my take on Chronodex

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First off, a tip of the hat to Patrick Ng at Scription for sharing his unconventional way of looking at time and planning through his Chronodex concept.  And I hope it is acceptable for me to put my own spin on things, as I have been using the Chronodex on the development of my own personal agenda pages – as outlined in this post.

I tend to do a lot of writing in my agenda – which currently is a red ostrich personal-size Filofax.  I am definitely a full-blown day-on-2-pages person, even though I am not a decorative sticker and washi-tape and scrap-book type of diary-keeper (don’t get me wrong – I admire those who create amazing pages this way, but it just doesn’t work for me personally).   I’ve used both Filofax and Franklin Covey systems, yet they never totally met my needs.

When I came across the Chronodex concept, I knew I wanted to give it a try; I was drawn to the visual almost clock-like manner of time-management.  Yet I know myself well – and I know that I am a list and checkbox person when it comes to certain things.  So I looked through all of my old archived pages and tried to pick out the key things that I was keeping track of on a daily basis to get a feel for what my needs are in an agenda page.  I thought I could come up with my own 2-page spread that incorporates all of my must-haves, along with the Chronodex for a visual depiction of daily time and scheduling.  And so, I cobbled together this spread and have been using it every day for the past month.  I’m happy to say I am quite pleased with the design for my own purposes, and thought that perhaps others might want to have a look.  (Or not.)

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This is the blank spread, and I will go on by section to explain how I am using it, section by section (forgive me for the image-heavy post).

DateWeather

On the top of the left page with the date, I have a line for the weather.  Don’t ask me why I like to keep track of this, but I do.  Old habits die hard, I guess.  I don’t compile statistics or averages, nor do I monitor this at the same time each day, so it’s probably rather pointless;  I just like to take a look at the sky and at my thermometer and record at some point during the day if it’s sunny, cloudy, rainy or whatever, and what the temperature happens to be at any given time when I am thinking about it (usually over a cup of coffee).  Silly probably, but meaningful to me.

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Next comes my daily to-do’s.  Like I said, I am a list-and-checkbox person, and I like to plan my daily schedule around what I need to get accomplished.  When a task gets done, I tick the box; if I need to move it forward to another day, I put an arrow in the box.  I tend to block out time for these tasks and to-dos on my Chronodex, which comes next.

Chronodex

The Chronodex is next – and it is where I block out time for my at-home work tasks, appointments, physical activity (cycling, gym, yoga, etc.), and personal tasks.  The very top photo in this post shows the color-coding and time-blocking I use, which is basically four colors; green for at-home work/study, blue for physical activities, red for personal tasks, and purple for appointments.   I typically don’t draw connecting lines to text around the margins (it was too messy for me); I simply write any notes in the same ink colors, near the time blocks. I use a Coleto multi-barrel pen for blocking time on the Chronodex, but I still use my Waterman ballpoint for all other entries on my pages.

Watching

The last line on this page comes from an idea I saw on Planet Millie – who does some beautiful and artful diary pages.  She has a wonderful custom stamp that she uses to record what she’s reading, listening to, watching, and loving at any given time.  I liked the idea, and wanted to incorporate it into my daily pages for books I am reading, music, movies, and any other silly things that come to mind – like eating, drinking, photographing, etc.  So I left this as a fill-in-the-blank to suit my whim of the day.  Thank you, Millie, for the idea.

Notes

At the top of the facing page, I have a big dot-grid section for notes.  This is my everything-and-anything spot.  Typically, it random info or notes I need to jot down during the day; anything that requires lengthier note-taking or detailed sketching goes on a separate blank page in another (Project) tab of my Filofax.  But quick daily things land here; it’s kind of like a sticky-note section.  It may be a rough sketch, a phone number, a name, a reminder or whatever.  I am a big fan of nearly-transparent dot grids as it allows me to be flexible or structured, depending on what I am penning.  Great for quick sketches or for lines of text.

List

I decided to keep two lined columns for a list or lists.  Typically for me this is things like groceries, items I need to pick up or drop off, or other things I need to obtain locally.  Occasionally I use it for a packing list for an overnight trip, etc.  Anything that is not specifically a task, but where I need a list, this is the place for it.

Paid

This sections in this bottom half of the page come from examining what I was keeping track of in my archived planner pages.  First comes the Paid section – when I have scheduled a bill to be paid on a given date, it goes here.  When I need to look at when I paid a car insurance premium, a membership dues, a utility bill, etc., this provides an easy summary for me to look back at.  As shown in the very top photo, I also use a small Mark-It Dot for these sections, and put the same dots on my Chronodex for any day I have made an entry.  In other words, for anything I have listed under PAID – with the designation of a green dot – I also put a green dot on my Chronodex.  This is just a quick visual for me, and allows me to glance over at the various sections to see what I have paid, etc.

Contact

I added a Contact section for important contacts I make during the day.  When I have phoned the insurance company, or left a message for someone, or returned a form or application – this is where I make note of it.  Again, I like having this action-specific section for easy reference, and also use a Mark-It Dot (black) for this section and at the corresponding time on my Chronodex.

