New to the 'system,' Goog Cal & circ / roll

I am a recent graduate with my Masters in Architecture. I have finally settled down at a great firm. The dynamic, though, is a little different than the studio setting I've been in for the last six years...

Thus, the current system doesn't work anymore. It worked beautifully before and went about like this:
a 'brain dump,' ie: a sketch / journal (something into which all thoughts go on the next blank page. could be a story I want to tell my husband. could be a sketch of an inspiring building. could be that I need milk. could be a drawing of something I'd like to build.)
that then gets disseminated into a goog calendar, or a real live project, or a goog tasks to-do list, or nothing at all.

Now, I need to be able to flip open my paper calendar like a mature adult and respond at a meeting (w/ no web access & alas, no iphone in my immediate future) as to whether or not I will be able to make the next meeting / deadline / etc. I also need a place to put project notes & sketches that is separate from my personal notes & sketches. BUT, I must carry around one notebook or nothing at all is going to get done and I'm going to be a mess...

SO. I've been eyeing the circ / roll disc-related deliciousness over at a certain company whose name I will not mention... for about 6 months straight... I finally took the plunge, and the sample kit of junior-size stuff should be here w/in the week.

NOW. For the big question... I'm super bummed that I won't have my replicating events & coordination w/ organization calendars, husband's school schedule, cousin's concert schedule, etc. I tried to print from Goog, but it pretty much sucked b/c there were few to no options... Anyone w/ any advice??? I'd love to take my goog stuff and dump it into excel or indesign, make it look attractive and add a few sections, like a tickler box for each day... but I can't find an export option to those programs to save my life. I have emailed the goog folks, they're usually pretty responsive, but I need a solution YESTERDAY!

Also, any other architects out there, or tiny-design-firm-type folks out there... would love to hear tidbits on how circ / roll and diyp make your life more productive but especially more creative and fulfilling...

phew. that was a lot.

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No answer right now, but...

I am hoping to create something that will take an iCalendar file as input. Google Calendar can export in that format.
It might take care of the To-Do List as well

BTW, the "company whose name I will not mention" -- is that the "L" Company, the "R" Company, the "M" Company, or one of the two "A" Companies ? :)
"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)

pay attention, ygor! :)


The only one of those that offers a 'sample kit' ygor... :)


Whatever ! >:D

How am I to know that the Others did not start offering one ?

"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)

don't tease, please!

you could definitely do that. and it would rock. I'm making a template right now in indesign and in about 24 hours will finish it and figure out how to post it... then maybe the something you created could dump into something that looked like that???

okay, ready?

so I posted it, though I can't find it yet. I'm assuming there's a waiting period since I'm new and might be a terrible person.

I posted it blank and will continue to tweak it, but I'm also going to post one that looks closer to what would happen if I did get my google to sit down on top of it... and print nicely...

Template forthcoming

Please read this comment for more info on a previous post.




On Calendars, well, less fussing is better. My advice to you would be to look around for programs that have calendars that can print. See if they have printing options you like.

If you can find a program that prints decently (in your opinion) then using the ical export would be an option to populate it. However, if you have that much stuff going on, is an export of each appointment really feasible? That sounds positively gross to me. :)

My company uses outlook, and I learned recently that outlook has a boatload of printing formats, and one of them fits my little quarter-letter book perfectly. I don't have a whole lot of personal appointments, so all I did was add birthdays and holidays to the work calendar and now I just print that (daily format, booklet, 1/4 letter, single side--then slice and punch). Very simple.

I have no less than six disc-bound books on my desk right now. One is for contacts (3x5), one for calendar (1/4 letter), one for scratchpad (letter), and two for notes taken while reading different books (junior).

I have determined that letter size scratchpad is really not ideal for me--too much real estate means that a bunch of different subjects end up on the same page--difficult to sort out later. Likewise unlined paper means that stuff is huge, tiny, slanted, curved, misaligned, etc. and thus difficult to read.

