Party at the Disc…oh

As you are aware if you read me regularly, I have been here, there and everywhere as to which planner I want to use now that the new year is upon us.

Spoiler: I still am.

However, I do have a couple tricks up my sleeve that I want to try out but alas, some of the components haven’t arrived yet.

(**cough** Franklin Covey inserts)

I swear, they ship via tortoise.

Anyway, it’s a radical experiment I’m going to try that basically involves using ONLY monthlies and some note sheets, and…are you sitting down…not archiving tasks.


That’s right, tasks are jotted down on some disposable medium, such as sticky notes or Hot Lists or such, and then tossed when filled.

Radical.  Yet somehow compelling. At the end of the day, the planner is neater rather than more cluttered.

In the interim, I have thrown together a nifty little experiment in it’s own right…it is a Levenger Circa plastic cover in “Compact” size with Levenger 3/4″ teal aluminum discs.


Here it is closed. The plastic shell I picked up on eBay as a plain old notebook for practically nothing. I actually made that polka dot cover out of a spare 3-ring binder tab I had. Since I own the Arc punch, I just cut it to the right size, punched it and voila, cute colorful cover.

My first issue with the Levenger clear plastic covers is that they are just that…plastic covers. No functionality whatsoever. Not even a pen loop.

My solution:

sticky pen loop
I picked up a Leuchtturm pen loop and stuck that baby right on the inside of the back cover. Levenger sells the black ones, but the Leuchtturm website sells all kinds of neat colors.

Admittedly, it was frustratingly tight at first, but happily it seems to be breaking in, and these days I don’t feel like I’m wrestling a crocodile trying to slip my pen in.

My second issue is that, although very budget friendly, these covers lack any kind of closure.

My solution:

elastic band
I snagged a large purple rubber band from my file drawer and inserted it in between the cover and the disc in a “mushroom” approximately half way up the height of the cover. It may not be glamorous, but it stays in place and it works.

Looking at the back, you can see the stick-on pen loop and the rubber band wrapped around. I suppose I could make a cover for the back too, however since it is merely a temporary solution, I remain unmotivated.

And now for my next trick:

filo zip
Since the plastic covers are also sans pockets, I Arc punched a Filofax Personal size zip envelope. Perfect fit!

Filofax Personal size inserts/refills are the exact same size as Levenger Circa Compact inserts/refills; the only difference is that Filofax is a 6-hole, ring bound system and Levenger Compact is a 7-hole (or smurf, or mushroom…I don’t actually know what they are officially called), disc bound system.

filo vs mushrooms
The mushrooms and the holes don’t quite meet up, but honestly it’s not that bad looking, even to my rampant OCD. The envelope is still held securely and now I can carry my stickers around ; )

What I am really liking is Levenger’s daily planner page layout:

The left page is entirely comprised of appointment slots, from 7am to 7pm. At the bottom there are a few lines for Notes. The right page, on the other hand, is entirely delegated to Tasks. Even having a nice check column. At the bottom you get the same small Note section.

My next favorite layout is Franklin Covey, however even on their 2PPD inserts, the right page is split in two, squeezing in both the Task List and Appointments, and the entire right page is left for notes. All fine and good, however my handwriting is big, loopy and juvenile; Levenger’s layout means I don’t have to write small or abbreviate.

To complete my hack, I threw this together with some Franklin Covey Her Point of View “Compact” monthly tabs (at the time I didn’t know Levenger made monthly tabs for this size) that Staples kindly trimmed for me, and I Arc punched at home.

I think the colorful tabs go nicely with the polka dot cover!

teal discs
The teal 3/4″ discs (which come standard on most Levenger Circa notebooks…these originally came with a Teal Leather cover I had previously ordered but have since decided I don’t like the color of) will hold one quarter of annual inserts in 2 Pages per Day.

In my book, I just have January and February because I wanted room for a Capture tab.

Another kluge, it is just a sticky tab with a custom label on it, attached to the top of a blank sheet of paper. Again, not pretty, but functional.  Behind it I just have some note paper.

“This thing is so bitchin’, why is it only temporary solution”, you ask?

It started because there was such a lack of any sort of accessories for Levenger’s Compact and because I didn’t (and frankly still don’t) want to spring for the single Compact binder available…which is black leather and $69…in order to get pockets and a pen loop.  I seem to be overcoming that obstacle, albeit not terribly attractively.

I feel like a Tween carrying this thing into meetings and, as much fun as I’ve had hacking this thing together, I really do want whatever planner I decide upon to be something nicer and a lot more professional.

