Intro and Advice request

Hi friends,

I am so excited to find this site! I made a wish list for a perfect diy planner and voila, found this site. Some background, I already use 2 notebooks (work & home) for the GTD system but find myself constrained because I cannot refill it with paper.

My main issue is with binding. I hesitate to invest in circa or levenger because of the cost and also, I travel very extensively to developing countries and I like to travel very very light (no hole punching equipment).

I plan to use the classic size. I really like these sketchbooks' size, cover and the binding but these aren't refillable and the binding is bent out of shape very quickly.

Has anyone tried the binder rings that people use for the index cards?

I'm guessing that I'll have a thick notebook because I'd like for the planner to have the following sections:
- Next action section
- project section
- 'in box' random scribbles section
- calendar for appointments
- reference section
- pocket or envelope for business cards

Oh, also, I'm left-handed.

Does anyone have advice for me?

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Two possibilities

Carry pre-punched paper
a portable punch
"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)

Well, what I would ideally

Well, what I would ideally like to do is make use of the material that will be on hand in the developing countries (which is ordinary copy paper & ordinary hole punchers) and so my question is, 'has anyone made a sketchbook-esque planner with ordinary office supplies?

And if not, any recommendations for a light-weight but sturdy hole-puncher?

Thanks again for finding my post and unflagging it.

Gummed pads


Unless you think you'll add something OTHER than blank paper to your book, you don't necessarily need an openable binding--you just need a mechanism to morph plain paper into a book when you're on the road. Right?

If so, then you might take a look at the previous postings on making your own gummed pads (aka glue-binding) and instead of making a 'pad', just go ahead and glue a 'spine' on, or maybe hollow out the covers of a hardback book you like the size of and glue your papers in there. You could probably use whatever glue you find wherever you are, be it white glue or animal glue or anything.. All you'd need is your original book covers and spine and some small clamps or big rocks.


Interesting, this could be

Interesting, this could be the solution. I'll research this a bit more. I haven't bound a book in ages - durability and the book lying flat when opened would be key in this instance. Thanks!

I like Kooolbind

Hi Garo,
Ygor and naynay helped me find this product. I guess it is flexible for paper size (except for the spine). But it is essentially 3 plastic rings. They close flush so you can wrap the notebook around. There is a stiff plastic back and front, and spine for the front and back. I left only one spine in so I could fit in more paper. I chose Letter size, but they also offer 5 1/2 x 8 1/2.

I think you would find it easy to fill in other countries as I just fill with standard letter size paper, 3-hole punched. I do print my own DIY templates, but if I needed to I could just my pre-punched paper and use that. So, no need to cut, punch odd size holes, etc.

I did buy the pocket (KooolTrap), but I couldn't fit it in - I wanted more paper in. The rings are 1/2 inch so volume is limited. However, I kind of use this restriction as a way of keeping me to the essentials. For example my work uses Outlook. Each Friday I just print next week only on one page and insert that in the front of my notebook. During the week as things change I update on paper (and Outlook). Not everyones way, but works for me.

I am also glad I got the elastic closer. Thick elastic string basically. It gives me a place to put my pen, and then wraps to close the notebook nice and snug.

Hope you find what your looking for.

Regards, jim

An excellent suggestion, but...

the problem, as I see it (please correct me if I am mistaken), is that Garo needs something that can be used during travel without hauling along extra hardware like punches.

OK, how about a springback manuscript binder ?
Some less expensive ones here
Or even something very cheap like a clamp binder

Or some setup with just binder clamps/paperclips/envelopes to use while travelling and then bind it more permanently in between trips.
"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)

An expanding file might suit

Instead of binding your papers when you're travelling you could take them in a thin letter sized Expanding File
with pockets for each topic. Then you could bind the papers on your return.

The file would also allow you to carry other papers you might pick up along the way.

A handful of push-on binding clips (like very fancy paperclips) would be all you’d need to make booklets of the papers in each section.