Ordered

The next section is for things I order – usually online or through a catalog.  I am a heavy on-line shopper, mostly because we live in an area with very limited availability of many items.  For the most part, on-line ordering is typically cost-effective, time-saving and provides significantly better variety in most things my family uses.  But I often had difficulty keeping track of what and when I ordered an item, from where, etc. – and then keeping tabs on when I received it.  So I begin by listing it in this section, as I place the order, but then I also will later transcribe any daily purchases to a master “running” list that I keep on a Filofax Financial page.  Again, for this section I use a yellow Mark-It dot on my Chronodex to reference back to this little list of things ordered on a given day.  On the Filofax Financial page (kept under a different tab in my binder) I list complete detail, cost, and method of payment, also the date of receipt.  When I receive something, I record the date and highlight it off the list.

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Here is a shot of my Filofax Financial page where I keep track of all online and catalog orders; the highlighted orders indicate that they have been received.

Recd

The Received section is much the same as the Orders section – it is just the place where I record what I may have received that day, as far as online or catolog orders.  At the end of the day (or sometimes less often), I will go to my master order list mentioned above, and highlight and record the date of orders that have been received.  And like the other sections, I use a pink Mark-It dot to reference things received on my Chronodex for the day.

Scale

The very last section of the page (aren’t you glad you’ve reached the end?!) is basically a blank scale.  Rather trivial, I know – but it’s kind of like keeping track of the weather for me.  I like to pick an aspect of my day and rate it on a scale, low to high.  It may be my level of physical activity for the day, it may be overall karma, it may be my rating of a dinner out, or a museum exhibit visited.  It can be whatever I want it to be, but I always try and pick one thing for the day and evaluate it on a scale.  And this is the place.

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And finally, I do keep a running monthly index for each month.  This allows me to keep about 4-5 weeks of my daily pages in my binder, yet have a quick reference for archived daily pages, and scheduling appointments into the future where I don’t yet have the daily pages in my planner.  I am pretty faithful about keeping a brief summary of each day, one day per line – and store this at the beginning of each month.  October, obviously, hasn’t yet begun to be filled in – only a couple of appointments I have scheduled.

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So this is how I have been using Chronodex for my daily agenda and diary-keeping.  I plan to continue with it for another month, to see how I may want to further revise it.  I realize that this format may not suit anyone other than myself, but if any bits or portions of it may be helpful or useful to you, I encourage you to come up with your own custom pages.

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diaries & connections to the past

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I have been thinking a lot about diaries – especially the old, hand-written ones.  In our local news, there have been several recent articles about a Civil War diary that is being examined by local historians.  It chronicles the daily life and struggles of a young Union soldier as he passed through this area.  The story is fascinating, but for me it is even more remarkable to look at the images of those pages … his handwriting on the old paper, the scribbles in the margins, the entire personal image that is captured not only by his words transcribed, but by the physical pages themselves.

It made me contemplate my own journaling and diary-keeping.  The mark of my pen, the paper and the books I choose to write in, the ink, my penmanship.  While I know there are many distinct advantages to maintaining a digital record – and there are a variety of digital diary applications available (Day One being my favorite, and one that I sometimes use), not to mention blogging, etc. –  none of it compares to an individual’s handwriting on paper.  Call me sentimental, I guess.

Yes, the ink may fade, the paper may deteriorate, the diary itself may be destroyed or go missing; it is not a match for the “safety” of the digital record. But somehow it may be this fragility that makes it so very special.

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Over the past year I have enjoyed reading the book “New York Diaries: 1609 to 2009” as compiled by Teresa Carpenter.  It is a fascinating read, day by day throughout the course of a calendar year, but not chronologically by year.  In other words, the entry or entries for September 23 may be from the year 1701 or 1992.   It gathers entries for each day, but jumps from era to era – which lends to an insightful contrast between times and cultural changes.

Yet as much as I enjoy reading the book, and think it is a most worthy endeavor to preserve those words in a format that can be universally shared, I can’t help but want to see the physical pages themselves.  The ink, the smudges, the penmanship, the notebooks themselves.

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Which brings me to the diary of my great-grandmother.  She wrote in this small, partially-filled volume while making a trans-atlantic voyage from her new home in the U.S. to her birthplace and childhood home in Wales in the spring and summer of 1938.  It was an ocean voyage, and she was particularly interested in keeping notes about the meals on the ship, who they dined with, etc.  Her stay in Wales records the towns and places visited, the friends and family she stayed with, often trivial-seeming details which are so rich to me today.  I am also fascinated by the language and phrases she would use in her descriptions; slightly formal and very proper at times, informal at other times.

One of my sons has also read through many of the pages, looking on maps for the towns she mentioned.  Googling for images of chapels and places she visited.

But to see her handwriting and to be able to touch the pages she touched … it is a treasured connection that I get to make with her, a woman I never knew but wish I could have – my great-grandmother.  No digital or otherwise transcribed version could ever be the same to me.