The other factor that holds me back from just giving in and using this is the fact that I can only fit 2 months of dailies. Yes, I could put bigger discs on it, but I tried that. With 1″ discs it looked somewhat clunky and would only accommodate one more month anyway. With discs any bigger than that, it just plain looked silly. Like a planner version of a monster truck.

And since I’m trying to put together an organizer that works and not trying to compensate for a micro-penis, the oversized discs didn’t cut it.

When my Monthly Only Experiment materials come in (which I will carry out in my Franklin Covey Compact Giada) this is going to become my Weight Watchers notebook, so it will still be used and well loved…just not as my planner.

But in the mean time, I just wanted to show you this planner hack…and I needed an excuse to write a blog post while I wait for stupid FC’s shipping department to get me my damn refills!

Planner Pergatory – What Do I Really NEED In My Planner

Well folks, I’m about to change the name of this blog to “the Zeitgeist of Neurosis”, because I am still all over the place with my planner choice for 2013.

The problem is not my planner…it is my life. It keeps changing.

I know, I know…life is change, adapt or die, blah, blah, blah. I get it.

I’m not complaining about the ebb and flow of my life; in fact I quite enjoy the spontaneous challenging nature of it. Every day is an adventure…I actually love that about my life; it’s never boring!

Trouble is, I need to write more and more stuff down these days because I simply can’t remember all of it anymore, and finding the ideal medium for managing the adventure is what is causing me fits.

I was sick this past weekend. Trapped in my house. Forty-eight hours of jammies and one helluva Nyquil buzz. And so, predictably, I dubbed around with planners. Like, I mean a LOT. As in, I was in and out of three different ones before my right hand became exhausted and gnarled from re-copying and I gave up.

Typically, I have used my paper planner (I use digital planning tools as well, though only as a backup and for the handy dandy audible reminders) as both a tool for planning the future and as a snapshot of the days/weeks/months.  An ongoing archive if you will.

So I write down a shit ton of stuff. I track minutia like the weather, my mood, how I felt physically, whether or not I flossed or remembered to take my multi vitamin.

I write down stuff after it happens even. If I spend the day out and about with a friend, it’s not enough that I allocate the chunk of time I’m going to need, I have to go back that night and detail everything we did. Lunch at 1pm here, shopping from 3-5 here, here and here, movies from 7-9, this movie, that theater.

Smacks of the crazies now that I see it in undeniable type in front of my eyes.

Thing is, do I NEED all this information in what is supposed to be my planner?  In fact, do I need to know that stuff AT ALL? One could argue that no, I don’t. One could argue that whatever says I do need it is actually my OCD talking.

Do I need that stuff in my planner or am I drifting into the realm of the unhealthy and trying (in vain I might add) to exert control over my day/life by writing every last detail about every little thing down?

That’s what I thought.

So what, exactly, must I have in my planner in order to accomplish it’s one true job…PLANNING?

Two things really…where I need to be and what I need to do. Period.

Where I need to be:

1. I need dates & times for appointments/meetings. Both personal & professional.

2. My work schedule is the same every day, but I like jotting my boyfriend’s schedule down because that does change every week.

What I need to do:

1. I need to know when my bills are due.

2. I need other important dates such as birthdays or anniversaries (and ideally I need these ON the day or I won’t remember them) so I can send cards, buy presents, attend parties, etc.

3. I need to know about the day’s tasks.

The majority of my day, both for work and personally, is task-related. I have already taken my work tasks out of the picture and relegated them to their own (messy) Steno pad at work, that stays at work and gets archived at work.

So it is now only my personal tasks that I have to figure out what to do with. And I think I might be doing a bit of overkill in that regard.

In reviewing my daily schedule for today, for example, I see that I have “Shaw’s” (my local grocery store) scheduled at 5:00 pm in my appointments and also “grocery shopping” listed in my task section.  Wasteful. I don’t need it both places…I know very well I have to get this done today or eat crackers for supper tonight. Again.

And that is not a chore I need any sort of record of, so it seems better suited left as a task.

Other than noting what days I pay a given bill, or meet a deadline (which are few and manageable), who really cares whether or not I have an archive of when I took out the recycling, emptied the litter box or cleaned the house?!

Couldn’t those things be kept, not on a daily planner page that is pricey and may or may not be enough (or too little) space for any given day, thus causing me to purchase several incarnations of them each year in the hopes one will work, but rather on a disposable sheet of note paper?  As long as I have the satisfaction of checking stuff off when I complete it (because you know me…I love to check shit off!), I seriously don’t need to keep my task lists for posterity.

