Desk of Shame – And Then There Were Two

“January 8, 2012:  Dear Diary, my hand is sore from seemingly endless re-copying over the last eight days, and I fear my boyfriend is slowly becoming fully aware of the true depth of my neurosis. It is now the second week of 2013 and I am still spending an inordinate amount of time and mental energy trying to decide which planner is going to work best this year.  If I don’t figure this out soon, I will no doubt end up dying senile and alone…slowly suffocating under a pile of organizers, rocking back and forth, weeping quietly to myself over what my life could have been.”

Lol, not really.

I’ve got the Desk of Shame narrowed down to two. As you know,  in my last post, I had three options I was dubbing around with and had set out to do some dog calling. You guys helped me out by voting, and the FF Compact w/Trimmed FC Weeklies won in the polls.

But guess what…of the two dogs that have stuck around since I started calling, neither are the winner of the poll. Oh, and I’ve abandoned having two planners (one for work & another for personal) too, so the Brick is now back in the bin.

Yeah,  that is a sad trombone you hear in the background.  Welcome to my new year.

One of the dogs (the little dog) nipping at my heels is close to what you voted for, however. It is a Franklin Covey Giada Compact, in a lovely plum color, with FC weeklies.

Here it is in action

Here it is in action. check out pictures w/notes in Flickr too…

The Giada has 3/4″ rings  so it mimics the slimmer profile of a Filofax Compact. Sort of.  A full year of weekly and monthly inserts will fit, along with a Swing Pad and plenty of room for notes, and the rings don’t get in the way of writing nearly as much as a larger-ringed FC like the Veronica.

I also really, really like the color.

FC Giada in "plum"

FC Giada in “plum”

Veronica is awesome, and even though the Latte color is lovely, at the end of the day, it’s still beige. And I’m just not feeling beige these days.  So smaller rings and a fun color won out over fitting more inserts yet being…beige.

Anyhoo, this binder is one of the two remaining contenders for the following reasons:

* Two pen loops (both are half leather, half elastic so Coleto’s or other fun, fat pens fit with no problem).

* Lots of good pockets. The front has a full length slip pocket, a zip pocket, an ID window with 4 card slots and a secretarial pocket to boot. The back has two full width slip pockets. Franklin Covey really gets it right with all the internal functionality!


Inside front

Inside back

Inside back

* The ability to use FC inserts without all the bothersome trimming and re-punching. I’m nothing if not lazy, after all.

Now, I could also use the HPOV 2ppd inserts in this binder if I wanted, but only three months will fit and that’s it. No Swing Pad, no room for note paper, no nothing. Just three months of dailies with monthly tabs.

Last night I tried putting in the current month (January) of 2 Pages per Day and left the rest weeklies. That could work if I had a busy month and needed more space, but I suspect it could get confusing and/or lead to more copying of data than I want to do on an ongoing basis. So weeklies it is.

As you can see in the first picture, I’ve stuck in a sheet of lined paper between the weekly pages for overflow To Do’s. This actually works pretty well. At the end of the day I can copy (neatly) whatever I will need to refer back to (like the date I paid a bill or mailed something to a friend **wink**) into the tiny day block and when the sheet gets full, I can just toss it and stick in another one.

My only legit beef with the Giada (and all FC really) is that they have tiny subject tabs, and you need 12 of them to form a full set. I only need 3 or 4, and the asymmetry really gets on the last nerve of my OCD. The best I could come up with was this:

Hey, we do what we can...

Hey, we do what we can…

Essentially, this is a pink page marker that I’ve labeled “Capture”, which is my main tab. Anything and everything goes here until I can figure out where it really goes. The thing you sort of see in the middle is just the FC Page Marker ruler that’s in my diary pages, so pay no attention to it for top  tab purposes. Then you’ll see a lime green sticky tab that says “Quotes”. This is just stuck to the first page of a bunch of note paper that I’ve designated for, you guessed it, quotes.

These kluged tabs will do, but I’m not really that excited about them.

On to the second dog (the big dog, if you will). This is the Levenger Circa system but, as you could probably predict, with some tweaks. Because you know I gots ta tweak ; )

I love, love, love the page size in this baby. It is the exact same as a Filofax A5 page, but Levenger does not up-size the cover much at all, so the whole footprint is pretty much the same as the page. Therefore while the page is nice and large to write on, the whole book doesn’t feel like a behemoth to drag around with you.

