Desk of Shame Update – Calling the Dog

Well, I’ve managed to narrow my options on the Desk of Shame down to three.

Nothing like cutting it right down to the wire, as today is New Year’s Eve, but at least I’m getting there.

And I have decided one thing for sure…that I am going to have two planners this year; a large sized one for literally every aspect of my life,  that will stay somewhere the majority of the time (haven’t decided yet between leaving it at home open on my desk or toting it back & forth on weekdays to work), and a smaller more portable one for personal stuff only, that I can carry around with me 24/7/365.

I have selected the Franklin Covey Classic sized Suprema in saddle tan as my “hold everything, work and personal, bill-organizing, second brain, portable desk”  planner.  In it I will be using Franklin Covey Serenity inserts, in a One Page Per Day format.

I chose this newly released format for three reasons:

1. I can fit an entire year of 1PPD inserts in my binder (including monthly tabs), along with my subject tabs. I felt this was sort of a deal-breaker for my Everything Planner. No fishing around in the archives for dates I paid bills, etc. The whole year will be at my fingertips.

2. My beef with typical FC 1PPD formats is that the appointment part and task list essentially split the page in half, giving each only a narrow column in which to write. These new inserts separate out the sections into large blocks that each span the width of the entire page, thus giving those with large, loopy penmanship (such as myself) more room to write. So, although I am not wild about so much of the page being taken up with color/pattern, I have high hopes for the open format of these inserts. They simply have three lined sections.

The top (smallest) one I intend to use as my daily tracker (weather, mood, the BF’s schedule, whether or not I flossed…stuff like that). The middle section is designated for To Do’s using FC’s “Prioritized Daily Task List” format (which I adore) and since the majority of my work load is task-related, this being the largest of the blocks  is optimal for my needs. The bottom section (slightly smaller than the Task section) is designated “Daily Notes”, and my appointments will go here. Some days I don’t have any meetings (believe it or not)…so this is the perfect spot on those slow days for quotes, doodles, stickers and the like.

3. The set comes with tabbed months : )

That is my “Everything Brick” in a nutshell. Photos to come when the inserts arrive (should be January 4th) and I have it set up. Thank you to everyone who kept rooting for the FC Classic : ) You definitely helped me make my decision on this aspect of my planning for 2013.

Now for the smaller, personal planner that I will carry with me 24/7/365.

Yeah, not so easy to choose that one! I did, as I mentioned, narrow it down to three choices:

1. FC Compact Veronica in Latte with HPOV 2PPD. I do love these inserts the best, there is no denying that. Just enough color, plenty of room, tabbed months. Win. In the Veronica, I can fit 6 months worth of 2PPD and a small section of note paper for quotes on the fly.

The upside of using a FC binder with FC inserts is that they obviously won’t stick out that extra 1/4″ and tweak the ol’ OCD. You can also use the pen loop without fear of bending the tabs.

2. FF Personal Malden in Ochre with the same HPOV 2PPD inserts as above. Once again, I can fit 6 months of 2ppd inserts in it, however the Malden’s rings make it too tight for a section of note paper. BUT…the Malden has enough interior pockets that squeezing a FC note pad inside the back cover works just fine.

The upside to using the Malden is that I get the sleeker Filofax form factor, but still have my beloved FC inserts. Yes, they do stick out a bit but the Malden is floppy enough to adequately accommodate them so I don’t go bat shit crazy.

Side note: The good news with the first two options is, using essentially the same innards means that I can switch from the Veronica to the Malden pretty much at will, without irrevocably effing up my system.

3. FF Compact (not sure which one yet) with trimmed FC HPOV monthly tabs and FF 1PPD diary pages. Alas, FC inserts as-is will not fit into a Filofax Compact. They stick out too far to be even close to functional. But trimming & re-punching a dinky set of monthlies is no trouble, and I can fit 6 months of Filofax 1PPD’s in the Compact just fine, with a small section for note paper.

The obvious upside to this option is that it is the most lightweight and portable of the three. I do give up my HPOV inserts, but at least I get a full half year in my book, which is nothing to sneeze at considering the ultra small footprint. I still have my tabbed months and since the majority of the detailed stuff will go into the Brick, 1PPD should be more than enough page space for my carry-with planner.