This leaves me with NEEDING only monthly tabs that have nice sized blocks to write appointments in (lined please) and some note sheets…or even better…To Do sheets to make up my planner.

Sounds easy enough.

Where I get stuck is that I also like to be able to jot down cool quotes I come across, or work on projects throughout my day.

I will typically have a few personal projects going at any given time; writing stuff, fitness goals, the upcoming move in March, etc. so my tendency is to want a large book that can accommodate these items as subject tabs.

But those things have nothing to do with planning.

I think what has been causing me to chase my tail  lately has been trying to do, essentially, three things in one book; plan, record personal details and manage projects.

Hence the fail.

I have a journal…I don’t need journaly stuff in my planner; personal stuff is best kept to a personal book. In 5 years I won’t care to look back and discover that I took my vitamin & flossed like a good girl on the same day that there was a Board Meeting! So that’s solved. Personal details  will henceforth go in the journal.

Now, what if I separate out my subject tabs into their own book.

Say, oh I dunno…a nice disc bound notebook, with which I find myself well stocked these days?

The paper is stellar, the sheets nice and large, I can still carry it with me and dig into projects on my lunch break or whatever; but it’s not something I would need with me 24/7 like, you know…a planner.

That way I can get away with what I crave – a small, portable system that would fit in any handbag I elected to use, and go with me always and everywhere without being cumbersome.

Yeah? Huh? Ya feelin’ it?

I think I am.

Whaddya think? Just monthly tabs and To Do sheets that get tossed when they are filled up. Planning only. Sleek & portable.

Can she do it? SHOULD she do it?

Chime in below…

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 ; )



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 : )

Suddenly Craving Chowda

Okay, so my impulse buy  Slimline Boston just arrived.

“f-ing right!”

Obviously, I haven’t had time to play with it or “move in” yet, but here is a quick first impression:

“it’s wicked pink”

I would describe this as a darker, more blue-hued pink than any of the other Filo’s I have. Below you can see it piled on top of a Deep Pink Domino A5 (my current fave shade of Filofax pink) and my hot pink Otterbox iPad Mini case for comparison.

It’s almost a Raspberry. Not quite there, but almost. When I do the full review I will show it against virtually all the pink Filo’s I own. And trust me, that’s kind of become A LOT while you guys weren’t looking, so…be ready.

“flat, right outta da bohx”

The leather is quite nice, very soft and pliable without being floppy, but as Laurie said in her review, I was very disappointed that considering what I paid for this baby (even on sale from Pens & Leather) it has cheap feeling fabric inside rather than leather.

The Filofax website describes the Boston this way, “This classic design is both elegant and sophisticated, and is crafted in luxury Nappa leather. Each Boston is marked with a silver metal ‘f’ – the assured sign of impeccable quality. Boston is the perfect chic accessory.

Um…using words like “elegant”, “sophisticated”, “luxury” and “impeccable quality” and then slapping an el cheapo fabric liner inside is a wicked pissah.

I dunno. I’m tryin here, I really am. But I’m not actually FROM Boston.

Anyway, the interior of a Finsbury feels nicer for crying out loud. Come on Filofax…if you’re going to charge us for a high-end binder, don’t skimp on materials.

Here’s a shot of the embossing inside the front cover. Yes, the leather is “deluxe”. Thing is…the whole thing isn’t leather.

As was mentioned in the comments to Laurie’s review, the leather is a bit cushy.  So while this binder is called a Slimline, at 1 1/2″ thick, I don’t know how slim I’d consider it.

And that’s without a pen (or pens…it has 2 loops) in the pen loop. Yikes.

The rings appear to be typical for a Slimline, at about 1/2″.

The back does have a cool, full length slip pocket that could be quite useful for a checkbook register, if one were going to use this as a planner/wallet combo…which is my plan.

“or put your dollahs here for when you go to the packie”

So all in all…is this a nice binder? Yes. Do I feel it’s worth the premium price? Faaaaack no.  Filofax is getting a bit out of hand with their penchant for fashion over function, and is charging us an awful lot of money for increasingly shoddy product quality. This is a $60 binder; $70 tops, given it’s crappy fabric lining.

Right now on Filofax USA you can snag a brown Holborn Slimline on sale for $59.50. If that came in actual colors, I’d have gone with that over this in a crack whore’s heartbeat.

That being said, will I return it? I have no idea at this point. I like the odd color and none of the Slim’s or Compacts on the market right now really float my boat, so I’ll have to go home, set it up, play with it a bit and see.