Check it out…the Giada is smaller, but not that much smaller.

Giada on top of Circa

Giada on top of Circa

Giada in front, Circa behind

Giada in front, Circa behind

Lined up with the spines flush, the exterior of the Giada is 1″ narrower and 1.5″ shorter than the exterior of the Circa. But I can tell you from using both, the FC pages are a lot smaller when you go to write on them.

Biiiiig difference!

Biiiiig difference!

The downside to Circa is that it has the bare minimum of interior pockets/function and if you mess around with your planner as much as I do, the mushroom shaped slits that secure the pages around the discs tend to get sloppy (with truly abused pages, you can simply run scotch tape over the edges and re-punch, so at least there’s that). Also, the Levenger leather covers offer no means of closure.

So…I resurrected the Martha Stewart plastic one I got in my initial Staples splurge. It has that Moleskine-like elastic closure. Turns out I sorta dig that.

Here it is on top of my (also Martha Stewart) aqua Letter sized disc 2013  journal.

Disc books

MS Junior sized disc planner (sadly just plastic) with Levenger Kyoto 1″ discs

You can see the elastic closure doing it’s thing. Here are some pics of it in action:

Inside the front cover

Inside the front cover

Functionality is meh. The inside has a half-secretarial pocket and three card slots. Better than nothing, but just barely. I have a zip pocket inserted in the front to hold more stuff.

Sticky note dashboard of heaven

Sticky note dashboard

Next I have a sticky note holder insert that j’adore. Behind that you can see the colorful (Arc brand, by the way) plastic tabs.



Ah, the glory and wonder of having subject tabs! My tabs of choice are (in order, so pay attention, there may be a quiz later), Capture, Quotes, Info, Goals and Planning. Pretty self-explanatory really.

Capture, I’ve already described countless times in my posts, so if you read me at all, you know what it’s about.


Info holds those Special Days sheets that come with all planner refill packs, future planning sheets, and some graph paper.

Goals is the section that will hold my resolutions and where I will track how I kick their ass as the year progresses.

Planning is just a header tab to my diary inserts. Again…OCD…the set came with 5 tabs; gotta use them all or pay the price in my own head. But hey, at least I can have subject tabs in this option, and fudging one beats the hell out of coming up with nine no doubt extraneous topics to fill a whole row of twelve.

The 2 page spread

The 2 page spread

Speaking of planning, here is the Levenger (what they call) Daily insert. Technically, it’s a 2PPD layout. One inch discs are designed to hold a quarter at a time.

The left side is for appointments

The left side is for Appointments

On the left are appointment slots from 7am to 7pm and a handy little note section at the bottom. I love how even the appointment page has check boxes. This way, if a meeting gets cancelled, all I have to do is place an “x” in the box and I know it didn’t happen. No messy white out or erasing. Which is good, because if you remember, these are the pages that had the major erase fail.

(Side note, in case you were wondering, I got a full refund for the inserts from Levenger and didn’t even have to return them. Yay for customer service!)

Right side is for Tasks

Right side is for Tasks

On the right is a really pretty great To Do section, complete with my beloved check boxes. Again there is a little note section at the bottom.

Monthly tabs : )

Monthly tabs : )

As all savvy planner companies know (she said sarcastically), monthly tabs are a key element to happy Plannerds, so Levenger Daily inserts come with a full complement of nice, large, easy to read monthly tabs.

Inside the back cover is, well, nothing.

Just a single, lonely pen loop

Just a single, lonely pen loop

I have compensated somewhat by adding a pocket insert, but obviously when comparing, the interior of the Giada wins the day.

At least this pocket insert is double sided...

At least this pocket insert is double sided…

I am drawn to the Circa for these reasons:

* Roomy page size without the weight of a FC Classic or weight (and bulk) of a FF A5.

* The fact that it folds back on itself. This isn’t critical for the planner part, but when writing in my subject tabs or taking notes, lemme tell ya…it rocks.

*If needed, I could easily add larger discs (or smaller, but that seems unlikely knowing me) without effing up my entire book, having to buy a whole new book and/or doing any of the dreaded re-copying.