3b. Another option I started kicking around this morning in the shower is a FF Compact, only this time with FC trimmed HPOV monthlies and weeklies. The reason I’m toying with this is,  if I’m already keeping a full set of deets on literally everything in the Brick, that should free up my carry-around planner for only personal, pertinent items and (in theory at least) weeklies COULD be enough. That way, not only would I get a full year in my book (which is optimal) but I also gain the ability to lay eyes on my whole week without flipping around.

True, I would have to trim & re-punch the inserts for use in a FF Compact, but doing a set of weeklies is far, far better than tackling a full year of 2PPD. For a mere $2 Staples will trim…and then I would just have to re-punch. But I have a FF Personal punch and a long weekend coming up, so why not?

Again, photos will come when I get whichever one I decide on, all set up.

This time, I’m gonna let you vote.  Fun!

Which small, portable option should I go with? Keeping in mind that I’ll also have ‘the Brick’ as a master planner holding down the tell me which one should be my 24/7/365 system?

An Impending New Year and the Desk of Shame

Well, the world didn’t end, so now I guess it’s time to deal with my “desk of shame”.

On it, I began accumulating my potential planner candidates for 2013. This started around September, and now that 2012 is all but over, as you can see, things have gotten way, way out of hand.

the desk of shame

The desk of shame (the sticky notes on each are my beefs w/them. See details below)

As you know, I recently discovered disc bound systems, and have been using (and loving) my Levenger Circa in Junior size (pictured in the middle of the desk, propped up against the Arc punch). My one and only beef with it had been that the interior of the covers left me wanting.

Wanting a 2nd pen loop (normally I can slip a 2nd pen into the rings…but oops, no rings here!). Wanting more than two card slots. Wanting maybe some pockets or something, anything really, inside the back cover. Wanting a means to close and secure the thing.

I was actually getting ready to dismantle the Desk of Shame and just go with Levenger.

Until yesterday, when I discovered, to my absolute horror, that attempting to erase a Frixion pen on Levenger’s (I used to think) superb paper resulted in this mess…


What. The. FUCK.

It is true I don’t use Frixion’s much anymore…really just for scheduling work appointments (which tend to change a lot) or things that are only tentative but I need to hold the spot…but this is ridiculous. Levenger paper is not cheap. Not only is it an ugly mess, but the paper in the erased area is all crinkly (almost like it got wet) so writing over it was pretty much a disaster too.

Attempting to erase after trying a good old fashioned pencil was smudgeless, however all the printed lines erased right along with my writing.

ZOMG Fail.

The Levenger annotation ruled paper and all of the cheaper Arc paper seems to be fine in erasing both Frixion pens and regular run of the mill pencil, however Arc only makes Monthly and Weekly inserts and those won’t work for me.

Levenger must use different ink when printing the daily pages then? I’ve gotta say, they really screwed the pooch with that decision.

This is a whole new, big, major, really freaking annoying beef. Could I just not use pencil or Frixions and stick with the Circa? I did just splurge on that lovely Kyoto pen after all. What about just using Arc inserts and dealing with the Weekly format and learning to write smaller?

Sure, I could do either, but isn’t this whole crazy planner obsession thing about finding a no-compromise solution? For me it is.

Whether or not my OCD will stand for this new development remains to be seen.

So in the mean time, back to the Desk of Shame I go, in case I snap and Levenger does indeed cease to be an option. Thank goodness I never got around to putting everything way!

To keep things fair, I set up each potential planner system in a tan colored binder, since my Levenger of choice has been the saddle tan one from eBay.

For some reason I thought putting everything in like colored binders might even the playing field and help me choose by function rather than form. But even I don’t know what I’m doing anymore when it comes to planners, so who knows if that logic will work or not.

Anyway, here are the contestants in the once again and seemingly inevitable New Year’s Planner competition  (from left to right in the photo, in case you want to refer back to it):

1. Filofax A5 w/One Day per Page – Levenger Junior is the equivalent of a Filofax A5 or Franklin Covey Classic; pages are roughly 5.5″ x 8.5″. My first option is to stay big and go with an A5 with One Day per Page inserts. The upside of this Ochre Malden I’ve chosen is that it has tons of great interior storage and a whole year of dailies will fit in it.