These are all great

These are all great suggestions. Thanks everyone. I will think about it all and update you guys on what i finally decide to do...

I have an idea

I have some ideas for you, if you have or can get access to a good paper cutter. Seems to me you need something durable, yet flexible, even if it's not very pretty? And you want it in the Classic not letter size.

First, I would recommend the Franklin Covey portable hole puncher. It's flat and fits into a binder, so you might not notice that you are carrying it with all the other stuff you have with you. It will only punch one sheet at a time, and it will give you more holes than you need, but it could be a solution for you.

Second, make your own durable, sturdy covers using old file folders or the cardboard backs of old notepads or whatever you feel is sturdy enough. You can cover them with a clear contact paper (shelf paper) to make them water resistant, and you can even put at a glance type info on the covers that you will still be able to see under the clear contact paper. Then just go to an office supply store and buy three loose rings of whatever diameter you want, and voila, 3 ring, classic sized portable notebook.

I've been thinking of making something like this for myself one of these days. I have a lot of classic sized binders of all shapes and sizes, but none are as small and as flexible as I really like. If I ever do it, I'll post photos or a description.

I think this is what i'm

I think this is what i'm leaning towards. I'm scrounging for some covers. I figure that if I find that it's not working, I can scrap it and start over. Or if I want it to be 'prettier' I can upgrade easily, rather than regret extravagant purchases (which is, ahem, what I usually do).

but all of your tips have been really helpful and I'm going to incorporate alot of them into the diy planner. I'll post an update in a few weeks...

Thanks again!

Garo (i'm at work and have to post as anonymous)


So I basically did what diamond66 said, except I used 2 book rings, used the office hole puncher (just folded my paper and punched two sides of it).

I used my old sketchbook back-cover, which gives me the firm backing that I wanted and just made a passable enough cover for the front.

I'm using post-its for tabs and just using paper from my scrap basked for the inbox & etc.

I think the format is perfect but the binding is so-so. It's not so easy to add paper as I would like and it doesn't fold-over as well.

I've been drooling over, I mean, objectively researching the levenger (circa) portable paper punch and the myndology bare notebook line. I really like the myndology set up but the paper punch is too heavy and too expensive for me to purchase at this time...

Since I'm using the classic size, does anyone know if the levenger pda portable punch would work with either the circa discs or myndology discs? I did a search on the forums and umm, got confused...I think one will work with the other but not the other way around?

Myndology vs. Crica Punch Compatibility

I don't blame you for being confused about the compatibility issue -- there's a lot a disagreement about whether Circa punched paper works in Myndology/Atoma and vice versa. From personal experience, I've had no problem using either paper in either system. HOWEVER, the Myndology/Atoma discs are definitely superior as they have a deeper lip on them, thus allowing pages to turn WAY smoother than Circa discs do. If I ever go back to Circa (and I may sometime since I made such a heavy investment -- pun intended -- in the punches and leather covers, etc., etc.) I'll use my Myndology/Atoma discs.

Pre-punched letter size paper does not work

They are compatible in the sense that the smurfs are interchangeable - they fit each other's rings. BUT, the letter size pre punched paper is aligned differently. Ergo, if you buy a letter size Myndology notebook and try to refill it with Levenger or Rolla pre-punched paper, it's a no-go. However, if you're punching your own, no problem.

Thanks everyone. I think I'm

Thanks everyone. I think I'm leaning towards Myndology but with a circa punch - either the portable or the pda punch.

I really appreciate everyone's's funny that I somehow ended up right back to the first replier (ygor?) who said I should carry pre-punched paper or a holepunch... :)

Rollabind offers punching kits

They have a few different combos which include their punch with an assortment of discs and covers, as well as the punch by itself.
I have both the Levenger punches (bought with the "TAKE30" 30% off coupon) which work well too.

