Chronodex - the radial time management system
January 21, 2015 6:52 AM   Subscribe

Chronodex is a personal time management system developed by Patrick Ng that naturally matches the clock. It's free! Here's the printable 2015(a) edition sized for Traveler's Notebooks

be sure to check out the chronodex tag on flickr, facebook, youtube, and pinterest to see some of the creative, beautiful ways people are using this system.
posted by rebent (32 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm having a lot of trouble understanding how this is supposed to work. Can someone explain it verbally? I fear I have been educated stupid.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 6:58 AM on January 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


This will be great for marking down when 4 simultaneous days rotate in same 24 hours of Earth.
posted by HeroZero at 7:00 AM on January 21, 2015 [25 favorites]


It is gorgeous, for sure. I tend to look at digital times all day (though I do wear a watch) and think of time as a stack more than as a spiral, so it wouldn't work for me, but I can imagine how beautiful my daily notes would be if I used this system instead.
posted by xingcat at 7:08 AM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm having a lot of trouble understanding how this is supposed to work.

Yeah, the "Chronodex" link that supposedly "introduced the concept" goes into great detail about how to make your own physical object and then says nothing whatsoever about how it should be used. It just looks like a round daily planner.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:08 AM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


The future was now!
posted by mean square error at 7:14 AM on January 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


[I] think of time as a stack more than as a spiral

How about a flat circle?

I'm with Steely-eyed Missile Man. Is there a FAQ or quickstart guide for how this thing is to be used? It looks like the calendar I use already, but with extra roundness and squiggles because creativity.
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:17 AM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


To me, it looks like a more complicated tweak to the Muji Chronotebook format, which I'm sure isn't totally original itself.
posted by holgate at 7:46 AM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I believe the idea is that you mark out your appointments around the circle, so you get a clock-like visual of how your day is shaping up. Not sure what the stepped radii are for, except perhaps to avoid visual crowding.

I've also seen circular calendars, and I really like that idea for getting a visual sense of what parts of the year are heavily scheduled.
posted by adamrice at 7:47 AM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


ah.

I appear to have left out a link to this article that explains the entire concept. But, as evidenced by the pinterest, flickr, and facebook groups - a lot of people use it in a lot of different ways.
posted by rebent at 7:50 AM on January 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


This is one of the only examples I could find for actual usage, which looks like a mess to me. Folks seem way more concerned that's it's some sort of clever visualization than actually finding it useful.
posted by CaseyB at 8:05 AM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


So now I have to write down what all my appointments for the day are, assign a color code to them, fill in the appropriate color coding for that section of the Chronodex. Then, to figure out what I'm doing at a give time I look at the corresponding section of the Chronodex, see what color the section is, scan my color-coding system until I find a match, read the matching item and Bob's your uncle.

Wow, what a relief! How great to be freed from the dreadful burden of just looking at the information written right them in the appropriate section of my boring old rectangular schedule! (How on earth is a clock dial a more "natural" representation of linear time than the linear arrangement of a conventional schedule? It's just a machine convenience.)
posted by yoink at 8:22 AM on January 21, 2015 [8 favorites]


I am utterly baffled by this interesting looking thing.
posted by sidereal at 8:36 AM on January 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


The multitasking thing is a neat idea, although I guess I don't see any reason you couldn't do it with, like, a bar chart. It does seem to fetishize the clock, when really we don't experience time as "round" at all, but linear as yoink says. Design for the sake of design (and using a Super Nintendo-era sounding new word, I suppose).
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:00 AM on January 21, 2015


Dang, you all are harsh.

I can see where this idea might work! I make a full-page list each Friday for the weekend, including both my big family's commitments and the things we need to get done when we are at home -- appointments and more-fungible To Dos, in other words.

A round diagram -- probably more like this simpler one -- would allow a more clear indication of how long a given appointment lasts, instead of having to read the whole day's list to figure out who goes where, when. It would also make very clear how much time I have in between events, which in turn might suggest that my To Do's could be a group of disconnected line segments (off to the side) in lengths according to how long they should take.

