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June 15, 2012

The Scription Chronodex

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The Scription Chronodex is a visual, non-linear method for representing a day. It can be used as a daily planner or a diary. The intention is to spawn creative thinking by breaking out of the traditional “grid” of the typical daily planner. Days and times of the days are not created equal, and the important ones should be given their due.


Scription is a ‘blog containing “thoughts on stationary and beyond”, the work of Patrick Ng. The photography is stunning. It’s wood, paper, leather, and ink. It’s “Indiana Jones, James Bond, and Rick Blaine walk into a scrapbooking store”. Patrick created the Chronodex as a planner and diary tool. He’s provided a free 2012 Chronodex planner (PDF & JPG) with a request for prayers for his ill father and caring mother.


The word index comes from the Latin word for the forefinger, indicis, which is the finger used most often to point to things. Pointing to something is a nonverbal way to indicate, indicare, some specific thing. Have you ever searched the index of a book by running your forefinger down the page? In 1958, the world was introduced to the Rolodex, a “rolling index” of address cards. Likewise, prepending the Greek word khronos-, the Chronodex is a printed device used to indicate times of the day.


The Chronodex is a radial representation of a day, and though Ng claims that it is a “free” system with no particular constraints on usage, there seems to be two prevailing elements: zones and pin-points.

Chronodex in Traveler's Notebook formatBasic Figure. The Chronodex begins with a circle. The date is in the center of the circle, and the times are laid out in three layers of concentric bands. The format mirrors a clock face with 12 on top, 6 on bottom, etc.; however, the hours are labelled such that the bulk of the daylight hours, from 9AM to 9PM, are represented by twelve one-hour slices protruding from the circle’s edge. The slices “stair-step” in four sets of three, the 9AM, 12PM, 3PM, and 6PM slices being the shortest, the next hour later being longer, and the next hour after that being the longest. Whereas these slices circumscribe the circle, slices for 6AM through the 8 o’clock hour are in a quarter band inscribed in the circle. The hours between 9PM through the 5AM hour are not labelled explicitly; however, there are small circles on the outermost corners of the longest slices and a dashed, quarter-circle line between the small circles at 9 and 12, implying that anything to note can be added in this third band.

Zones. To represent blocks of time, areas within the slices of the Chronodex can be bordered and shaded. The instructions call this “zoning”. Depending on the size of the printed figure, pen tip size, and penmanship, it is possible to title/label, these areas, though most annotation is made outside the figure.

Pin-Points. Ng promotes “radial thinking”, a term closely associated with mind maps, in which a core idea is located in a center figure and related ideas branch out in a radial network. Notes can be arranged in freeform on the page, and lines drawn to connect the notes with specific times or areas on the Chronodex. Other systems call these “callouts”, but the Chronodex instructions call it “pin-pointing”.

Diary/Planner. Even though the Chronodex is radial, time is still linear for all practical purposes. We are limited (by design?) to recording time-based data from a single perspective: now. We can record what has happened in the past and we can plan what we wish to see happen in the future. The Chronodex can be used to record either, and if one were crafty, perhaps to record both in a single figure.

Design & Extrapolations

Certainly, the figure is designed to be beautiful and inspiring without losing functionality. The stairstep layout of the zones is visual appealing, true, but the arrangement may make the page look less busy, less cluttered, especially when many lines are drawn between the figure and the notes that surround it. Here are some other observations:

A Clock Would Do. There is nothing magic about the figure. It’s cool because it looks like something one might see on a console screen in the Death Star. Really, a generic clock face would do, and there are may clipart clock faces without hands available online. The best choice would have two circles surrounding the face, because the inner circle could be used for AM and the outer one for PM or vise versa. It’s easy to mark points in these circles or to trace them with colored markers to create zones, and many of the available clipart images have these circles, probably because they represent the frame of the clock.

Zone Sizes. One might postulate that the shortest slices represent the hours in which the least activity occurs. This is something I noticed empirically, based in part on my normal workday and the schedules of my coworkers. Everyone is “getting started” at 9AM, meetings start happening around 10AM, and everyone scrambles to get something productive done from 11AM to noon. Likewise, lunch is typically at noon and productivity increases until 3PM, when everyone is ready for a break (or a nap). Antoher wave of productivity leads to scrambling before the end of the work day at around 6PM. The commute home, dinner, and then family time or other entertainment rounds out the last quarter of zones.


Below are other resources and commentaries on the Scription Chronodex:


1 Comment

  1. […] more info on the Chronodex, which is free to use, take a look at this blog at , and the designer’s own website […]

    Pingback by Beautiful planning | Lost in policy — October 21, 2013 @ 1:07 am

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