Tale of a Vandal Notebook User: #Chronodex Update

watchEven though much of my time is “my own” it’s surprising how elusive it can be. Wanting to see where my time was being siphoned off, I began logging it several months ago.

Logging my time confirmed some things I already knew. Like, I’m the most productive in the morning. Yet, I also discovered an interesting surge of project activity later in the day that I didn’t consciously realize was there. Plus I was surprised to find a project for “down the road” was taking over a lot of my time during a day.

Writers know that sometimes new ideas pop up, and they distract us from the story that needs finishing. New ideas are always bright shiny things. Like pens or ink or balloons, they’re fun to play with.

My thing, though, is to make a note of the new idea, and continue on finishing what’s already been started. Otherwise no story ever sees the words, “The End,” or “End Play,” or “Fade Out.”

Logging my time helped me to send one story to the back burner, and let another take over. It’s rare I do that. In this case, I’m delighted I did. I’m happy with the results, and the decision to track my time.

Chronodex Revisited

Originally, logging my time with Chronodex quickly abandoned Patrick’s design as too “not right for moi.” Instead, I used my own re-design. Once I was comfortable logging time with my own “dial”, it was eventually abandoned, too.

I did it my way...

For a time, I did it my way…

What happened? I returned Patrick Ng’s original Chronodex design. Why? Because I felt I was missing something more… fun.


Apparently I needed a transition to get to the Chronodex!

Bringing the Midori into the Mix

I thought a lot about how Patrick Ng used his Chronodex in his Midori Traveler’s Notebook (referred to herein as “TN”). Patrick’s Chronodex diary pages  require using the TN “sideways.” (From this American perspective anyway.)

The dimensions of the TN are 8.5″ x 5.1″.  With Patrick’s pages, you are using the Chronodex by writing and reading with the longest side turned toward you.

Midori Traveler's Notebook, with Chronodex pages

Midori Traveler’s Notebook, with Chronodex pages (long side view)

Many people have adapted his design into one that works for them. For instance, printing the diary or calendar pages so that the pages sit “portrait” style. Still others (myself included), have adapted the Chronodex to fit into the smaller sized notebooks.

Pocket sized portrait-view Chronodex pages

Pocket sized portrait-view Chronodex pages

Indeed, I thought hard about continuing to use the Chronodex in my Oberon Design pocket notebook.

Yet I also pondered Patrick’s diary design, and thought about the advantages of reading and writing using it. Even though he encourages folks to use the Chronodex in a way that works for each individual, I thought there might be something to be found in using it “his way.” (Or close to it.)

It’s important to think for ourselves, and to find our own way. Yet at the same time it’s important to pay attention to those who’ve already blazed the trail we are trapising along on. A wonderful life paradox.

Two events conspired to shut down my incessant pondering, and move me back to Chronodex. First, Patrick released the July-Dec 2014 Chronodex pages. Second, MyMaido had a huge sale on the Traveler’s Notebooks. (Nearly 35% off and free shipping!)  I bought a brown TN.

Using Patrick’s Chronodex Diary Pages

Patrick’s pages are meant to be printed on A4 paper. Not having any blank A4, I simply used 8.5″ x 11″. On my printer (an HP laser printer), printing the A4 design to American letter-sized paper meant making sure the pages were scaled at 100%, using duplex mode, and selecting “short binding” for perfect output of the pages. I had to hand feed the pages for printing the calendar back to back. Lastly, the pages were cut down to fit the TN.

Then I simply stapled the Chronodex pages at the center fold, and inserted the Chronodex into the TN.

I made some mistakes in the cutting, but nothing earth shattering. The pages can be cut shorter for a better fit next time. Like in January 2015.

