Being the time-management freak that I am, I look at organizational tips with such lust that the only ones who understand are people who are ‘paper lover’ — in the ultimate search for the perfect organizer.
I remember loving paper and pen and colors and markers ever since I was a little girl. It satisfied my need for an organized chaos, my love for colors, and supplied me the excitement that only a blank piece of paper and pen can give me.
I have recently started using a Midori traveler’s notebook for my daily writings and it has been working well for me (and I probably should write about how and why I use it; some of you lovely people might find it useful). After my complete and utter failure with the Filofax system, I swore to never mix the world of planning with the world of daily writing.
How did we meet
I remember seeing these beautiful charts in YouTube videos and on Pinterest pictures. I had no idea what the chart meant, only that it helped people to keep track of their tasks. ‘Well’, I thought, ‘this is some fancy way of keeping a log. I don’t need that, especially not in my notebook.’.
A log is a way of keeping track of your time and tasks; kind of like a food journal. You write down on a piece of paper when you start a task — what task you’re working on and when you finish the task. This way, if you pop on to Facebook in the middle of your work, you need to log it in. And when you constantly tattle tell on yourself, it loses its appeal.
The greatest benefit of the log is the ability to analyze your habits and routines, and then use it to create a time management system that works seamlessly into your life.
So why do we need anything else?
Because logging time is not for everyone. In fact, it’s not even for me. This is something I am willing to do once every few months, to make sure my internal clock and habits still match my time management system. But I would never log on a daily basis. For me, it makes time management into a project of its own, and that’s the last thing I need.
What is Chronodex?
Chronodex is a graphic way of tracking where your time goes. It was invented by Patrick Ng, and it has many variations.
In this review, I will be addressing the original Chronodex as well as about my own twist – the DoubleDex (not Spiraldex, Hyperdex or Rhomnydex or any other custom-made chronodex; if you would like to read more about the different types of customizations, please feel free to comment below and I’ll be happy to write about it).
The chronodex resembles a clock. It has a section for every hour (some are only for 12 hours, others for 16, 1 or even 24). Every section is divided into quarters, and has 3 lengths — short, medium and long.
The point is to color every segment according to your occupation during the time. You could create a color coding system and track your work vs. classes, hobbies, time with friends and family and house chores OR you could simple decide you want to track the tasks that are on your to-do list, and only color (with 1 color) the times during the day you actually work on something from your daily to-do list.
While the color-coding system allows you a better way to track time and tasks, the latter one allows you to simply know when you tend to get distracted and how much time you REALLY invest in what’s prioritized as important for your business.
Many people wonder why there are 3 different lengths to the time section (short, medium and long). The idea behind it is quite smart: It’s made for all you multi-taskers out there. When you are doing a task that can not be mixed with anything else (like filming a video, creating an outline for your future online course or writing a blog post) you will fill in the time slot to it’s full length (even if the time wedge is shorter, you’re allowed to go outside the lines). If the task was something you can mutli-task (like exporting a video while you make lunch) you will color a part of the height of the wedge with one color and the rest with the other (to represent 2 types of tasks that you did during that piece of time).
Another brilliant way to use it is for accountability purposes. When you are doing a task the COULD have been multi-tasked but wasn’t, you fill in only part of the length and leave the rest blank. That’s your way of tracking a “wasted” piece of time on your chronodex.
Here’s an example of a Chronodex used by a multi-tasker:
You could also use it to track other people’s time. For example, you could track your spouse’s time next to your own. This method is brilliant for those who run a family business or simply raise a big family and need to know when are other people around for gatherings and such.
The idea of a visual log that is customizable is brilliant; it makes life a lot easier especially if you create your own use for it. This is a very simple tool, therefore, the only way to mess it up is if you decide to be a hero and use 12 colors when you usually can’t keep track of your meetings alone.
Moral of story: Keep it simple, you can always make things harder later!
