Confessions Of a Hoarder: Levenger’s Circa Vivacious Refill

Levenger Vivacious Circa refill

I had a great aunt who lived in a historic looking brownstone in the heart of Albany, NY. She was eccentric and confused— both a hermit and a hoarder. There was a narrow goat path through the middle of her living space. Well, through the middle of EVERY space. Drop an earring and it was gone forever. (My mother found this out the hard way.) The table where she sat to eat her spare meals was covered with a huge pile of papers, photographs, and letters, some dating back to the 1930’s. After she died, we carefully sorted though her papers and belongings. The process took weeks and countless trips to the dumpster.

These are not images and experiences that you can easily shake. And part of your brain wonders, “Could this happen to me?!”

While our home is generally tidy, some “collections” (pens, pencils, notebooks) continue to grow. They are collections. They are not hoarding. Or are they?!

Levenger's Vivacious Circa refill

Case in point— Levenger’s Circa Vivacious Refill, in the cross-dot pattern. I absolutely LOVE THIS PAPER, and find myself ordering, and squirreling away, a few packs every time Levenger puts them on sale or offers free shipping.

I think I’m up to eight packs, neatly stored in a desk drawer. No goat path. Yet.

Circa junior notebook

A few months ago, I was having a horrible time keeping up with life— work life, home life, life life. Even though I consider myself organized, and am a pretty close follower of Dave Allen’s Getting Things Done, everything felt like it was a mess. I needed a fresh start.

I took an old Circa Junior notebook (constructed from the Circa Sampling Kit), labeled some dividers, loaded the notebook with Circa grid paper, and immediately felt better. With Circa paper, moving pages within the book is a snap. Just pull the sheet from the Circa discs and reposition it in its new location. It’s a great system.

Circa Junior Notebook

This book is my main “capture” tool— everything goes into this book. From meeting notes, to weekly priority lists, to Action, Waiting, and Someday/Maybe lists. The system works like a dream. (From this book, I parse things out into master lists in Evernote for weekly review and updating.) I thank the Circa system for giving me back my sanity.

Cross-Dot Vivacious paper

So things were going along fine. I was happy using the Circa grid paper I had stashed away. THEN I saw the Vivacious Cross-Dot refill. GONER!

Vivacious Circa refill

I think I first saw the Vivacious paper in a Levenger catalog, and then had a tricky time finding it online. (The easiest way is to search for “Vivacious.”) I ordered a couple of packs. Then a couple more. Then more. And a few MORE, egged on by the fact that the paper is found in Levenger’s “outlet,” which makes me think that it’s on its way to being discontinued. Shudder.

Night sky vs. Vivacious refill
[Field Notes Night Sky reticle vs. Levenger Vivacious cross-dot]

I fell hard for the lime-green cross-dot pattern that’s a dead-ringer for the reticle grid found in the Field Notes Night Sky edition. That edition is a favorite, particularly due to that grid, so seeing the same thing on this fantastic Levenger Circa paper was a total no-brainer.

The Vivacious Circa refill paper is 100-gsm, very substantial, and gorgeously smooth. The cross-dot pattern is found on both sides of the page, and there are spaces at the top of each page for subject and date. The fresh looking grass-green cross-dots are the icing on the paper cake.

Writing samples

This is superb paper— able to handle ballpoint, pencil, rollerball, and fountain pen equally well. That’s what I like— I don’t have to do a mental check about my pen/paper pairing, because everything works. Everything looks great. Everything FEELS great when you’re writing on this stuff.

Good with all writing utensils

I’ve since picked up a couple of Circa Vivacious Notebooks. I’ll put one to use as a journal because having the ability to easily move and re-arrange pages is so appealing.

So, though I sometimes feel like I’m channeling my inner Aunt Matilda, I think I’m completely justified in hoarding this Vivacious paper.

Levenger Vivacious Circa refill

I’m not worrying until there’s a goat path.

Smooooooth Sailing: Frictionless Capture Cards

I was all set to write about a pen today, but then found myself absolutely LOVING Aaron Mahnke’s Frictionless Capture Cards. So, an executive decision was made (All in favor say aye. AYE!!), and I quickly shifted blogging gears.

The beloved cards

To be honest, I’m not sure where I first heard about Aaron’s cards. It may have been on Twitter or on the Mikes on Mics or Home Work podcasts, or maybe from the Pen Addict himself. Doesn’t really matter. I’ll admit that I had a couple packs in my online shopping cart, then thought better of it. “Do you REALLY need these cards?” the voice on one shoulder whispered. I listened to that voice and deleted the contents of the cart. Then I sensibly went to Staples, picked up some plain old ordinary index cards, and heard a second voice say, “Those Frictionless cards don’t cost much more. Go for it!” So I put DOWN the ordinary cards, ordered four packs of the Frictionless cards, and haven’t looked back. Voice #2 is apparently the wise, wise voice. Voice #1, not so much.

Sturdy cards!

When I opened the package, a few things struck me immediately. First of all, these cards are sturdy. Because they’re printed on 70 lb premium card stock, a stack of 100 Frictionless cards measures about double what a stack of 100 ordinary index cards would measure. The thickness is, to me, absolutely perfect. They’re so substantial that your mind immediately takes them seriously, rather than looking at them as a throwaway. They hold up great, even when dragged through day-to-day activities. No more flimsy cards for me.

Structured, yet flexible

I was also immediately smitten with the layout and colors. LOVE the pale grey grid, which gives enough structure without getting in the way. And the colored header and footer felt very natural to use. I don’t spend a bunch of time spinning mental wheels about what I should write where. I instinctively write the subject in the upper grey box and a reference date in the upper red box. In the body of the card, I create itemized lists of action items for projects, meetings, and even groceries. I pen in tiny check boxes, then color them in with red when the item is completed. Once everything on the card has been completed, I write a celebratory “DONE!” in the grey footer, then file the card for future reference. I should mention that the back of the card is gridded as well, and features a narrow red header, and a grey footer with a white grid. Both sides are equally usable.

While attending a conference last week, emails continued to roll in for work and life in general. I kept a couple of cards handy, and jotted down everything that required my attention during and after the conference. Everything was quickly and easily captured. I could let go of the emails, hunker down at the conference, and enjoy some free time without that endless loop of responsibilities swirling around in my brain. Frictionless? Yeah, it kind of was. (Thank you, Aaron!)

Keeping it all straight

Now that I’m back at work, there’s lots to be done. I’m using the cards to keep each project straight. It may look overwhelming, but because everything is captured and organized, I can easily review where I stand with each project and chore. And I love coloring in those little boxes.

Pen-wise, I’ve mostly been using the Pilot Frixion 0.5 mm pens, as well as my Render K and Pilot Hi-Tec-C, as the fine line of these pens plays nicely with the grid on the card. But the cards are not fazed by fountain pen ink, and I can create neat notes using my Lamy Safaris (EF & F nibs) and Pilot Vanishing Point (F nib) with various inks. I haven’t, as yet, experienced any feathering.

Can you believe that I’m going on and on about 3×5 cards?! Yeah, me neither. But the Frictionless Capture Cards are that good.

I simply love this tool.

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