Anyone who knows me at all, personally or professionally, tends to think of me as very “techie” . . . so it may come as a surprise that my latest obsession in productivity + organization gear requires neither batteries nor a charging cable. Lately, I’ve been REALLY digging customizable notebook systems for collecting and capturing information. I first discovered these high-end, customizable notebooks when I was getting ready to deliver my first GTD Essentials training session. Before my classes began, I decided to run to Staples and pick up a few extra examples of GTD gear to show the participants several different ways that they can implement their own GTD systems. Since MY system was fairly gadget-centric, I decided that I needed to pick up a few paper-based items to demonstrate anyone who might like to go that route.

Once at Staples, I came across a fantastic display of components that can be used to create the exact type of notebook that anyone could want or need. You can mix and match your preference of notebook covers, paper refills and accessories and everything is bound together with these little plastic discs. I went ahead and splurged on enough items to assemble a full paper-based GTD system, complete with an Inbox section (with blank papers and pockets for holding small scraps) as well as divided sections for Calendar, Next Actions, Projects and Project Support. The gear review during my GTD Essentials class is always a crowd favorite and I know of several participants who quickly purchased their own notebook systems after seeing my demo.

Arc customizable notebook from Staples

Arc customizable notebook from Staples

Over the last couple of months, my job role has transitioned a bit and I’m finding myself with a lot more days of back-to-back meetings. And, as much as I LOVE my iPad and other high-tech stuff, I found that I’m slower at note-taking on the iPad unless I tote around a keyboard. So, I decided a few weeks ago to go ahead and invest in my own customizable notebook system. My notebook, however, is NOT a full GTD framework . . . I’ve set mine up as a collection / capture tool and a place to temporarily house documents that I need to present to others. And whether I’ve been at my desk or in conference room meetings, I’ve really enjoyed the simplicity and ease of capturing thoughts, ideas and information. But, like any good collection tool, I quickly process the actionable items from my notebook into OmniFocus and then trash and/or scan my notes into Evernote. For the most part, I try to keep my notebook a blank canvas that attracts me into capturing. After only a few short weeks, I would have a really hard time letting go of my customized notebook and I finding myself wanting some of the fancy-schmancy “Circa” gear on Levenger, especially one of those gorgeous covers that double as a velcro-detachable iPad cases!

Hello note-capturing lover . . . .


In my opinion, it has been totally worth the little extra splurge to buy the desktop punch that allows me to punch my own items and create my own refills.

M by Staples™ Arc System Desktop Punch, 8 Sheet Capacity ($39.99)

M by Staples™ Arc System Desktop Punch, 8 Sheet Capacity ($39.99)

The bottom line is that I absolutely LOVE these customizable notebook systems, and will DEFINITELY be purchasing more of them. And, as I understand the Circa products from Levenger ARE compatible with the Arc products from Staples . . . nice! (In my experience, Staples almost always has a great deal going on or coupons available for these products!)

For Additional Information . . .
Staples | Arc Customizable Notebook System
Levenger | Circa Notebook System
David Seah | Staples Arc Notebook
The Fountain Pen Network | Staples Arc vs. Levenger Circa

GTD® and Getting Things Done® are registered trademarks of David Allen & Co.

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