The downside here is a dearth of peppy colored, higher end covers. The leather  Levenger ones stick pretty much to black, red and saddle tan (yawn). The seasonal colors (like that Teal one I picked up) are nice but pricey, and still lack any means of closure.

Martha (the only one with the elastic straps) seems to have a pale aqua blue or black only thing going with her line, and although Arc does have some cool colors, the leather ones are too poofy to lay flat when folded back on themselves, the plastic ones have nary a pocket nor pen loop to be found, and neither of them have closures.

Yes, I know, there are book bands out there on the market I could use…but I want my band attached to my book. Otherwise I’ll just lose it or forget it somewhre, or the dog will eat it resulting in an expensive vet bill.

So there you have it. Right now I am (pathetically) carrying around both and updating each daily, in the hopes that I will gravitate toward one over the other in time.

I’m giving myself to the end of January to get this all figured out and then I’m having myself committed just going to go with which ever one I happen to have in my damn bag on the 31st and try to salvage my life.

Bottom line, the Circa is much better to write in, but lacks interior functionality (and although the discs are neat and all, they do come with a price; its super easy to change out disc sizes, sure, but you do lose that “snapped shut” feeling of ring security) and the Giada has awesome pockets and stuff but sucks in the subject tab department and isn’t that pleasant to do lengthy note taking or any real writing in.

Please don’t make me do another poll…just give me your two cents in the comments this time.

See, I told you I was lazy ; )



13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Laurie
    Jan 08, 2013 @ 21:59:40

    This is a tough one, because neither of them completely fits the bill. You want a colorful cover, with pockets. You want DPP or 2PPD, as many months as possible. You want a decent size page, large tabs, and monthlies with tabs.

    Do you have a happy-colored FC Compact binder with 1 inch or larger rings? Because that’s what I’m thinking might do the job.


  2. thezeitgeistofzoe
    Jan 08, 2013 @ 22:47:46

    @laurie: sadly no, I have a black one, the silver zipped one I did a zipper-ectomy on and the plum giada. seems like the larger ringed ones they tend to keep in business-friendly colors.

    what I should probably do is keep a separate notebook and just leave my planner for planning. but I don’t seem to want to do that, lol!

  3. Gina
    Jan 09, 2013 @ 05:02:33

    Sigh. No answers for you as I’m in the same boat trying to find the perfect set up. Glad I’m not the only one though! I love your posts and can definitely relate to the OCD!!!

  4. Susan Stanway
    Jan 09, 2013 @ 12:45:22

    Dangit, Zoe! Why you gotta make your arguments so darn convincing. The battles in your brain must just be epic, some days. Girlfriend, I’m here for you and will support whichever way you chose. 😉 Stay strong, you can do it! LOL

  5. Josh LaPorte
    Jan 09, 2013 @ 13:54:00

    I think that “pretty binders” is a major reason why folks migrate from FC to FFX. I’m intrigued by the Circa and Arc systems but worry, seriously, about how those punched pages would hold up over a year’s worth of use. As you say, you can tape and repunch the edge, but that seems likely to look pretty fugly(?).

    I’m wondering if your Veronica could be dyed… but then I recall it has fabric lining so probably not. Parenthetically, they were offering the Veronica last night on the FC website at a DRASTICALLY reduced price (Like $35 or something). I’m so annoyed with the slow-as-molasses shipping offered by FC that I don’t know if I will ever buy anything directly from them again. This is seriously absurd… and I even payed a few bucks extra for speedier service…. I would hate to know how long their cheap option would take to arrive! Like six months? Perhaps they ship via old-mare express from Salt Lake City?

    Sorry, I’m off on a tangent. Why not get more vinyl inserts for your Circa book and just use that?

    Sometimes I think what we really need is a company that specializes in custom work who will build a binder to suit your needs. Like a “menu” of features and specifications which can be mixed and matched and -voila- you have what you need. I think most of us KNOW what we need/want more or less. And we buy binder after binder trying to find it. And everything misses the mark for some reason.

    At any rate, good luck with your decision. I kinda am not feeling your love for the Giada but it sounds like you’re not too thrilled with Circa either. A quagmire!

