Brandon's Notepad

December 9, 2013

The Spiraldex

Filed under: Productivity,Self Improvement — Brandon @ 6:00 am
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Home > My Research > Improvement > The Spiraldex


Last year, I discovered The Scription Chronodex, a visual, non-linear method created by Patrick Ng for recording a day’s activities, either for planning purposes or as a record of what has already happened (or both). Here are my notes on its new cousin, the Spiraldex, by Kent from Oz.


Etymology

Like the Chronodex, the Spiraldex takes its suffix from the Latin word for forefinger, indicating that this method will involve pointing to something. The prefix “spiral” simply refers to the shape of the figure used.

Usage

Spiraldex in FilofaxThe Spiraldex figure has a lot in common with the Chronodex. Both mimic the orientation of the clock face, with twelve at the top and six at the bottom, both effectively begin the day at six o’clock in the morning and end at midnight, and both have the date affixed clearly in the center of the figure. However, whereas the Chronodex presents the first three hours of the day inscribed in the inner circle (the morning routine: breakfast, commute, etc.) and the last three are presented on a dashed line (time to wind down, watch television), all of the hours on the Spiraldex are marked incrementally around the curve of the spiral with tick marks dividing each hour into quarters. The general usage is the same: shade, color, or hash blocks of time within the spiral to represent appointents or events, and use callouts if space is limited.

Design Critique

Like its cousin, the Spiraldex is quite visually appealing. It looks especially pretty on the pages of a bound journal or day planner. Many of its fans state their preference over the Chronodex, claiming that the spiral design is much easier to understand and less jarring. I for one disagree. It was the awkwardness of the form that first drew me to the Chronodex. What’s more, the Spiraldex has what I consider a functional flaw. The hours of 9AM to Noon have no exposure to the exterior space to allow for note taking, but is completely obscured by the 9PM to Midnight segment; thus, lines to callouts must cross over the later hours. The dashed line on the Chronodex is there for a reason. So, not only does the Spiraldex not add anything new, it takes away a small bit of usability.

References


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June 15, 2012

The Scription Chronodex

Home > My Research > Improvement > The Scription Chronodex


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

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.

Etymology

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.

Usage

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.

References

Below are other resources and commentaries on the Scription Chronodex:


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