I am thinking of changing one of my junior books to the scratch pad. Enough real estate without being too much, small enough to handle easily.. But with lines or grid so I can apply a little discipline to my jottings. :)

I'm not in a particularly creative field, so I can't help with much else. If you need to take ALL your stuff with you everywhere, then you'd need a giant book with sections. If you don't need to take it ALL, then you might come up with something more modular like the mess on my desk. :) Then you can leave the bits you won't need in your bag/office/whatever.


less = better, for sure

it would definitely be smarter... but I have this perfectionist / designer affliction that makes me think I'm required to get something absolutely perfect on the first try, and it has to do everything - tell me when to go here, do that, and it will change the laundry for me, too...

my company pretty much uses whatever works for whoever, seeing as there are seven of us. one of the partners uses his f/c binder for home & life and it's pretty convincing b/c it looks incredible and goes w/ him everywhere and he's a very together guy. another intern uses a scratch pad and the goog phone, which also works, but I'm not in the market for a new gadget just now... then there are two guys who I can't figure out what they do, but they don't seem to fail to complete their tasks, so it's interesting... lastly, there are two women who use some mind boggling, and not very creative or delicious form of combining paper & computer... and lastly, me.

one of the very biggest problems w/ my current system is that it's all in a different place - calendars & tasks online, personal sketch/journal brain dump in one notebook & work sketch/journal & project notes & general to-dos in chronological order in a spiral bound steno scratch pad...

my circa sample kit came in last night and I lovingly pored over it for a couple hours. I'm secretly a cynic, so I expected it to suck, since I've wanted it for so long and finally broke down... it's awesome. and let me say that again. awesome.

I'm a wee bit compulsive. So the cynic in me tested the durability of the system by pulling a piece of paper out and putting it back in about 100 times last night, to see if the smurfs would bend or crack or irritate, while my husband stood by, mesmerized by me, trying not laugh his ass off...

I used the 30% off coupon everyone is raving about here, to order a punch, some pagefinders & more tabs, etc. now I just have to find delicious paper for printing forms & calendars on and even more delicious paper for sketching & pen-ink drawings!

well. and figure out this whole calendar thing. I'm wavering on it. more later.



I know all about perfectionism. :) When I started here talking about all the stuff I wanted to carry with me, someone further down the path advised NOT carrying it all with me. At the time, I could not learn from the sage advice. My perfectionist tendencies would not let me.

Now, after having been through not less than six different physical systems and a couple of electronic ones, I get it. I'm tired of messing with my system, even though I liked how each different system looked. I finally decided that there was too much fussing with most of them. It's worth it to me to use the simple approach even though it doesn't use the fancy font and custom layout.

Each person needs to come to their own equilibrium, and doing something perfectly or beautiful is incredibly tempting. You want to take the system into a meeting and have someone say "ooh! Cool!" or at least notice it. You want to open it up and feel satisfaction at having done such a beautiful thing yourself.

After a while of messing around, you either come up with something beautiful and simple enough that you can stand to do it again and again ad nauseum, or you give up some of the hand-work and go for something functional. For me, the second choice is the better one, especially since the quarter letter print from outlook looks decent to me. I'm a functional kind of person, mostly.

I made one of my junior books into a scratch pad and retired my letter covers (for now) yesterday. I printed, cut, and punched a bunch of grid paper (my own design). I need to print my February calendar today, and I won't even bother printing it on my good paper because I just throw them out at the end of the month these days. :)


Perfect but no work gets done

I agree, perfectionism particularly around planning systems, can be a big problem.

Nicole, you can build a perfect system now ... just don't expect to get any work done because you will be spending your time making your system perfect.

Refinement is the key. I recommend you start with a SIMPLE system that meets your basic needs then refine it where it needs it.

Although I don't recommend refining it constantly - like a new house it's too easy to say "who needs a kitchen, I'll just rip it out and put in a gym" then a bit later one remembers why a kitchen is useful and has to put it back :)

Also, don't forget everything you've learned on your journey so far. You must have done some planning and organising to get your degree and elsewhere in your life. What did you discover worked for you? And what were the bad habits you had to curb? Those are some of the things you have to address with your system.