  6. Amy
    Jan 09, 2013 @ 19:22:24

    Well I wonder if using both is a possibility as you mentioned? I primarily use compact / personal FFs for planning / diary pages & lists. I have an A4 ARC at work which I love & an A5 at home. I see your dilemma, I would really miss the safety of the FF clasp & all the pockets! I guess it depends on what you need with you & when as I like my FF to be kept quite simple & tidy & don’t need everything with me all the time but that may not work for you. Good luck with the decision making, something I’m notoriously rubbish at 🙂 Amy

  7. kanalt17
    Jan 10, 2013 @ 10:56:01

    Hmm, I know you and I briefly talked about using the circa/levenger paper inside the Filofax – what was our conclusion there? – because I see that as possibly the only way to get everything you want, although in this case, I guess you’d be putting the paper inside the FC binder, which would only work if you had the FC (or compatible) punch.

    I used to think I had big dilemmas with me binder, but you definitely got me beat there, lol! Good luck with the decision!

  8. kivahcanyon (@kivahcanyon)
    Jan 10, 2013 @ 13:41:17

    I’ve off-and-on used Arc books for notes over the past couple of years – even bought the big punch – but ultimately find I do not like the little tabs getting bent and funky. You can only reposition them so many times before they need reinforcing.And I find I just don’t reposition all that much. I’d go with your FC binder and make the best of the page size. .

  9. Savannah
    Jan 10, 2013 @ 20:23:42

    I think using the Giada for a planner and the Levenger as a notebook is a pretty clever idea. I think that FC has POV cut away sheets you could use for your daily log if you feel as particular as I would. I’m going through planner hell right now myself and I know it’s almost impossible to advise on such things. Maybe the wrong suggestion leads to the right choice? I believe we are both feeling alot of stress right now? I just put it all away, plopped my pages in a planner with a very simple set up that will work even if not perfect, and am letting it rest for a while. I have too many to select from (the burden of choice), but I’ve narrowed it down to three. This craziness always happens when my current system is not fitting my needs any longer, I want to experiment with all the wonderful options, and/or I feel overwhelmed. The results – CHAOS. Even when I do figure out what I need sometimes I just don’t like what I really need. It’s like I really need a mini van as a family car but I want a Porsche! I hope you feel settled in and comfortable soon! Now if Filofax had decent writing paper…..argh.

    I read this and it helped some:

  10. thezeitgeistofzoe
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 19:50:20

    thanks for all the support you guys : ) so nice to know i’m not alone in wracking my brains trying to get this sorted!!

    i think what it’s going to come down to is giada for planning and circa for everything else (notebook, goals, projects, etc). generally i prefer to be a “one book” kind of girl, but that may not be possible with my life the way it is right now.

    @josh: if ONLY there were a company out there offering customizable planners! that would be pure nirvana!

    Jan 12, 2013 @ 02:12:39

    I feel your pain! It’s especially difficult when you feel like you need something different for EACH day because each day is different! My life has no routine or structure right now and I feel like I need a different format each day, depending on what’s going on. It’s very frustrating!

    That Giada binder is gorgeous! I’m lucky enough to have a Franklin Covey store nearby so I’ve looked at it in person. But there’s no way I can handle the 3/4″ rings. My Her Point of View green binder has 1.25″ rings. I did get that Veronica that was on sale for $35 that Josh mentioned and it’s rings are 1.125. I got it really fast but I’m not sure I like it. I’m not crazy about that stupid buckle on the front. I love the Filofax binders but I can’t stand putting FC inserts in them. I wish I could combine the two and have everything fit.

    Good luck with your decision. I know how hard it is.

  12. skhen
    Jan 12, 2013 @ 17:27:37

    Your planner paralysis conumdrum mirrors mine. Loved your post. Need to run for now but will comment more later.

  13. Jotje
    Jan 14, 2013 @ 10:52:26

    I’m also leaning towards the Giarda. At least for its inserts. Since Filofax can’t properly handle FC tabbed inserts, and since FC is apparently not able to produce a large ring size and bright colors, I suggest you do the same as me: leave FC-binders behind, get yourself a brighly colored and super versatile Daytimer Malibu binder (that I blogged about) and stuff it with your FC inserts. It’s so huge, that it takes the tabs and has room left.
    The rings are 26 mm (no idea how that translates into inches, but at least it’s more than one inch.

    Good news, btw, that Levenger gave you a full discount on the non-erasable inserts! Pity they didn’t do the same when I complained about them …
    Anyway, all in the past now…
    LOVE LOVE LOVE them FC 2PPD inserts!

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