Beefs: No monthly tabs (and, thanks to the back-to-back Filofax printing layout, there is no option for off-brand monthly tabs, even if I could find another brand that would fit) and crappy paper quality. The large, leather Filo’s can also be heavy to lug around.

2. Filofax Personal w/One Day per Page – If I decide bigger isn’t necessarily better, that leaves my old standby, Personal size. This size could also be used as a planner/wallet combo if I so decided (though Personal is a little big for that) and again, the Carmel Finchley I’ve chosen with which to demo this set up has great interior function. The biggest plus here is that I can fit an entire year of daily inserts in a still rather portable book.

Beefs: The aforementioned lack of monthly tabs and crap-tastic paper (though, in this size I was at least able to trim & re-punch FC monthly tabs and use those, but since Filofax prints everything back to back, I had to just sorta stick them in near where they should go, which tweaks the ol’ OCD).

3. Franklin Covey Compact w/Two Pages Per Day – Kind of a happy medium between a smaller binder size yet a wee bit larger (and much better paper) page. These refills do come with monthly tabs, and refills are readily available in various designs. I’ve set 2013 up in Her Point Of View. Still wanting some color it seems : ) This Veronica binder has lovely leather and adequate interior function. The large rings allow for 6 months of inserts at two pages per day.

Beefs: To accommodate the larger page size, FC binders feel boxy and awkwardly square (not that this fact has stopped me, or will stop me from using one…it just makes it feel less optimal when carrying it around). These do not make good wallet/planner candidates even a little, and I don’t care for their tiny subject tabs.

4. Levenger Compact w/Two Pager per Day – While we’re talking smaller, it seems the perfect time to mention the Levenger Compact. Page size is exactly the same as a Filofax Personal. I picked up this plastic sample from eBay on the cheap to see if I’d like it. I do, however Levenger seems to be discontinuing this size, so although refills are available for it in 2013, will they be in the future? Unknown. Also, currently there is only one leather cover available for it on the Levenger website; in a smooth black leather.

Beefs: This plastic one has no pen loop or interior pockets whatsoever (the leather one would, but that would cost me an additional $69 for something I might not be able to refill beyond 2013). No monthly tabs were included with the inserts (however since Levenger does leave breaks in between the months, I was able to trim & re-punch FC Compact monthly tabs and use those). Accessories/refills for the Levenger Compact size are in short supply and may be phased out at any time.

5. Filofax Compact w/One Day per Page – Confused yet, since the last 3 all call themselves “Compact” yet they are all different sizes?  This set up would essentially be the same deal as the Filofax Personal, except that only three months of inserts will fit. However, the smaller rings would make writing a lot easier. The obvious pro with this choice is that it is the optimal planner/wallet size. I had to go with my yellow Finsbury (of the now famous Drunken YouTube Review), as I don’t have any tan Compacts in my collection.

Beefs: Same as with the Filofax Personal. Must kluge trimming/re-punching FC monthly tabs for it and stick them in willy nilly, and the thin Filofax  paper. Also, only having three months in my planner is tolerable but not really that great for my needs.

6. Franklin Covey Classic – I have no inserts for this one (yet). Another large option, and this Classic Suprema in saddle tan is chock full of awesome slots, pockets and compartments inside. I’ve had this binder for years and I adore it. It also has the 2 pens loops I crave. One thing I like about this option is that FC has some nice One Page Per Day refills available for it (all with monthly tabs included, I might add). Often with the FC Compact, you’re stuck with either Weekly or Two Page per Day refills, but for some reason they do plenty of dailies for the Classic, and a whole year will fit comfortably. Were I to decide this is the way I want to go, I’d probably order up the Serenity design for some color.

Beefs: As with the large leather Filo’s, this binder can be like schlepping around a brick in my bag. Also, despite the amazing pebbled leather, there is no closure on this binder, same as the Levenger.

There you have it folks. Welcome to my neurosis. And my messy desk.

I’d put up a poll and let you vote your little hearts out for which I should ring in the New Year with, but I suspect this is beyond a vote.

I suspect what needs to happen is some good, old fashioned dog calling.  And hey, I can think of worse things…it is January in New England after all. What else do I have to do until spring?!

The possibility exists, too, that I end up with two planners running…something small and portable to carry 24/7/365 (ideally that doubles as a wallet), and a behemoth desk version that stays at home (or possibly at work, since that is where the majority of my need for page space originates), or is dedicated to work and only gets toted around on weekdays.

