Sunday, August 17, 2008

Agenda Obsession

It's that time of year again.

Back to school. Up until my mid-thirties I still got pretty excited about back to school season. Even though it had been many years since I had actually gone to school myself, I still had that urge to buy new clothes and notebooks for a long time. Strangely, for the longest time the clothes I wanted were all tartan plaid. I blame this on a certain spread in Seventeen magazine that I saw as a teenager, where gazelle-like coeds lounged around some New England college campus clad in plaid.

But, now my excitement for fall and office supplies has been channeled into a minor obsession with finding the perfect agenda. I thought I was alone in this pursuit until one day last year I accidentally obliterated my planner by spilling coffee all over it - in mid-February. Frustrated by the prospect of buying a whole new organizer - again - so early in the year, I started looking online for templates to create my own. This search led me to, where legions of like-minded productivity enthusiasts congregate to debate the merits of paper vs. electronic, gush about their favorite journal, share planner templates, and worship at the altar of Levenger.

If you are not familiar with Levenger they are an extremely upscale stationery store. Their products are very expensive, but beautifully and thoughtfully designed. They have a notebook system called Circa that is based on a series of discs that fit into paper with punched holes that are slit to the edge of the paper. So unlike looseleaf and spiral-bound notebooks, you can add and remove paper without opening rings, moving pages around, or tearing anything.

Their Circa agenda system is the one I have been using for the past year and I've been pretty happy with it. I've been able to set it up so my monthly calendar spread is on the tabs that separate the weekly pages for each month. That way I'm forced to look at the whole month when it starts. Also, I'm able to take a piece of paper that's smaller than the planner pages, write my weekly To Do list on it, and attach it so it sticks up out of the top of the agenda, and use it as a bookmark.

So what's the problem? The size. When I spilled the coffee that day it also destroyed a number of papers I had tucked into the organizer to deal with while I was at work. My planner at the time was a nice compact one that seemed like the perfect size. However after the "incident" I vowed never to have unprotected documents again, so I moved up to the next size - 5 x 8.5. This has been great for having everything organized in a way that makes sense to me, and a monthly calendar that is big enough to actually see and use. What has not been great is the way my purse has expanded to fit this thing (which I first whined about here).

The other problem has always been that Levenger is the only place that sells a nice cover or folio that fits a Circa agenda comfortably. They are very beautiful rich leather notebook covers, but they are astronomical and almost too roomy - adding about a half inch on all sides to an already (in my opinion) oversized tome. I managed to find a cover that worked for a fraction of the price, but it is sticky plastic and a little small to fit everything I need - it just barely covers the edges of the pages.

So now the prospect of fall and school has me debating whether to keep this system or move back to a smaller size. And just to cloud my already overtaxed obsessed mind, I discovered that Levenger has a Circa jacket in an absolutely scrumptious-looking chocolate brown. I believe they call it "espresso" and it is what you see in the picture at the beginning of this post. And they don't seem to make it in the cheaper smaller size. I'm tempted to treat myself, but if I did I'd be committing to this size planner for pretty much the next decade to be able to justify the price. (And I am nothing if not a commitment-phobe. KosherCook can't believe that not only did I agree to marry him so quickly and easily, but also that I haven't returned him yet.)

And so dear friends, as you sit on the edges of your seats and wait with bated breath to see what momentous decision I make regarding my planner, rest easy in the knowledge that after only a month and a half of agonizing research, I at least - finally - ordered new cell phones for KosherCook and myself!

Will wonders never cease?


  1. Oh, I feel your pain!!! It's not uncommon for me to switch systems/planners mid-year. I have A-D-D when it comes to this sort of thing. All it takes is a flashier color, fancier packaging and I'm all over something new! I have to say, I was loyal to Franklin Covey for a good part of my working years but I've grown bored with him, too. Now, I just buy the cheap, uh I mean "smaller", stuff so I can justify changing my mind bi-annually!
    I'm anxious to see where you end up with this one my blog buddy...

  2. What about Franklin Planners? I had one for about 12 years. I finally moved to a Palm Pilot when my sister bought one for me....At times I still miss writing stuff down though....



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