If you're a perfectionist over-organiser like I can be, I suggest you definitely keep it as simple as possible and in one place. Have a look at the templates here and then choose just a few to meet your basic needs (eg calendar, project, next actions, contacts). There are some inspiring templates with multiple items on one page.

Just remember that your boss's super FC planning system probably took him years to build and make just right for him. And like building a skyscraper, it's not going to happen overnight.


you assume I can control myself!

I definitely appreciate the sound, mature, measured advice you all give me about not trying to make the planner butter my toast, too. But that all assumes that I'm a mature, measured individual, capable of taking such advice in & using it ;) I will try, truly I will!

Ideally, my notebook from Circa will get just the right amount of pages to replicate my older sketch/journal brain dumps w/out the hassle of all things being on the same page, w/ no sorting system, permanently bound together... and also combine w/ a space to jot down the day's important events from my digital calendar.

if it makes you feel any better, since I'm a designer at heart, I know that it's going to be tweaked, and have plans to only print out a week at a time right now; that way I can continue to update it. Once I feel like I have got it 'down' I will probably print a month at a time so I avoid the possibility of running out of pages when I'm busy...

I'm also going to use some of the templates I have found here on diyp - that will save me a ton of time!

so far, the system consists of a calendar page on the left where I can track my appointments, my husband's classes, and any events either of us are attending; it has an 'events' box at the top for bdays & anniversaries (just like my goog cal) and a 'ticklers' box at the bottom for must-do today (ie, call re tomorrow or pack for tomorrow or due tomorrow).

on a separate note - ever notice how weird the words we use are to non-nerds? I was showing my husband my glitteringly beautiful template test and was so proud of it... and he burst out laughing, b/c I have a box labeled 'ticklers,' and he's never read gtd.

anywho. then the left page is a doane style grid. this will help majorly in keeping it simple, b/c I was going to make all these forms, and now I'm just going to make them on the spot by hand until I notice a trend or get sick of writing it... so, on the right will be, essentially a time-sheet log, where I have to write down a 'diary' of exactly what I did and when to track my 'experience' for the licensure folks (any other intern architects out there???)

then the rest of the book has my collection of new & used post it tabs on a punched 3x5 card, and a bunch more doane grid paper and a bunch of blank paper... wish me luck!

What I do...

is a hybrid of electronic and paper. I have an iPhone (substitute another PDA or similar) on which I keep my calendar and contacts (and other things). I carry a junior circa notebook which has printed monthly calendars (out of iCal or Google), some reference materials, to-do pages, and notes pages. The latter is the majority of the pages in the notebook, since that's how I mainly use it. I use the notebook to make quick checks for calendar conflicts, and enter new events into the iPhone. The iPhone syncs with iCal and iCal syncs with Google and vice versa. Since I use a PC at work, I use Google calendar on my desktop computer. As long as I sync frequently, the Google keeps pace with the iPhone.

If I tried to have everything in my circa notebook, it'd be too fat and heavy. I gave up a FC binder because of that. If I don't have my iPhone with me, I can still jot down events in the notebook and transfer it to the iPhone or Google calendar later. I can understand your frustration with printing calendars out of Google though. It doesn't have enough options and it's ugly. I sometimes print out of iCal because it has more choices.

Exporting calendar data into another application for printing would probably be more trouble than I'm willing to undergo.

This may not be of much help to you, but I find the combo of electronics and paper to be the most workable. Using the iPhone saves me carrying around a separate cell phone and music player, not to mention being able to get email and web. I used to have a cell phone, a Palm PDA, and an iPod. Too much stuff. I hated carrying around so much stuff, even if I used a messenger bag or leather folio. Now I just carry the iPhone in a holster, the notebook in my hand, and a couple of fountain pens in my shirt pocket.

"The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once." Albert Einstein and Buckaroo Banzai

Lots of possibilities

If Google calendar isn't working for you then you may have to decide which electronic calendar is more important - work or home. If your workplace has a standard electronic appointment system then I suggest you use that. If they don't then it's up to you if you prefer electronic or paper.