As a post script, let me just say that Levenger Circa is an awesome system and I don’t regret delving into it as I have.  My intention was to use one of these as my 2013 Journal anyway, and that will stand, as the lined paper seems to be fine, and I don’t use pencil or Frixion in my journal anyway.

I have submitted a complaint email to Levenger about the issue with the ink used for the Daily inserts, and am hoping for resolution by either returning the them outright for a refund, or exchanging them for the Julie Morgenstern Balanced Life inserts, which I am told are printed with different ink and therefore withstand erasing.

As always, stay tuned!!

Circa Take II – Yet Another Levenger Box Arrived Today

I know, I know….I’m obsessing. It’s kinda what I do.

Some people gamble, some do drugs, others drink. I fixate on planners.

If you read this and this, you know my current infatuation is on disc bound notebooks and planner systems. Levenger Circa now, to be precise.

Today, in a fit of pre-holiday expedited free shipping, more goodies from Levenger arrived. Unlike my eBay score, this one is the real deal.

Love the presentation!

Love the presentation!

Comes wrapped in a screen & lens friendly cloth that is HUGE!

Comes wrapped in a screen & lens friendly cloth that is HUGE!

Levenger Teal Fold-over Circa in Junior Size...unboxed

Levenger Teal Fold-over Circa in Junior Size…unboxed

This shot does not do the color justice. It is definitely more teal than plain old blue.

It even came with 3/4" matching teal aluminum discs

It even came with 3/4″ matching teal aluminum discs

Now for the interior…

The inside front is a lovely pale leather lining called Dune

The inside front is a lovely pale leather lining called Dune

The back features Dune leather and a Teal leather/elastic pen loop

The back features Dune leather and a Teal leather/elastic pen loop

The insides of the Fold Over Circa seem to be pretty standard, with 2 card slots and one full length slip pocket behind them in the front, and nothing but a pen loop in the back.

The Levenger stamp on the outside bottom of the back cover

The Levenger stamp on the outside bottom of the back cover

As you can see above, it also has a nice Dune contrast stitching.

Now for the discs. I went out on a limb and ordered Kyoto discs for it. Here is the description of the color from the Levenger website:

“Kyoto resin with touches of turquoise, lavender, espresso and caramel”

I was skeptical at first, but figured I’d try them out. After all, I could always return them if I didn’t like them, and I already had a set of the Silver aluminum discs on hand to take their place.

Here they are. See the array of colors?

Here they are. See the array of colors?

A close up. You can really see the blue in this shot

A close up. You can really see the blue in this shot

And finally, installed.

kyoto installed

These are actually 1.5″ discs. I meant to order 1″, but that’s what you get for rushing to do something on your lunch break.

They look a lot cooler in person, but tell me…which do you prefer, the Kyoto discs or Silver aluminum?

With the Silver aluminum discs

With the 1″ Silver aluminum discs

Those last two photos you just looked at are actually great representations of the true color of the cover.

Here’s another look at the Silver aluminum discs to help you make up your mind.

sliver discs spine
What I’m asking is not whether or not you like the Kyoto discs…because I do like them (they look fantastic with the Chestnut used Circa from yesterday too by the way), what I’m asking is which you like better with this Teal cover.

Keep in mind that ultimately this Circa will have 1″ discs either way. I will need to do an exchange for the 1″ Kyoto’s, but may wait until after the holidays to do it, simply because I wouldn’t go to the Post Office two weeks before Christmas even if my very life depended on it.

I am extremely impressed with Levenger products so far. Both the leather covers and the rings are impeccably put together. The stitching on both the new and used Circa’s are tight, even and flawless. The discs are infinitely better crafted than the plastic ones from either Arc or Martha Stewart (which both show seaming and unevenness here and there).

So there you have it! Chime in below to let me know which discs you like in this Teal blue beauty……………………………………….

Circa – You Knew I Wouldn’t Wait the Week

great shot rings

If you read my last post, you know I have recently become enamored with disc bound notebooks/planner systems.

I started with an insanely cheap Arc system from Staples and had decided that, if I stuck with it for a week, I would take the plunge and order myself a Levenger Circa because although I love the minuscule price of Arc, I knew I would tire of the plastic cover and discs in the long term.