And so I keep my own handwritten journals, diaries, notebooks … in hope that someday one of my own descendants will find the same fascination with touching the same pages I put my hand to.  To make the connection.

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preys on hummingbirds?!

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This wonderful praying mantis was on my hummingbird feeder this morning … Fascinating to watch, look at, but apparently they (the bigger ones, like this one) have been known  to catch and kill hummingbirds – who knew?!

www.birdwatchersdigest.com/bwdsite/learn/hummingbirds/man…

I took some photos and left for a bit … when I returned, no mantis. And the hummingbirds were back at the feeder – no apparent sign of bloodshed. 🙂

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vintage/modern travel journal

Vintage HawaiiCollecting the pieces to put together this vintage/modern combination of a travel journal as inspired by Melissa at Bursts of Creativity.

I got my hands on a vintage book of Hawaiian stories, and purchased a collection of Melissa’s vintage Hawaii “ephemera” from her Etsy shop, which included some cool old postcards, maps, and book pages. Looking forward to putting this one together…. And can’t wait for my own (modern) additions – sketches, photos, journal entries – to be put between the covers.

More to come.

correspondence cards

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“A WOMAN is known by the stationery she uses.  Paper talks.  We read between the lines, along the margin, and across the envelope, the story of good or bad taste which speaks in tone, texture and design.”

~ (© 1910) A Desk Book on the Etiquette of Social Stationery by Jean Wilde Clark

And so it was, after much deliberation, that I decided to order bespoke correspondence cards from Smythson of Bond Street.  I had always wanted a set of fine, engraved correspondence cards on beautiful stock; to me, they are one of the most versatile and useful pieces of social stationery.  I frequently find myself writing short notes – thanks yous, a personal note enclosed with the mailing of a gift/clippings/photos, acknowledgements, informal invites, etc.  What better piece of stationery than a personalized correspondence card?  And who better to create my ideal card than one of the world’s finest stationers – Smythson?

I sent an email inquiry requesting samples of paper stock and ink colors, and very quickly received reply from a very helpful Smythson associate, who assessed my requirements and preferences and dispatched a packet of samples.  I received the sample packet – cardstocks, tissue-lined envelopes, and sample cards – quite quickly from London.  All presented within the beautiful Smythson blue mailing folio.

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After looking over the samples and options, I decided on very simple cards – my name only printed in Smythson Blue ink on White Wove 350GM stock.  I chose to order 100 cards and envelopes, adding tissue-lining in Smythson Blue to the envelopes, and also having my return address added to the back flap of the envelopes.   Borders, motifs (stock and custom), tissue-lining and return address are all available for additional charge.   I am so pleased I chose the tissue lining and return address; for me, it was well worth the additional expense.

I worked with Smythson via email to create and confirm the proofs for the engraving plates.  It was a very quick process; in less than 24 hours I had the  initial proofs.  Once I approved everything and placed my order, it would take several weeks for fulfillment.  Understandably,  it’s a fairly involved process.

I received my exquisite set of cards and envelopes in about 5-6 weeks from order placement – and I couldn’t be more pleased.  The people at Smythson were friendly, helpful, timely, and wonderful to work with.  The quality of their work is exceptional, their presentation is lovely.

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It’s a feeling not unlike savoring a piece of fine chocolate — to open the beautiful blue box, fountain pen in hand, pull out the heavy cream card and beautifully lined envelope to pen a note to someone dear.  The indentation on the back of the card  from the engraving, the discreet watermark on the envelope, the embossed letters of Smythson … it is fine and it is special.  This old tradition still speaks to me – “in tone, texture, and design” – more than any email, text message or even mass-produced greeting card ever will.

Yes.  Paper talks.  Still.

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*Apologies for blurring out/photo-altering my beautifully engraved text and information in the photos … all in the name of privacy.  Thanks for understanding.

Goulet goodies

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My recent order from the Goulet Pen Company arrived a few days ago, and it’s not unlike waking up on Christmas morning and finding a stocking full of goodies.

The contents:

  • Midori Traveler’s Notebook Star Edition
  • Assortment of Midori Star Edition extras: charm, two rolls of washi/masking tape (large and small), sticker set, brass clips, and notebook refill
  • A bottle of Diamine ink in Marine
  • Goulet Pen Cleaning Set, including Goulet Pen Flush, ink syringes (2), and bulb syringe
  • Ink Sample Vial Holder and a monthly membership to Ink Drop (samples every month!)

This great collection was painstakingly wrapped and packaged by Goulet’s incredible staff (specifically, Randall).  Everything was wrapped individually in a blue cling-wrap, and then again collectively in cling-wrap and a few layers of bubble-wrap.  Nothing leaking, bent, broken or damaged … for which I am most grateful.  I am sure it is tricky business packaging fragile and liquid items, and they do an incredible job – in addition to providing a great assortment of all things pen- and paper-related.

I look forward to putting all of these items to good use in the coming days …  Meanwhile, a tip of the hat to the great folks at Goulet.

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