[Note 2015 Jan: Perhaps because I’m in quiet wintery mode (AKA paying attention), it was simple to print the Jan-Jun 2015 pages; no hand feeding required unless you don’t happen to have a duplex printer. I cut the 8 1/2″ x 11″ pages better this year to fit the Midori TN. I, uh, even rounded the corner edges! I did decide to use Staples sugar cane copy paper this time. It’s much thinner than the HP #32 paper, and it’s fountain pen ink friendly. Inks of choice for my 2015 Chronodex are Sailor Sei-Boku, and Platinum Preppy highlighters in green, orange, and pink whatever inks are in my Sailor Brush highlighting pens.]

Chronodex 2015 pages, printed on Staples 20# sugar cane copy paper, cut properly to fit the Midori

Chronodex 2015 pages, printed on Staples 20# sugar cane copy paper, cut properly to fit the Midori. Underneath the Chronodex pages is a Midori blank notebook.

There you have it: picking up Patrick Ng’s design again, I used it in earnest.

The Chronodex was no longer disorienting. I no longer worried about how the time was noted in the design. I simply used it, and made the time slots my own as I filled them in.

What is different between the two radial formats? My more traditional dial seemed flat, not really much different that capturing information in a linear fashion.

The Chronodex is, well, it’s alive. The Chronodex grows arms, legs, and webbed feet.


The pages are far more visually stimulating as they’re filled up. Looking at pages sometimes leads me to think about my projects in different ways. There are patterns, certainly, in how a project takes over any given day. Yet there are also interesting spurts of work on one idea over another that stand out better on the Chronodex. Also, instead of flipping through individual days, I can see a week at a time.

These are not facts that you can apply ad hominum to your own life. These  musings are merely how I experience using the Chronodex.

Using the Midori

The Midori Traveler’s Notebook came with a blank notebook insert. That too, I’m using in “landscape” format. The blank notebook serves as my current gratitude diary.

Sharing the TN: Chronodex and Midori blank notebook

Sharing the TN: Chronodex and Midori blank notebook. My Chronodex pages are a little long, ay?

The Midori TN is far heftier than my little Oberon notebook.

Oberon Pocket Cover next to Midori Traveler's Notebook

Oberon Pocket Cover next to Midori Traveler’s Notebook

Adding to the TN’s heft is the HP #32 paper I used to print out the Chronodex.

For the truly weight obsessed, the Chronodex Jul-Dec 2014 planner printed on HP #32 weighs 94 grams! The blank Midori insert  is only 69 grams. I might print next year’s pages on less weightier paper, yet I do love the feel of the nib against the HP paper, as well as the “pop” of the white pages.

[Note 2015 Jan: I did decide to use Staples sugar cane copy paper for 2015. The weight of my Jan-Jun 2015 Chronodex is only 58 grams. The entire weight of my TN is now 256 grams; not the 289 grams mentioned in the next paragraph. 2015 has same configuration as below only with the Chronodex  printed on lighter sugar cane paper.]

With Chrondex pages, a DIY pocket folder, and the Midori blank notebook my TN weighs 289 grams. My Oberon with three DIY notebooks weighs a mere 157 grams. Empty the Midori TN weighs only 113 grams; the Oberon 78 grams.


The Oberon still gets lots of use. It’s simply not devoted to time anymore. The Oberon is the one that fits in my back pocket. The TN I carry in my laptop or book bag.

If anything, I hope my Chronodex experience serves as a reminder that sometimes we need to look beyond what’s comfortable, outside our own imaginations in order for new inspirations to seep in. When we are too comfortable with how we live with, like, or perceive things, we may miss something useful, something inspiring, or something important.

Yeah, somethin’ like that.


And because Rumi states it so well and with great humor, here’s one of his poems:

   Who makes these changes?
I shoot an arrow right.
It lands left.
I ride after a deer and find myself
chased by a hog.
I plot to get what I want
and end up in prison.
I dig pits to trap others
and fall in.

I should be suspicious
of what I want.

Barks, Coleman; Jalal al-Din Rumi (2010-09-14). The Essential Rumi – reissue: New Expanded Edition (Kindle Locations 2057-2059). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

To download Patrick Ng’s Chronodex here you go

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