How I used the Chronodex
I actually broke my promise to myself and am using it in my Midori. I started by using a Chronodex for each day (I don’t track ALL days; just the ones where it’s important for me to see patterns or keep a close track after my time). And beneath it, I have a list of everything I want to do. I color code the to-do list as well as the chronodex itself. This helps me to keep track after what I actually did, and not just the type of activity. And, usually, I create little bulks of tasks and prioritize them on the page itself. This way, I can know in a glance what’s my next task and whether or not I need to shift my focus from one type of activity to the other.
The DoubleDex and why it’s the best tracker in the world
There are a lot of different variations to the Chronodex, each is meant for a slightly different use. Some are meant to allow you to track a full 24 hours at a glance, others help you track multiple tasks at the same time and there are even those that are meant for the micro-managers among us, presenting a tool that gives the ability to track up to 10 minutes-worth of tasks.
My problem with all the existing variations, including the original Chronodex, was that I had to pick which function was the most important one. What it means is – I had to give up some features to gain others.
I’m not very good at giving up things. I’d much rather have it all in one.
This is why I decided to create my own variation to the Chronodex based on all the existing variations out there. I took all the core features and merged them into one, and put it to the test.
It’s been 6 months, and I am using it religiously. This really works.
So let’s get to it
Here’s how the DoubleDex looks like:
There are two 12-hour circles here. You can use them to track all 24 hours, or you can use each circle to track different times of day. For example, you could use one circle for work hours and one for personal time. Another possible use is to track different tasks all together – outer circle for your day job and inner for your side-hustle, or courses, house chores – the list goes on. And of course for those of you who need to track more than one person’s time – there is that option too.
You might notice that the outer circle allows more space for coloring than the inner circle. I use the outer circle for my work hours, because the larger space allows me to track smaller tasks and be more accurate with my tracking. The inner circle, in my case, is used for leisure time, when most tasks tend to take longer and don’t require the same level of accuracy.
Thanks to the two circles, each hour has a larger slot, which allows to divide each hour into 4 sections. What it means for you is that you are able to track even the shortest tasks using the DoubleDex. No more trying to color 10 minutes and ending with 30 😉
Here are some pictures of how I use this daily:
My color coding:
I have quite a few colors, and it works well for me at the time. However, please note that I’m a time-management nomad, so I switch things up frequently and in a month from now, I might be using only 1 color instead of the 8 I use now.
I divide my types of activities to colors and within the colors into shades. So Blues are work, pink is working with other people, oranges and yellows are personal and home things, etc.
I like dividing my work into creative tasks and methodical tasks. This way, I know in which part of day to plan them according to my MVTS (Most Valuable Time Slot). I like to know how much time I invested in engaging with my listeners and readers and how much time I invested in helping people out (creating artwork for friends’ podcasts, working on avatars, giving feedback and so on).
The yellow color represents me-time. It used to be a big chunk of my time, and I wanted to find out if it’s because I waste so much time on YouTube and Amazon, or is it because I invest in preparing healthy snacks and doing power walks (I initially wanted to create another color for health activities but voted against it because it started feeling like a little bit too much for my liking). So, I add black lines to the yellow if it’s a health-related me-time and dots if it’s my planning time (as I invest some time every morning into planning out my day).
The best part about the Chronodex/DoubleDex is that you decide what and how you want to track. And the result is immediate and easy to understand.
It’s something to remember. When you’re done with a task, you need to remember to mark it there, and it might be annoying for some people. This is why I truly recommend with starting with marking only 1 color that represents tasks in your to-do list. This way, you will be able to track the time you spend on what’s really important and, hopefully, create a healthier system for getting things done.
The Chronodex is completely free and is constantly re-innovated by Patrick. Bravo!
My tweak to the original, the DoubleDex, is free of charge and you can download it by clicking here:
Where to find it
It’s all over the internet, so basically anywhere! But the original is here.
This is a great tool that can be used both to help create a time system that works, AND monitor it. I think everyone should give it a try!