I use Outlook at work as it's standard in the organisation I work for, however I don't include personal events in my office outlook except when they impact on my work time. Instead I keep a printed copy of my appointments for the week with a small personal diary. But this works for me as my personal and work lives are quite separate.

When my work and personal lives were more intermingled I kept an A5 2 days to a page diary with a line dividing the each day into work on the left and home on the right.

(I have to confess that I don't use the Atoma/Circa system as I'm way too cheap to spend more than a few dollars a year on planning and the import cost to Australia is prohibitive.)

Here are some practical suggestions for an instant fix
- if you have a work electronic appointment system, talk to your office IT gurus about importing your appointments from Google Calendar. There may be a way for them to get the data into an import file for you.

- if you can copy the google screen you can dump into into a word processing program as a text file or formatted text file, then you can play with it and copy it into Excel. It may take a bit of fiddling but you'll have the information. The formatted text file option will give you something closer to the screen layout than plain text.

- if you don't have an electronic solution you could print your google calendar & to-do list onto letter sized stickers or standard paper, cut up the pages to fit your circa planner and stick them in. I know it sounds a bit unusual but it will save a lot of rewriting and get you operational straight away

I'm majorly finicky, capricious, and OCD, BUT...

...Circa just works for me. And surprise surprise, it's worked well for me for 2 years now (I honestly can't believe it hasn't lost its luster yet...what is WRONG with me???).

I use the Micro PDA size for quick capture, reference (phone #s and names of things), reminders (small calendar, lists), and jotting ideas in general. It's small enough to always have on me, so it always gets used. I use a combination of Levenger's wallet cards and my own colored cardstock (had a ream cut at Staples for an extra $10 or so).

I use the Circa Jr. notebook for a full calendar, some reference (b-days, holidays, etc.), general note taking, idea fleshing, sketching, and documenting. I use a combination of Levenger's lined and grid paper, but I print my own calendars using ygor's DIY calendar program and I print my own templates, too. The Circa Jr. also comes in handy as a "halfway house" for notes that aren't contemporary enough for my Micro PDA but aren't quite ready for archiving.

Then I use a Circa Letter notebook for reference, archiving, and for large scale projects.

But that's just how I use it - the brilliance of the system come in that you can customize it however you want - covers can be thin or thick. Paper can be big or small, thick or thin (though thick works better). And after the initial investment of discs and rings and covers, I've found the cost of maintenance to be minimal. I can accessorize my notebooks with dividers, pockets, and pouches, or not. I can buy covers that fold over, or not.

What's funny is that every time I go to Levenger's site to drool over their new products, I find myself realizing that my system is really perfect for me as is, and so I end up not buying Circa, but maybe some other stuff instead. That I haven't changed my notebooks in two years is frankly quite a miracle since my urge to try new products borders on clinical sickness. ;)

Wish I could suggest a net-based calendar option for you, but I've gone totally analog with Circa and as of right now, have no need or desire to go back to electronic anything.

seriously considering it...

I'm toying w/ the idea of getting some micro pda... I like the idea that I can jot down 'call Pasquale's by Wednesday' when I think of it while driving to work; then on lunch, I can look up the number online & add it to the page, then I can move that page to Wednesday, and it is an 'appropriately' sized piece of paper that it doesn't block the rest of my system all day on Wednesday...

question though - do you feel like you're 'wasting' paper? and how do you store them?


I used a fobster micro-pda until recently, which was a bunch of recycled (no wasting paper) business cards connected by a small ring on my keyring.

I found it useful for contact info, housekeeping lists (work and home), books I want to read, etc. The kind of things I would need on the weekend. (It would also be a good way to have a few very major project deadlines to hand). Included was a business card sized calendar that Australia Post gives away each year which gave me the dates of public holidays etc.

The only reason I stopped using it was my keys kept tearing the lining of my handbag so I had to buy a grownup keyring :)

So now I use a cheapy business card sized diary instead.

As to storing them. I didn't.

Very un-GTD, but then I don't follow GTD *horrors* ;)