Well, I regularly peruse eBay for all sorts of things and you’ll never believe what I came across Friday night. You guessed it…a used Levenger Circa in “Mezzo” leather in Chestnut (between tan and brown). Just for shits & giggles, I bid on it, figuring that the price was so low I’d never win it.

I won it.

And amazingly enough, it just arrived in today’s mail. That was crazy fast shipping!

Suffice to say, I moved into that thing in a heartbeat! I love it…the leather is fantastic (it reminds me of my saddle) and smells great, even though it’s used. I had ordered up some 1″ Levenger aluminum discs to see if they were worth the hype (they are) and they also came today, so without further ado, here is a quick look at my new Levenger:

Here it is as I bid on it…with standard 3/4″ Levenger black plastic discs and filled with 60 sheets of Levenger Annotation Ruled Sheets.

(My Arc from the last post is in the background)

outa the box You can see it has a few dings on the leather, but just from normal wear and tear. Gives it character ; )

Here it is with the new Levenger 1″ aluminum discs put in….so pretty!

flat w new discs

The inside front has 2 card pockets and one full length slip pocket. Of note is that the lining is either leather or a very nice vinyl. I assume vinyl, but since it doesn’t specify on the Levenger website, who knows. At any rate, it is very classy and looks as well as feels high quality.

inside front
The inside of the back cover is plain and has a leather/elastic pen loop that matches the exterior and it will easily accommodatefat pens, like my Coleto.

2012-12-10 15.05.11
Here’s a great shot of the spine, highlighting the spiffy aluminum discs.

side disc view
Don’t they look fabulous? Way nicer than the plastic ones!! And might I add that they make for super smooth page turning. I am very pleased with them. I’m also very pleased with the fact that, as my Levenger collection grows (’cause you know me…it totally will) I can use these rings with other covers, and this cover with other rings.

Here again is the photo from the beginning. A very nice shot of both the grain of the leather and the glint of the discs. This is actually just about a perfect representation of the color. I am a very, very happy girl : )

great shot rings
That’s it. Just a quick peek/review. If this used Circa is any indication, I should be blown away when I get a new one!

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more adventures in disc bound planning!

Raider of the (not really Lost) Arc

What I actually raided was the Arc (as in, M by Staples Arc) section of my local office supply store.

It all started innocently enough, last weekend when I was out shopping with a girlfriend. We poked into Staples for a look -see and I noticed a prominent display of Arc disc bound notebooks and planners. Immediately, I nabbed an el cheapo hot pink plastic cover and a few inserts to take home and play with, and maybe post a review of.

You know…for the sake of the blog.

But then I panicked and put everything back. Don’t I have enough planner stuff already? Do I seriously need more? Of course not. Back away from the Arc.

Then I Tweeted about somehow only now discovering disc bound notebooks & planners and was astounded at the response. It seems that many of you knew about, have used, still use and love disc bound notebooks.  Huh.

Over the next few days, I found myself watching YouTube videos of how people use disc bound planning systems and Googling the different options. While I really liked the concept, I found some of the Arc stuff cheap looking, especially those black plastic discs.

Then I found out about Levenger Circa. Like Arc on ‘roids, they have high quality metal or resin discs, premium leather covers and uber high quality, fountain pen friendly paper.

Oh god…………..

I decided to go back to Staples and pick up what I had initially walked away from and play around with it to see if I’d seriously consider  moving away from my current (and working fine) Filofax Domino A5 system BEFORE taking the plunge into Levenger Circa. Who’s a good girl? I am.

Pictures are coming, promise. But long story short, I’m switching. And here’s why:

One of my biggest planner vexations over the years, has been how to adapt it to the almost constantly changing nature of my life. Just when I get all my ducks in a nice row, something major erupts. A cross country move, having to schedule caring for a terminally ill mother, a new job, night classes, utter and complete re-structuring of a current job. You get the idea. It seems I’m happily doodling to fill in empty space on weekly refills  in a Compact one month and wondering if 1 day per page is going to be enough in an A5 the next.

Because each of the planner systems I have previously used have various ring spacing/configuration for each size binder, that meant a lot of switching around and (cue scary music) purchasing new appropriately sized inserts and doing the dreaded re-copying ritual. It made tweaking my planner to work with my new circumstances almost as stressful as the life changes themselves.

