To say that I need a way to keep tabs on things would be an understatement. I am currently working part time at a local parish (is ministry every part time?), trying to finish and sell a book, keeping a household running, training a horse, and keeping a six pound cat and a 40 pound collie-shepard mix from taking over. I am utterly failing that last one. Keeping that many balls in the air at once has required me to establish a pretty bullet proof organizational and planning system. That’s not to say a ball never gets dropped (I plan meals for the week but that doesn’t mean I always remember to stop on the way home from work and buy the chicken needed for the enchiladas planned that night.) But that’s another story.
A later post will give a thorough “how to” on my own little organizational system, which has both digital and analog components. But a few months ago I realized that my digital components didn’t give me everything I needed and my analog components were woefully inadequate. Sticky notes alone do not a clear plan make. So I went way back in my arsenal and pulled out the old ringed planner. I know, I was slightly shocked that people still used those. I hadn’t used one in twenty years, back when I did use one it was long before digital calendars, or cell phones, hell it was even before email was more than a novelty (at least for me) and it managed my entire life as a student.
The age of the internet means that I couldn’t just pop into my local office supply store, buy what they had and be happy. No, these days you search the internet and then you fall down the deep, dark pit of the “enthusiast groups.” I did it with fountain pens years ago and look where that go me. Right, here. So I figured, what the hell, and began nosing around planner groups, following planner users on Instagram, you get the idea. I never knew there were so many options.
I started small, with a simple planner that didn’t work at all for me. I moved on to one that worked much better, I figured out what inserts I needed, what I needed to keep on paper, how it would all integrate with my digital stuff. (Again, that’s another post). And at some point I stumbled upon a group of people who owned Gillio planners. Gillio is a company in Belgium (though using Italian leather I am told). I’m fairly certain God’s planner is a Gillio. The downside is these planners are incredibly expensive. Expensive enough that when I first saw the price I was certain someone had misplaced a decimal place. Even their most basic planners, with the current euro/dollar exchange rate run in the hundreds of dollars (try 3). But, you see dear people, I own many pens that new run many hundreds of dollars (try 8) and I paid a great deal less than that for mine, pre-loved. (Or as one witty planner person put it: they come with prior experience.)
So I began stalking ebay and planner communities, because I loved the system I’d put together but I was less than thrilled with the cheap planner covers I was using. And one day someone was offering Gillio’s slim model (in purple) for less than half its original price. I bought it.
(Click to enlarge)
Here is where a blog utterly fails. I can’t let you feel how buttery soft this leather is, and I certainly can’t let you smell it. You will have to take my word for the fact that the leather draws your hands, I find myself using it throughout the day just so I can pick it up, balance it on my knee. While called purple I find the color somewhere between a true purple and a deep red win burgundy. The color feels natural, full of red tones and subtle warmth. And the greatest surprise of all? It came with unused inserts, which I started to throw away but stopped. Out of curiosity it set my fine nibbed Pelikan (seen above in the leather and elastic pen loop) to the paper. The ink did not bleed, nor feather. I stared, so little commercial paper is fountain pen friendly I hardly believed it.
So I got out the big gun. I took Gin nami (see here) out of her kimono and set that broad, wet nib to the paper. She laid down a crisp clean line, and again, there was not a hint of feathering or bleeding through the thin paper. I am happy to report that Gillio inserts are fountain pen friendly! I am not using them because they are monthly and weekly inserts and that is the digital part of my system, but for those who are interested, have no fear about mixing your Gillio and your fountain pen!
The slim has a secretarial pocket in the front, along with four card slots that fit your license, credit card, business cards, etc. The back is the same, though with three card slots instead of four. The pen loop is attached to the back cover, it is leather, with an elastic section that allows most of my fountain pens (which are fairly slender by and large) to fit. A Montblanc 149 would not be at home in this pen loop. But your Pelikan 600, 400 and similar with fit perfectly and ride mostly protected b the cover when closed.
Gillio also included a back pocket. The whole back of the planner is one large pocket, great for squirreling away receipts, a couple dollars, a check or two, etc. Too much thickness there will interfere with the planner lying flat, or closing properly, but for capturing the daily paper our lives generate it is perfect.
The slim has 13mm rings, similar to a Compact Filofax and is the perfect size for sticking into a purse (even my very small purse). The leather wears well, and has shown no signs of marring or wimping out with my rather cavalier treatment. The attention to detail is impeccable, every stitch even and perfectly straight, even the card slots, which in so many planners are just a cut in the leather (or pleather) are here reinforced with neat even stitching all the way around.
The Krauss rings are incredibly tight, in fact opening them takes a bit of brute strength they are so dedicated to being tightly “kissed” to one another. One of the chief complaints recently with Filofax branded planners is the tendency of the rings to gap, causing paper to snag and catch. There is little chance of that any time soon with the Krauss rings, and my reading online shows an active presence by Gillio in the planner community, reports of issues are handled quickly and pleasantly, which is a welcome change from most customer service in these enlightened times.
There is something satisfyingly solid about a Gillio planner in the hand. It clearly intends to be around for a very long time, quietly doing its job without fuss, and being beautiful at the same time. In a world that is often mass produced and disposable, where phrases like ‘planned obsolescence’ are now a standard part of our vocabulary it is incredibly refreshing to find a product that is intended to last you the rest of your life. And that does make even the new price seem far more reasonable. While a new phone that will need to be replaced in two years might run $500 or $600 without US carrier “subsidies” (why do we think our cell service is so expensive??), a Gillio that will last 20 or 30 years will cost you just half that, new. In the end I paid $150 for this little gem, not cheap by any means. But for a tool that I fully intend to use for the next 10 to 20 years I think not so bad after all. Highly recommended.