Of course, remembering six colors and their associated person could be a bit of a drag, but I might try it this weekend, printed as big as a saucer in black and white.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:09 AM on January 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Please pray.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:16 AM on January 21, 2015


A round diagram -- probably more like this simpler one -- would allow a more clear indication of how long a given appointment lasts

But my rectilinear calendar does exactly that: it blocks off a proportional amount of the vertical day-column for any given appointment. I can tell at a glance that a three-hour appointment is three times longer than a 1 hour one.
posted by yoink at 9:19 AM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


True, yoink, true. Maybe I just need a better paper calendar! :7)
posted by wenestvedt at 9:21 AM on January 21, 2015


So, a wind rose for your day? Perfect for worksops.
posted by scruss at 9:39 AM on January 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


I disagreed with several design choices, and began googling for variations and alternatives, and was starting to work myself up into a fit of frustration over How the Perfect Thing Looks in my Head vis-à-vis these imperfect versions that other people have made and then I remembered that polar graph paper is a thing that exists and everything was alright.
posted by BrashTech at 10:59 AM on January 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think this is an Asian thing. When I first started reading Japanese newspapers, I saw tons of unrelated data plotted on radial graphs and none of them made any sense. In most cases, it is more logical and intuitive for Westerners to use a linear graph like a bar graph. I suspect you would really have to grow up seeing this stupid diagramming method your whole life, in order to understand it intuitively. And even then I wonder how useful it really is. This is just a ridiculous way to complicate a calendar page that reads top to bottom. It would be simpler to put amplitude bars that read from left to right, down the page, rather than graphing them in polar coordinates.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:13 AM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I feel like this is something you need to be an engineer to think it's simple/beautiful/practical.

For now, I'm going to stick to lists on random scraps of paper, and I will continue to lose with them alarming regularity.

(This comment brought to you courtesy of ADHD and your local bohemian artist's council.)
posted by MexicanYenta at 11:57 AM on January 21, 2015


It does seem to fetishize the clock, when really we don't experience time as "round" at all, but linear as yoink says.

I don't experience it totally linear. It has a linear quality but days to me are round and spiral into the next day which move around the year which I visualize as a flat slightly oval shape. It's 3D in my mind.

I took one look at this and got this weird 'this is really familiar and comfortable' feeling.

Now I'm thinking about why the heck I never thought of something like this before because it fits better with whats in my head.
posted by Jalliah at 12:52 PM on January 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


Oh and I guess since I never really thought about it before...

Is it not common for people to visualize the time of day in a circular, spiraly way?
posted by Jalliah at 12:56 PM on January 21, 2015


Is it not common for people to visualize the time of day in a circular, spiraly way?

I think I visualize time in very different ways depending on the context. Mostly I think of it as a straight line (the past over there, the future over there and present moving along steadily between those two points.

I can think of time as a spiral, if I'm very specifically thinking about a sense of time derived from planetary motion (whether diurnal or annual or seasonal).

If I've been reading some attempt to explain time in terms of contemporary physics it's more like a tangled bowl of spaghetti. Which has already been digested at least once.
posted by yoink at 1:24 PM on January 21, 2015


I feel like this is something you need to be an engineer to think it's simple/beautiful/practical.

As an engineer I'll just say that I think the opposite is true.
posted by achrise at 1:39 PM on January 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


After a bit more clicking around I found this pretty cool article that really should have been right at the front of the FPP because it lays out how to use it, what it looks like, and why you would want to! Any idea on the status of that pony request for FPP edit buttons?
posted by rebent at 7:05 PM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


> Is it not common for people to visualize the time of day in a circular, spiraly way?

Not for me. It's always been like:
00h00:01    02h00       04h00       06h00       08h00       10h00       12h00       14h00       16h00       18h00       20h00       22h00       24h00
  |-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|
posted by scruss at 8:22 PM on January 21, 2015


I feel like this is something you need to be an engineer to think it's simple/beautiful/practical.

Speaking as an engineer (something, something, "Choo choo! All aboard!", something, F=ma, something), I just wanted to say I don't find this to be any of those things. I don't begrude folks using a system that works for them but I'm with yoink in that I see nothing wrong or unnatural with a non-circular system for planning things in time.
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:58 PM on January 21, 2015


Man. This sure looks like a system for people who like maintaining complex to-do systems. (Autocorrect just rendered that as "to-do daydreams" which seems somehow spot on.) I'd feel like I used up a lot of mental energy just drawing the diagram.

Personally I get pretty good results with the Pomodoro technique. I make little lists on tiny post-its wih checkboxes representing an estimated half hour, and check them off as I do them. Then I throw the post-it away. Sometimes I just write it up as a document in a text editor that never even gets saved, just stays open all day and closed the next morning.