But with these disc bound systems, there is essentially one hole configuration  for every single size cover. Same spacing. So you could conceivably put any size insert into any size cover.

Did you hear that? That was angels singing.

I cannot believe I am just finding out about these now, at 47 years old, a mere 15 days before the Mayan Apocalypse.


Anyway, the second beef I’ve had with ring bound planners is the freaking rings themselves. I like big rings (and I cannot lie…hehehe!) so that I can load up my book and carry plenty of other stuff along with several months worth of calendar pages. Thing is, those fat rings make it terrible to write on the left hand pages because they get in the way of your hand (if you’re a righty, which I am). Smaller rings, such as in a Compact or Slimline make for easy peasy writing, but you can’t carry much.

The cool thing about the disc systems is that they can fold over on themselves, like a traditional spiral bound notebook, only you can still add, remove and rearrange pages easily and at will.

Thirdly there are the long standing issues I’ve had (and bitched about incessantly) with paper quality, the provision for tabbed months, and having no Filofax/FC retailers anywhere near me so that I have to order stuff sight unseen and take my chances that I’ll like it.

All three are solved with the disc system.

I can simply put any size refill into my Arc, because every size has the same hole configuration so no re-copying needed. I can have freaking huge discs and carry around a veritable encyclopedia of a book, and still easily write on every inch of both pages, because I can fold it over on itself…or I can pop in some small rings and put my system on a diet when necessary too.

And happily, Arc refills are great quality, readily available at a retailer near me and incorporate tabbed freaking months.

Seriously Filofax…if Staples can do it…come ON.

But I digress.

Oh, and did I mention both the covers and the refills cost a fraction of what a traditional ring bound planner system would run you?

My plastic cover was $7.99. I know right?!  An Arc leather cover will run you $14.99.  Leather. Okay, its anywhere from $59 – $109 for a Junior size leather in Levenger, but still. You only have to buy ONE cover. Ever. For all your future, as of yet unforeseen planning needs. Unless of course you want more colors : )

AND…and…you can buy the covers separately and customize the inserts you want, rather than paying an arm and a leg for included inserts that you won’t even use.  Love that too.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking. Pictures.

Here is my Arc book

pink plastic arc front

M by Staples Arc in “Junior” size, hot pink with my fave Life is Good sticker added. At $7.99 you totally don’t mind stickering these things up!

Looks a lot like my Deep Pink Domino doesn’t it?

Love this, but do miss having a pen loop...

Love this, but do miss having a pen loop…

This whole thing…the plastic cover, colorful tabs, and all of the inserts cost me $32 (okay, $31.94. I rounded up, so shoot me). The Monthly/Weekly Calendar was the most expensive item…at $11.99 for an annual pack. On great paper. With Monthly tabs.  Yeah.

Here is a shot of the discs. These are black plastic and 1" in diameter

Here is a shot of the discs. These are black plastic and 1″ in diameter

The book came standard with 3/4″ black plastic discs, but I found them too small for my needs so I picked up a 1″ set for $1.99. They had 1 1/2″ and 2″ discs as well. The 2″ set will run you an additional dollar.

You can see how easy and inexpensive it would be to keep an array of discs for all your planner size needs!

Yesterday, Arc planner in tow, I had to go back to Staples for work. You know damn well that I  cruised around to see if there was anything else I wanted. Interestingly, when I went back to the Martha Stewart section for more sticky balloons, I noticed that on the other side of the display, she has her own set of disc bound notebooks.

I picked up a black plastic one more sturdy than the Arc ones (and also more expensive at $17.99 but the plastic was much thicker- the Arcs will bend – this one would not, but it was still thin and laid flat when folded back). The ONLY reason I got it was because it had a pen loop inside the back cover as well as an elastic strap closure like Moleskine’s have. I also picked up a set of her metallic (looking, they are still plastic) discs in 1 1/4″ diameter. You’ll see why in a minute.

Ta-daaaaa! New and improved Arc with Martha Stewart back/elastic strap closure

Ta-daaaaa! New and improved Arc with Martha Stewart back, complete with elastic strap closure, and new rings

Jazzier, no?

Here is a close up of those Martha Stewart discs.

MS discs

Stamped with “Martha Stewart”. Not so wild about that as I sorta can’t stand her, but they aren’t too conspicuous so it’s okay

And here is the back. It is still plastic, but it gives added stability for writing if I have the book on my lap or something. I thought it made a practical addition.