Myndology discs vs. Rollabind

Funny, I've found paper to turn smoother with the Rollabind discs. :-) Maybe it depends a bit on what type of paper one is using. In my experience Rollabind/Myndology seem pretty interchangeable, except for the number of holes on the Classic size Myndology. If I remember correctly the Myndology system uses 9 discs on whatever the European equivalent of Classic is (Myndology is made in Belgium), versus the 8 discs used in US-made Rollabind system. I've actually re-punched paper from one system to the other, but heavier paper is definitely the way to go if you have to do that as the smurfs end up 1/2 inch apart, which doesn't leave much supporting paper.
One of the things I love about the Rollabind/Circa/Myndology system is that if I'm careful when inserting the paper into the Circa/Rollabind punch, the holes for the discs don't interfere with the holes for 3- or 7-ring notebooks, which are farther into the paper. So I've actually home-punched paper and used the same page in all systems. Again, heavier paper is definitely the way to go for something like that. I've done it with regular weight lined paper but ended up reinforcing the hole side with thin masking or paper tape (buy the cheap stuff in the First Aid section of your nearest drug-store) before punching. Those two also make good DIY repair tapes for damaged smurfs.

Hope this helps in your decision-making! :-)

That does help, thank you! I

That does help, thank you! I just purchased a myndology notebook and some of the 'bare' refillable paper. I haven't made a decision on the holepunch yet. I saw diysara's do it yourself holepunch system and think that i'll make do with that until i decide for sure if i like the disc system.

I really do like my current book ring binders, but it isn't easy to open (to add more paper) once it's packed in...we'll see.

I'll give you guys an update once I get my myndology stuff. So far, the customer service has been great.

:D i have a rollabind punch

:D i have a rollabind punch and still sometimes utilize my 'hack' when i'm out and about without it... i found it was a great way to make sure the system was for me - which it is :D

my artwork | my blog

what's the hack?

I must have missed it.......

its easy-cheesey

It doesn't look easy...

You must have the patience of a saint to do circa punching that way. :-)

im just a weird-O ...

lol or be completely obsessive compulsive like i am...

i drive people insane... or at least make them wonder :) i think that is why crocheting is so soothing for me recently :) ahhh - the oddities of the human mind.

my artwork | my blog

Nobody's a Weirdo

or maybe everybody's a weirdo to somebody. At first I thought it must be a $$$-saving sort of thing, but you really enjoy doing this, don't you? I'm really impressed. I wish I had your patience.

I'm actually envious

I have 0 patience, 0 artistic ability, 0 etc. I'm still looking for my creative calling (as you may have noticed from empty canvases and unused calligraphy sets)

can't accept that!

everyone has an artist inside... have you tried poetry? one of the several yarn arts? beading? or music? i cannot accept that anyone (especially you) lacks artistic ability :D

my artwork | my blog


Actually, I used to be great with limericks, but that is no more. I'm looking for my newest calling. Thanks for the vote of confidence though! I'll let you know when I find it.

There was a young lady from Venus...

>:D 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)

ygor...don't make me

demote you.


me too

I adopted my husband's unused Franklin-Covey 7 hole planner, complete with punch. After lurking here for weeks, and not understanding the whole Circa thing, I figured it out after the rings on his (unused! haha!) binder were sooo stiff to open and close. So, I grabbed some scissors and SNIP! Just normal recycled pale green letter-weight paper and it's holding up just fine. I must say, I get the whole Circa thing now! Rearranging pages without opening those rings every time, makes ALL the difference! I wonder if it would work with a 3 ring binder, but the 7 rings work great. I don't snip anything I want in there for reference, just my temporary pages (projects and such).

However - for me it's just 7 quick snips as I print out a stack of forms (a "stack" for me is like 3-5 whole pages sliced in half). I'm always busy but don't have to track THAT much stuff.

PS: Your book is beautiful Sara!

Yeah, I need my myndology

Yeah, I need my myndology order - my diy notebook has fallen apart after a weekend in my bag (and constant use)...It really wouldn't hold up to international travel (but was fine as a work/home planner).

That's me up there - (I need

That's me up there - (I need my myndology stuff reply)
- garo