Product Review: Circa Balanced Life Planner by Julie Morgenstern

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Circa Balanced Life Planner by Julie Morgenstern
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I recently received a lovely gift from Julie Morgenstern, a copy of the Circa Balanced Life Planner she developed in partnership with Levenger. Since it’s the time of year that you may be looking at a new planner for yourself or one of your clients, I thought I’d share my impressions with you, even though I wasn’t asked to write a review.


If you’ve been following my blog for a long time, you may already know that I look for very specific features in a paper planner, and this one passes with flying colors in many aspects, specifically:

  • It is coil-bound. Well, not exactly, but it works the same way. Instead of coils, Circa notebooks are bound with discs which can be replaced should you wish something larger, smaller, or in a different material or color.
  • It has a sturdy plastic cover that will withstand being pulled in and out of a bag or briefcase on a regular basis.
  • It has nice thick pages so you should be able to use highlighters or markers to your heart’s content without worrying about bleed-through. If you’re a pencil-and-eraser type of person, you won’t have to worry about tearing a page if you have to erase something.
  • There are clearly marked monthly dividers that make it easy to flip to a past or future month.
  • There are monthly views with holidays and other important dates pre-printed on them, and lots of space to write. The monthly pages also include spots to write in your monthly goals in three areas: Professional Development, Personal Development, and Relationship Development, along with a motivational quote. In addition, each monthly section has two lined pages to write Reflections at the beginning and end of the month.
  • There are also year-at-a-glance views going back to the previous year and forward two years, for easy reference.

Although the product does not appear to be made from recycled material, it is environmentally friendly in that you can purchase refills rather than throwing the whole thing away once it’s finished. This is especially important because it is only a three-month planner rather than a whole calendar year. The upside of this is that you can spread out your investment over the year – and at two pages per day, you definitely would not want to carry a full year’s worth of pages around with you.

For the way I currently plan my schedule, I’ve found that a weekly planner works best for me, but this would be a great product for those who prefer a daily planner. As shown in the above photo, each daily spread consists of a number of sections, as follows:

  • Daily schedule, with time slots from 7:00 am to 11:00 pm, which will work for most lifestyles
  • Daily to do list, with two sections for Work Tasks (DO and CALL) and one for Personal Tasks. Unlike most task lists, this one includes a column for writing the estimated time required (a vital piece of information, as all tasks are not created equal!) and one for noting one of the 4 D’s (delete, delay, diminish, delegate)
  • A productivity tip
  • The Balance Tracker, which includes a section to record important tasks you tend to neglect and another to record time-wasting activities you want to avoid. This feature really sets this planner apart from others on the market by providing not just a scheduling tool, but a system for examining your behaviors and actually improving your productivity.

I have to say that although I am very happy with the planner I’m currently using, I am very tempted to put the Circa Balanced Life Planner to the test to see if it can help me to become even more efficient.

Do you still use a paper planner, or have you switched to an electronic calendar?

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Gravatar mystery man

A former professional organizer, I'm now a Website Design and Care Specialist. I love helping others succeed by sharing the knowledge and insight I’ve gained through marketing my own business for over 15 years! When I’m away from my desk, I enjoy reading, photography, watching movies, and cooking.

Gravatar mystery man

A former professional organizer, I'm now a Website Design and Care Specialist. I love helping others succeed by sharing the knowledge and insight I’ve gained through marketing my own business for over 15 years! When I’m away from my desk, I enjoy reading, photography, watching movies, and cooking.


  1. Avatar Kathy Stinson on October 16, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Until quite recently, I’ve been quite devoted to my paper planner, but as the time approaches when I would ordinarily be purchasing the daytime pages for next year, I realize that in the past several months, I’ve come to rely pretty much exclusively on my electronic calendar.

    I should make that plural because I use the calendars on my iPhone and on my recently purchased Macbook Air. Depending where I am when I need to make note of an event in my Calendar or an item in my Reminders, I might enter it on my phone or on my laptop. Wherever I enter it, it shows up in both places as soon as they’re both on the same wi-fi network. So it’s hard to see how it will be worth my time, in the coming months, to re-enter the info in my paper planner.

    If I do decide to forgo the purchase of the 2013 pages for my daytimer, I wonder what I’ll do with the vacant real estate in my desk drawer. Perhaps I’ll fill it with a stash of Werther’s or – better yet – Lindt dark chocolate with sea salt or chill pepper. Now, there’s an advantage to an e-calendar I bet you never thought of, Janet!

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on October 17, 2012 at 6:49 am

      I get where you’re coming from, Kathy. I’ve been using my Outlook calendar sync’d with my iPhone for a couple of years now, and my paper planner is mainly used for listing my tasks for the week and scheduling them on specific days. My iPhone screen definitely isn’t big enough for that, even if I could find an app that works the way I think.

  2. Avatar Kathy Stinson on October 17, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    I’ve created categories in my Reminders app that’s working for me as a to do list. But I can see that with the nature of your business, you would need something bigger than an iPhone screen to keep organized. If you do decide to use the Circa Planner next year, I hope it will do everything you’d like it to. But it’s hard to imagine you being any more organized than you already are!

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on October 17, 2012 at 4:42 pm

      As much as I like the Circa Planner, I don’t think it’s right for me.

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