weeks should be dated the normal Sunday to Saturday way, that is, according to how they look on the calendar or simply 1-7, 8-14, 15-21, etc. Strangely enough, for August 2010 this won't be a problem.

The latter allows me to enter data faster and look up the actual day later (when I'm out and need to get info down quickly), but then my weeks may run from Wednesday to Tuesday in some months, which I find confusing.

The former will cause me to have to check my calendar for which week of the month the date lies.

Am I obsessing? Probably.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Yeah, don't ask me. :)


When I was using quarter letter, I did page-a-day and cut my own tabs. I used day of week tabs. When I was using 3x5 cards in a box, I made my tabs numeric, but seven-up (seven tabs per row) so I could easily move things 'one week later' without having to think about it.

Now I barely have a planner at all outside of outlook at work. Scratch pad on the desk, reminders in outlook, a little book of reference info, but not much with a planner.

I think it's about what is most important for you. I was regularly moving stuff from week to week in the card box, but when I gave up the SHE system, it became more important to have day numbers. YMMV.


The great thing about D.I.Y is our love for paper related stuff,

not what holds it.

The paper itself change, the holders change and the systems change.

I haven't tried Circa yet, but I think I would love to get those purple rings with some covers, sheet protectors and tabs to use as reference for my hobbies.

To me, disks systems seems to be more for fun than real life use (hectic enough that there is no time to carefully remove or replace a page paying attention to all those little smurfs).

The Original Poster Asked Whether (S)he Would have to Leave DIY

When this string began two years ago, the poster opined that DIY had become a circa group, and asked if (s)he would have to leave DIY if (s)he left off using circa. This comment is to say that there are others than circa users here.

In 1995, I bought a lovely black leather 8-1/2x11 zip-close Day Runner planner at a Staples. At that time, Day Runner had a plethora of forms. By 2000, they had discontinued most of them. Mine may be the world's supply of original Day Runner forms. Every so often, I take some to an Office Depot to run off 50 copies, punch them with a 7-hole punch from Day Timer, and apply circular hole reinforcements from Wegman's.

The planner lies permanently open on my desk. There are two plastic envelope pages. One holds estimated tax payment forms and moves among the calendar pages all year long. The other holds stamps and address labels to pay bills. A 7-hole calculator aids in balancing the checkbook. A stick-on pen pocket from M.O. holds a Fisher space pen inside the front cover. Pilot G-2 gel pens of all colors lie along the sides.

I like the Day Runner Project and Today forms; Today begins at 7:00 a.m., which is when my events also often do. I also like Project Tracker from DIY and Project Notes on the back of every thing. As my projects mature, I move the forms pages out of the planner and into file folders. I find I can use a 2-pages-per-month calendar, because, ala GTD, only the most timely entries go there.

...and then they continued, "Levity aside"

And you may notice my comment titled

Agreed (Circa != DIYPlanner)

About your DayRunner forms, would you like them added to the Dynamic Templates ? If they have been discontinued, I doubt anyone will grouch, especially because the Dynamics are free !
"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) ***