This is the 2nd part of a 2 part review on the Levenger Circa Bookcloth Notebook. I will attempt to answer some questions that I received regarding the first post, however the main objective of this post will be to review the functionality of the notebook itself. In addition to posting individual pictures with this post, I am trying a quick video to show the notebook in action.
First let me start with a quick overview of the pricing for both the Levenger Circa notebook (also available via Amazon) and accessories that are covered in this review. As previously mentioned, the Letter Size Circa Notebook comes with 60 sheets of 8 1/2″W x 11 1/4″H paper, and it also comes bound with 11 of the 1/2″ discs. One of the nice things about the paper is that is a heavier stock, and most pens I have written on it with write very smoothly and show no bleed through or feathering. The price for this set up at time of purchase was $58 + shipping. In addition to the Levenger Circa Bookcloth Notebook itself, I also purchased:
-1 package of plastic multi-colored dividers (5 for $12)
-1 package of plastic multi-colored pocket dividers (5 for $12)
-1 page finder/ruler ($4)
-1 set of large 1″ discs (22 for $10) note that only 11 are needed for this size notebook
-1 2008/2009 fold out calendar, no longer available on Levenger site
The grand total for this notebook…$96 + shipping.
One item that I did purchase but did not include on the cost above was the desk punch ($58) which allows you to punch any documents you have which were created on regular paper. I will be doing a separate review on the punch at a later date, but I do find it to be an essential item to have if you use this notebook in a work setting. I have found many occasions where I have punched emails, calendar pages, and other documents so I could have easy access to them in my notebook.
The first thing you will notice in the video is that when I open the Levenger Circa Bookcloth notebook, you can see some storage areas on the inside of the cover. For size comparison I have included a standard size No. 10 business envelope in the larger pocket, and in one of the two smaller pockets I have places a 4″ x 6″ post card. I typically do not like to store too much in either of these three pockets because I don’t want the notebook to become unruly, plus they are a little on the tight side, so trying to slide too many sheets of paper in there probably would not work so well. On the other hand, if something is made of a thicker stock such as the post card I have shown, it makes it much easier to slid into the pocket.
Next you will notice on the right hand side, I have placed one of the plastic multi-colored (blue) pocket dividers. This divider will hold multiple 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheets of paper, along with any other smaller items. I only use one of these dividers, right in the front of my notebook and have saved the remaining 4 for other Circa notebooks I will be setting up at a later date. I like using that as my main storage compartment in the notebook as opposed to the pockets on the inside of the cover. I will usually store things in that pocket that I have printed at work and need to bring home so I can punch them (a second punch is coming soon so I have one at home and one at work) and place them where they belong in the notebook.
As I flip past the pocket divider you will see the one page, fold out calendar. Each month on the calendar is represented by a horizontal row, while the days of the week run across the top in columns. I purchased this not knowing if it would be particularly useful and practical, and have come to find out that is has been neither. I am sure that some people might find great value in it, but for me and my needs it just didn’t serve much purpose.
The next flip of the page reveals the first of five plastic tabbed dividers. In my particular set up I have the first section of my notebook dedicated to the multiple recurring weekly meetings that I attend regularly. For me this was the major win in getting to be more organized at work. Between the page layout and the ability to add and remove pages, I was able to have a system that would allow me to keep all of my weekly notes together for the same meetings. This method is much more effective than having a coil bound notebook where I had to flip all over the place to find my notes from previous meetings. I now was able to keep everything in chronological order in their own section of my notebook, and broken out by the different meetings. I was now much more efficient when it came to following up on issues from previous meetings and having a quick refresher on what we last spoke about. Following is a sample of a notes page:
Using this method, I create similar notes/follow up items for all of my other weekly meetings to help stay organized. As you can imagine, using this method is much more organized than my previous method where my notes would end up in multiple sections of the same notebook, or even different notebooks over time.
The rest of the Levenger Circa Bookcloth Notebook is dedicated to different projects and evenly divided between the tabs. Nothing incredibly complex in nature here in terms of organization, however it still creates a very flexible system where I can insert (using the punch) meeting handouts and emails regarding those projects so that all of my project info is together at all times.
The next thing shown in the video is how simple it is to remove and add a page in the Levenger Circa Bookcloth Notebook binding system. With one hand and very little effort you can remove a page, and with similar effort you can place it in any other section you want. The paper that comes with the notebook has stood up well to being moved several times. I think this can be attributed to the heavier weight of the paper, and also the soft edges where it is fastened to the rings. I prefer this system much more than the classic 3-ring binder system for many reasons. You will also notice that in the video I show an invoice from something (yes, more pens) that I bought online. The purpose of showing this was just to give a visual that even paper which is not the heavier stock Levenger brand still functions well with the binding system.
The biggest reason that I prefer this over the spring loaded ring system is that it is so much easier to just pull out and re-insert a sheet. No need to struggle (ok, I’m not weak or anything, but those 3-ring binders are a pain) to open the rings, or live in fear of catching a finger in the thing when it is time to close them back up. I also find that having multiple smaller contact points with the fastening system minimizes the amount of movement that you get from the individual pages, which is nice, it gives the notebook a very clean cut and tight feel.
As I flip my way through the rest of the tabs in the video, I finally come to the page finder and ruler which is the same thickness as the plastic dividers. I tend to move this around depending on what my calendar looks like during the day. I usually leave it strategically placed so I can just flip open to whatever my next meeting is and begin taking notes or working on related tasks.
The last part of the video shows the pen loop in the back of the Levenger Circa Bookcloth notebook. As I stated in the previous post, the pen loop has held up well and been able to hold any pen I’ve placed back there. The pen in there for the video is my Libelle Chromatic Rollerball in the Gunmetal color. I selected this pen because it is probably the thickest one I own, so I wanted to show the flexibility of what fits. You will notice however as I flip each tabbed section back I am fumbling (intentionally) with the tab and the pen. Depending on the size of the pen, you may need to adjust the tabs by tucking them under your pen so that the notebook closes properly. I don’t find this to be a major issue because once you do it, everything lays neatly and nothing is bent or ruined.
One thing I will note which is just a personal pet peeve is that my black Levenger Circa bookcloth notebook cover is somewhat of a dust magnet, so if you get annoyed by little specks of dust like I do I would highly suggest picking a color other than black!
In summary, I do believe that investing in the Levenger Circa notebook has been a great choice. Although the cost is a little on the higher side, the organizational improvements and conveniences that I have gained in my work life are very noticeable, not to mention that the quality and the durability of these products are second to none. For the few months that I have been using my notebook I have had multiple people that run the range from Administrative Assistants to Vice Presidents inquire about it and ask for the website so they could find out more. For anyone who is on the fence about this system, I would urge you to take a look at the Levenger site (Levenger is also available via Amazon with slightly better shipping prices in some cases) where they offer a starter kit for $40 which lets you get a hands on experience with the product. In addition to the starter kit, they also give you a $40 gift card which is good for a future purchase. If you like the starter kit, the $40 gift card is a great way to upgrade yourself to one of the Bookcloth or leather covers, and really begin to take advantage of all that the system has to offer.
EDIT: I forgot that I had one question regarding the ease of moving a large number of sheets at once. The simple answer is that it is not easy. I think anything more than 8-10 sheets at once needs to be done in smaller sections. I generally don’t see this as a problem though because for the most part, any of the reorganizing I have done has been one or two pages at a time, even during my initial set up. I think the nature of the notebook makes it such that you don’t suddenly decide you need a mass move.