Stay tuned for a full review of use, and mega pink comparison!


Go Big or Go Home

Alright, I know I said I hoped to go smaller rather than larger with my 2013 planner, but then one night last week, something happened.

Something wonderful.

The iPad Mini I got up at 3:00 in the morning to pre-order back in…whenever that was… arrived in all it’s feather light, distractingly beautiful glory.

I was lounging on my sofa, playing with it (blog review to come on that soon, promise!) and wondering if Filofax would come up with a planner/holder for it, like they recently have for the, ahem, “MaxiPads”.

The Mini is roughly the same size as a Filofax Personal and only slightly smaller than an A5 page, and so I was pondering which size planner they would use for it, A5 like with the “Maxi” or Personal just to be different?  And more importantly, if they did create a planner & case for the Mini, would I actually buy one?

ipad mini with smart cover in comparison to the note pad on a filofax a5

Then I had an “aha moment” and went into the Filo bin for the glorious Ochre Malden so kindly and awesomely gifted me by Erin. Would, I wondered, the Mini fit in the pocket intended for a note pad inside the back?


And it even accommodated the Smart Cover.

This, as the saying goes, was about to change everything.

I had dubbed around with the A5 a few weeks prior, but ended up back in my trusty Personal  with FC inserts after one measly day because I couldn’t figure out workable diary pages for it.

But this was different. My A5 2013 refills had yet to arrive at that point, so I was kluging together reject inserts from the storage bin rather than setting up a new planner. Big difference.

And now I had the Mini to factor in as well. I was pretty excited to get my planner mojo on.

My only beef was that, although I love the Ochre Malden – it is one of my fave Filo’s of all time  (the OLD ones…before they went all crinkly and stiff) – I am very much into color right now.

Ochre is, of course, very subtle and neutral. I thought I could maybe jazz it up on the inside, and that would be enough for whatever is going on with me that is making me crave hot pink like a pregnant woman craves pickles and ice cream.

Once I got all moved in, however, a couple things became apparent. One was that the color (or, in this case, the lack thereof) wasn’t gonna cut it for me. Is it a beautiful planner? Hells yes. But I’m not in the mood for beautiful & vintage lately…I’m in the mood for BRIGHT.

The second was that a fully loaded leather A5 planner with an iPad Mini in the back pocket was simply going to be too heavy and cumbersome for me to want to carry around. So while I could carry the Mini around in it, in real world use I probably never would.

Right. Back to the Hot Pink Domino I went. And all felt right with the world once again.

You may remember this planner as my former Fit-o-Fax. So yeah, I gave up any attempts at fitness (for now) and decided to hell with trying to play Dr. FrankenFilo and create a Mini holder when I already have both an Otter Box Defender case and a  Smart Cover for the thing.

Anyway…less talk, more pictures! Here’s what I came up with for the Hot Pink Domino:

same binder…new sticker : )

isn’t it pretty?! ***love***

Here’s the inside front. A card my Mum gave me in the ID pocket, some business cards, a few stickers. The usual.  See the orange, pink and green sticky flags tucked into that bottom pocket?  More on those later.

My start page is a transparent flyleaf with the old Goddess sticker from the Fit-o-Fax. I liked it and didn’t want to waste it when I peeled it off the front, so I just stuck it here. Still seems fitting ; )

The green & orange jot notes are a couple of my favorite quotes right now. I like seeing them when I first open my binder.

Now comes my monthly overview.

I have to highlight the actual month so I don’t get confused (I’m blonde you know) and I don’t care for the week starting on Monday, but hey, I can deal. And although I really, seriously prefer to have tabbed months,  Filofax seems to insist that our repeated cries for them in fact mean “Please release more crappily put together and/or hideous, useless designer binders and leave us in the dark ages with inserts that are never updated”.

So, no tabbed months, but I am going to try using a 2nd Page Marker so that I can at least easily flip to the current month and see if that does the trick. Right now I have all of 2012 and 2013 included, but once January comes, 2012 will exit stage left.

Next I have my first three tabs:

Capture – the GTD universal capture tool. Just some graph paper for jotting down stuff, sketching, whatever is needed to capture anything and everything. Items in the capture section are temporary. They either get done & crossed off quickstyle or moved somewhere else.

To Do – since I’m using weekly inserts, I figured a section of To Do pages might come in handy. Generally I like my tasks on my daily view, but there isn’t much room on a weekly sheet. Overflow can go here if the new strategy for tasks (which I really am going to get to in a minute) ends up a massive fail.