The black, plastic Martha Stewart back. I put the sticker on for some tie in to the front

The black, plastic Martha Stewart back. I put the sticker on for some tie in to the pink front

Now here it is compared to my beloved A5 Deep Pink Domino:

arc vs domino

M by Staples Arc in Junior size on the left, Filofax Domino A5 on the right

As you can see, they are practically the same size. Remarkably, the inserts are entirely cross-compatible too (they just need re-punching with the Arc punch, but that does not affect the Filofax holes at all) so you can move them back and forth if you so desire. I did.  More on that in a bit.

Arc Junior size on top of A5 Domino

Arc Junior size on top of A5 Domino

Remember those Martha Stewart discs I mentioned before? Well, I elected to put the same diameter discs in my Arc as I had in the Domino (1 1/4″ or 30 mm) to compare apples to apples.  I can fit the exact same amount of insert pages in the Arc as I can the A5 Domino.

The difference is that I can make the Arc skinnier or fatter at will just by changing out the discs. Cover & inserts stay the same. And I can fold it over on itself no matter what size discs I choose. Win!

All of you jonesing for an A5 Compact…just sayin’.

Here are the fronts - Arc Junior on the left, Domino on the right

Here are the fronts – Arc Junior on the left, Domino on the right

Notice that the whole Arc book is about A5 page size. True, the A5 binder itself is larger, but you can see that the inserts are not.

Here are some shots of the interior:

The inside front has no pockets, no nothin'. I added a zip pocket insert to hold my stuff

The inside front has no pockets, no nothin’. I added a zip pocket insert to hold my flags and stuff

There is nothing inside the front cover. No pockets, nada

I put in some colorful tabs (they come in a set of 5 and are also available in black if you prefer something more professional) and that awesome sticky flag page marker to give easy access to the calendar part. These are the mylar kind that you can’t really write on, but they are still cool for, well, flagging. I may even pry them off and use my paper sticky flags on it. We’ll see.

pink arc weeklyThese are the weekly sheets. The calendar pack comes with both monthly (tabbed) and weekly. For $11.99. Did I mention that?  I also put an Arc Task Pad (very similar to Day Timer’s Hot Lists, but larger and not sticky. They go in the holes and can easily be moved around) as a Page Marker in between to serve as a running To Do list.

Here is the creme de la creme…

...Makes me want to weep with joy : )

…Makes me want to weep with joy : )

You can fold it back on itself for easy, comfortable writing. This photo was taken before I put in the Martha Stewart rings, but no matter the size of the rings, they still fold back and the rings don’t interfere with full use of page real estate.

See...perfectly flat, even folded over

See…perfectly flat, even folded over with big-ass discs

Also utterly and completely flat open

Also utterly and completely flat open

Now, since I also picked up the punch ($39.99 one time, for one universal punch that will cover you no matter what size your book is and is so well built you could brain a home invader with it) I was able to move the rest of the year’s Filofax A5 inserts into it so I can use it now. Because face it, with something so awesome, who wants to wait for the New Year? Certainly not “No Patience Zoe”.

FF pages Arc does not make a 1PPD calendar option (neither does Martha Stewart), but Levenger does. Today I ordered up a set of January – March daily pages for 2013. I love that you can order them quarterly. That way, you can start your system whenever you want; calendar year, academic, whatevsies. Or, you can just spring for the entire year. Your choice.

Since the inside back of the pink cover was equally as nondescript as the front (and lacked a pen loop) I popped the Martha Stewart back onto my book in a jiffy and, voila, pen loop!

inside back No, it doesn’t match…but for the pen loop (it’s plastic with an elastic section, just as we are accustomed to on some Filofax and FC models) and the Moleskine-esque elastic closure, it’s totally worth not matching.

I love this thing so much I don’t even care that it doesn’t match. Deal with that OCD!

If I’m still feein’ the mojo one week from today, I’m going to order myself  a nice Levenger one (with an assortment of metal discs) for ______________{ insert holiday or celestial event of your choice here}.

In the mean time, thanks for reading about my foray into the world of disc bound planners. If you’re good boys and girls…and I do end up with a Levenger, I might even do a video detailing my set up and day to day use for you : )