I guess this would be kinda neat if you wanted to, like, flip through a notebook full of Your Time Usage. I'm too much of a slacker to do this though.

(And I find myself somehow very surprised there doesn't seem to be a chronodex app for your phone. Something this full of color-coding seems natural for that. I guess it mostly appeals to the kind of person who wants to have a physical notebook full of pretty little images; I mean I'm seeing ones filled with watercolors in some of the articles about this system.)
posted by egypturnash at 11:11 PM on January 21, 2015


If I used Chronodex I'd have to color in a section everyday for using Chronodex.
posted by zardoz at 12:51 AM on January 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


Every hour of every day was subdivided into different study periods, each labelled in his lovely, tiny copperplate hand; then painted over in watercolours, a different colour for each subject, the colours gradually becoming bolder and more urgent shades as the exam time approached. The effect was as if a myriad tiny rainbows had splintered and sprinkled across the poster-sized sheet of creamwove card.

The only problem was this: because the timetables often took seven or eight weeks, and sometimes more, to complete, by the time Rimmer had finished them the exam was almost on him. He’d then have to cram three months of astronavigation revision into a single week. Gripped by an almost deranging panic, he’d then decide to sacrifice the first two days of that final week to the making of another timetable. This time for someone who had to pack three months of revision into five days.

Because five days now had to accommodate three months’ work, the first thing that had to go was sleep. To prepare for an unrelenting twenty-four hours a day sleep-free schedule, Rimmer would spend the whole of the first remaining day in bed – to be extra, ultra fresh, so he would be able to squeeze three whole months of revision into four short days.

...

After a long scream, he would rationalize that the day was a total write-off, and the rest of the afternoon would be spent shopping for the three best alarm clocks money could buy. This would often take five or six hours, and he would arrive back at his sleeping quarters exhausted, but knowing he was fully prepared for the final day’s revision before his exam.

Waking at four-thirty in the morning, after exercising, showering and breakfasting, he would sit down to prepare a final, final revision timetable, which would condense three months of revision into twelve short hours. This done, he would give up and go back to bed. Maybe he didn’t know a single thing about astronavigation, but at least he’d be fresh for the exam the next day.

Which is why Rimmer failed exams.
posted by XMLicious at 1:25 AM on January 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


Man. This sure looks like a system for people who like maintaining complex to-do systems. (Autocorrect just rendered that as "to-do daydreams" which seems somehow spot on.) I'd feel like I used up a lot of mental energy just drawing the diagram.

Yes, this is Goal Displacement, which is one of the most useful time management concepts I ever heard. Goal Displacement is the writer who has to sharpen all his pencils before he can start writing (this is a really old metaphor).

I find myself doing this all the time. Once I even caught myself doing a major displacement while listening to an audio seminar on time management.

This is my problem with time management systems. Usually it displaces effort from getting things done, into paperwork recording that you are getting things done. Paperwork is easy, getting things done is not.

I remember a long time ago, I read an article about time management in some business magazine. Researchers decided to get detailed data on how managers spent their time. They went to a corporate office and gave all the executives computerized beepers that would ring at preprogrammed but random intervals (random so they couldn't anticipate the alarm and manipulate the data). When the alarm rang, the executives wrote down what they were doing in a journal. They were admonished to be honest, and the notebooks would be anonymous so skip any identifying details, just write something like "reading reports," "writing letters," or "daydreaming." The results were astonishing. Office productivity skyrocketed during the experiment, which completely invalidated the experiment since the measurement system distorted the results. After extensive analysis, they concluded that the little beepers were a subtle nudge, invariably the people were daydreaming or doing something useless, the beeps were a reminder to get back to work.

I tried this experiment in an office where I worked. I set my computer to beep at random intervals no more than 15 minutes apart, and fastidiously recorded my activities. It turned out that I spent over 60% of my time doing other people's work, instead of my own. I showed the records to my managers, I told them that if I was going to be exploited to do in-house tech support for the other salesmen, you're going to pay me a base salary for it, instead of me working solely on commission. Just take it out of the paycheck of the other guys, who are NOT doing their job. They are costing me money while I am making them money. Unsurprisingly, this appeal did not work.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:42 AM on January 22, 2015


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