Quotes – I am a self-confessed quote junkie. By far the most blank note sheets go here. When this section is filled up, the sheets get removed and put into my Commonplace Book ( a plain ol’ Moleskine notebook).

Now, smack dab in the middle of the book, come my diary pages. Having them in the middle (theoretically – I need to fill up the sections with more blank sheets first) makes them easier to write on.

I’ve started the diary section with a Transparent Flyleaf. This serves both as a divider of the calendar from the last note sheet in the Quote section, and as a dashboard for sticky  notes and flags. Remember those flags from the inside front cover? Bazinga!

the dashboard gets its own colored flag…so it sticks out beyond the subject tabs and i can see the damn thing

In reviewing how I most use my planner in preparation for deciding what I was going to change for 2013, I noticed that I have a lot of recurring items. Most of my meetings are the same every month and aside from the day to day minutia, a lot of what I have to do in a given week repeats as well.

This was why the weekly pages weren’t working before; I wasted too much of the scant writing space on repetitive items (mostly tasks) and ended up with no room to write in anything else that I needed to.

Hence my new and, I think, pretty exciting STICKY FLAG SOLUTION !!!

Recurring tasks and meetings will now go on colored sticky flags.

Green for bills (money), bright pink for meetings (hot) and orange for tasks/reminders (danger…of forgetting, lol).

here you can see this week. errands i want to run but realistically may or may not get to on that day, go on the sticky flags

When the item is completed, it can either get moved forward to the next time it will be due or, if that is TBD, it can go back to the dashboard staging area.

Since my meetings repeat but can often get moved around due to holidays or someone or other being out sick, using the sticky flag to “hold the spot” is perfect – if the meeting moves, it’s simple to just relocate the flag to the new date/time (with the added bonus that my page stays neat).

a couple of upcoming meetings in december. will they happen when they’re supposed to? probably. but if they don’t…no scribbling or white out needed

Once the meeting happens, I can write it in, as a record that it happened (in case I have to refer back).

I’m especially stoked about using this new strategy for bills. I have a slew of them and since I exclusively do online banking, I don’t get any paper statements in the mail.

Every month I get bill notifications via email and, up till now, have been writing in my planner when they are due. Then I write in “pay such and such” on the day I need to make the online payment in order for it to post to the account in time.

Now I can just use sticky flags : )

When the bill is paid, the flag can go back to the dashboard or, if its one of those bills that recur on the exact same day each month, it can just get carried forward to the following month.

For those “throw away” tasks that are sort of one-off’s,  I just use a standard, run of the mill sticky note.

ye olde tyme thanksgiving sticky list in progress

Then, at the end of the day when I review to make sure everything I needed to accomplish got done, I can write in the key items so that I have a record of them, and toss the sticky note.

It sounds rather psychotic, I know, but believe it or not it actually WORKS.

Not everything I set out to do in a given day actually needs to be logged in my planner; I just have to remember to do them. So the stuff that I do want to log gets logged, the rest gets tossed and my pages stay uncluttered.

Because I’m using weekly pages, I can fit an entire year in my book (which I really like) and it’s a hell of a lot easier to move flags around than it is to scratch stuff out and re-copy it several times, lemme tell ya!

Okay, back to my set up.  After my diary pages, come three more tabs. These are for my writing.

I have one for each blog I run and the last is for general writing gigs I’ve got lined up, or am trying to line up. If I have my way, eventually my writing will be in such demand that it will require it’s own Filofax ; )

Next just comes the note pad. Stuff that isn’t really worthy of  sticky flag or list of its own go here. Generally they are things that don’t have a due date, but that I want to remember to do or look up or whatever.

The best part about giving up on the Malden and using the Domino is the stretchy pen loop (actually, it’s “loops”, as in there are two; however I only use the one in the back) that will accommodate my beloved new Coleto 4-banger.

I have a smokey grey one (but I don’t do grey anymore it seems) and a pink one, but the pink  was “wrong” for the hue of the Domino and drove my OCD batshit crazy.

Yeah, I know.

JetPens called this baby “soft green”. But don’t kid yourself…it’s damn near yellow. I am, however, unfazed. It’s bright and spring-y and sufficiently compliments my favorite Life is Good sticker of all time…so, well, life is…you know, good and stuff : )

That’s the new A5 set up my peeps. What do you think? Do you have any predictions for the new sticky note/flag concept? Got feedback or tips to make a good planner even better?

Anyone care to place bets on how soon I go back to Personal? Bahahahaha!

Let ‘er rip in the comments…………………….

Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries