The search for the perfect notebook plagues every writer, artist, and creative. It’s been my personal struggle for years, and each summer and winter I wander through the aisles of notebooks and paper supplies and look for a new solution to the notebook conundrum.
This summer I’ve been working on a few projects that require a variety of notebook sections, but I don’t want to carry around a dozen notebooks to work on projects as I see fit. My standard go-to solution would be a Filofax planner, but a series of complications has me unable to use my Filofax. I wanted something that would be sturdy, versatile, and flexible enough for a variety of uses, but also look good.
I first thought I would try the Circa by Levenger. I’ve used the Circa notebooks previously, but I had only used the Starter Kit. If I was going to use this system, I wanted something attractive AND funcional. Being cost-conscious and also vegetarian, I also didn’t want something leather. I was happy to find the Inside-Out Notebook, a vegan-friendly notebook with reversible covers. In the largest size (9″x12″), it came in a beautiful packaging with a labelled box and a chamois case to protect the material.
The only major downside to this notebook is its size in relation to carrying it around with me. So I thought I would try a second option, for easy travel in my bicycling bag. I wanted the same versatility as the Circa, but something a little more cost-effective.
Significantly more affordable, but with less diversity in the paper and accessories available, the M by Staples Arc Notebook Series is an alternative to the Circa series. I chose to get a smaller notebook with a poly cover so that I could carry it in my bike bag without it being cumbersome. Inside I’ve got a monthly calendar, pages for notes on my various projects, and some zipped pockets for carrying ephemera.
The benefit to these notebook systems is their versatility: either can be arranged and combined in a variety of ways to meet the needs and demands of my changing workload. Even better, the two systems use a nearly-identical ring and hole-punch system, so components from one will fit into the other, allowing for a greater diversity of combinations.
Unfortunately, neither one is perfect. In fact, I find myself wishing for some other, hybrid version of the two with a ring system (like the Filofax) for my project needs. The benefit of these two systems is that I can re-arrange the pages, tabs, and dividers in any fashion. Project notes from one section can easily be removed for copying or scanning, and added back into the notebook with ease. I can purchase filler paper for my Circa notebook from the Arc line, and vice-versa.
How do you create the perfect notebook?
I’m still working on finding a workflow that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing. I’ve got my projects in various places, and right now I know where everything is, but I’m still discovering what my business and personal needs for a notebook system are. I’d love to hear what you use, and how you discovered the best system for you.