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Disc Bound Notebooks - An Excellent Method for Organization

TUL Disc Notebook

This post will be a multi-part series on how I organize my time.

Ring binders have been around since the early 1900s, even going as far as setting worldwide standards for the placement of holes. When I was attending elementary school, ring binders were a staple for education.  The ring binders could not stand up to the use and abuse of a child.

As I got older, I assumed the broken opening tabs and misaligned rings were due to user error. I was wrong! I carefully and methodically tried to take care of the binders, knowing that they may fail.

They did.

Fixing them had a 50% chance of success. More often than note, multiple fixes were required until the mechanism completely broke.
Some binders worked better than others. Some had better unlocking mechanisms that worked better and did not cause the librarian to develop an aneurism.

What is a disc notebook?

It is a notebook that uses ten or more disks to hold the paper.

Disc notebooks solve many problems that come with book journals, spiral notebooks, and ring binders.Disc notebooks solve many problems that come with book journals, spiral notebooks, and ring binders.

Have you used a spiral notebook, and the spirals got crushed? You might be able to bend the spirals back, but the page-turning is never the same. If you want to add a page to the notebook, you have to attach it with staples or paper clips. When you have a book journal, you really cannot remove a page cleaning without the risk of damaging the book.Have you used a spiral notebook, and the spirals got crushed? You might be able to bend the spirals back, but the page-turning is never the same.  If you want to add a page to the notebook, you have to attach it with staples or paper clips.   When you have a book journal, you really cannot remove a page cleaning without the risk of damaging the book.

Where can I get a disc notebook?

TUL

The Happy Planner has so many options and styles. The can be found on their website and crafting stores such as Hobby Lobby and Michaels.

Benefits of disc notebooks

Rings hold paper better

With a 3-ring binder, three holes keep the pages in the ring binder. It does not take much pulling to damage the paper enough that you cannot keep it bound. You can use hole reinforcers to strengthen the page. But, if the page is too damaged, reinforcers will not help. With the disc notebook, pages use a special punch that the discs use to hold each page.

If you use thicker paper such as card stock for your pages will last far longer.  At office supply stores, they have a wide range of paper weights to try.  You may need to try different weights to find what you prefer to write on.  Sometimes, card stock is too thick.  Some paper is too thin and the ink will bleed through.

Depending on the notebook, ten or more discs distribute the paper’s strain across the whole sheet. I have yet to have a page all out or get damaged so much it is unusable with heavy daily usage on individual pages.

If you use thicker paper such as card stock, your pages will last far longer. At office supply stores, they have a wide range of weights to try. Sometimes, card stock is too thick. Some paper is too thin, and the ink will bleed through. Talk to the printing professionals at the copy departments at office supply stores. They can let you test some paper before you commit to a full ream.

A full notebook is easier to write if you are a left-handed

I am left-handed, and I have been on a personal journey to find notebooks that are left hand compatible. I have gone to extremes of even making my own Cornel notes notebook and have Kinkos print and bind them. Since I discovered disc notebooks, I have not been to Kinkos in quite some time. When writing in the notebook towards the back of it, you have two methods to make writing easier: remove the page, write, and put it back in or fold the notebook on itself.

Extreme flexibility

When you enter something into the notebook, and it should be somewhere else in the notebook, you remove the page, add it to the appropriate location.  There is no need to rewrite!

If there are notes that you no longer need to keep up with, you can move the pages to an archive. If you need to relocate a section of notes, you can easily remove them and put them in a different location.   Try that with a composition notebook!  

It is YOUR notebook. You get to chose how to organize it!

The notebook can fold back on itself

If you are writing in an area where table space is a premium, you can fold the notebook on itself.

Disadvantages

Cost to start up can be high initially

If you buy the initial planner with some basic filler sheets, it is approximately 30 dollars. If you buy the punch, that is about $40 ($32 if you use the Office Depot 20% off coupon).​

 

Compatibility with different brands

There is a fair amount of printer cartridge pricing models with the systems. The printer cartridge model says the printer is free (or sold at a loss), and the money made back from the printer comes from the sales of cartridges. I think filler paper falls into that category. If you get into an ecosystem, it is hard to transition to a competitor. 

The main points about compatibility come down to several factors:

  1. Page size (8.5×11 vs. A4)
  2. The number of discs
  3. The distance between discs
  4. The size of the “mushroom”

TUL and ARC may come from in the same factory in Guangzhou with a different branding stamped. From many accounts, TUL And ARC are mostly compatible with each other.   

When you look at the different systems, one of them will speak to you. The happy planner focuses on the free-spirited and youthful look. TUL takes on a sophisticated professional look. I am not saying one is better than the other. Consider your personality, your needs, and the image you want to show because this notebook will be an extension of YOU.

Filler Paper is Expensive

Filler paper prices are high across all the planner ecosystems. I recommend that you look at the layouts available and make your filler paper and get a hole punch. It is more work on your part, but I found that when I make my filler paper, the layout of the page works for ME and my specific needs. The TUL filler pages had some great ideas, but each page had a glaring problem. I ended up making filler pages in Excel (which was surprisingly hard to do quickly). I took the best ideas from the TUL fillers and made a template. After a few weeks of testing and tweaking, I got what I want.

If you print your filler sheets, the costs are less than a few dollars for hundreds of pages. The time punching the mushrooms is time-consuming because you can only process about five pages at a time. If you use lighter-weight papers, you can get through most of your filler sheets in less than an hour.

Freelance graphic artists who work in the planner market can take drawings and convert them into printable PDFs for a reasonable price if you end up spending too much time rigging Office to cooperate.

Conclusion

Once you get past the initial start-up costs, maintaining a notebook is exceptionally inexpensive. Since I have started using the disc binder, I found that I am more in tune with tracking my progress and getting more tasks done.

In the next article in the series, I will show how I use the planner to complete the most important tasks.

In the comments below, what method do you use to stay organized with your daily activities?

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