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Journaling can help us make sense of the past by keeping a record of it, but it can also help us plan the future. Widely used time management apps and Google calendars can efficiently remind people of important appointments but using paper and pen allows people to create their own blueprint of time.

“If you need to introduce what a journal book is to an alien, just tell him it’s about how you schedule your own time,” says Ng Jay from the design group called Gun, Please Design.

For the past four years, the group of Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) graduates has been designing a schedule book for CUHK students. This year, they shrank the size of the book to that of a traveller’s notebook instead of the conventional A6 size. They also made it slimmer and more portable by abandoning weekly organisation and basing their design on a yearly schedule. The designers eventually named their creation “Annual Techo” (年計手帳) but their initial choice was “Chronolog”, a log of time.

“Chronodex” time management system designed by Patrick Ng
“Chronodex” time management system designed by Patrick Ng

This chimes with Patrick Ng’s creation, the Chronodex time mapping system. Ng’s design is based on the idea of a clock over a 24-hour day. There are four layers in a Chronodex, representing the importance and urgency of work. Each 15 minutes counts as a session. Ng usually shades the Chronodex segments in different colours which indicate varying levels of urgency. For example, to him, red refers to something that is important but that he is reluctant to do; green means normal while blue means something he loves.

As the creator of the Chronodex system, Ng provides templates of his system for fellow journal keepers to download for free. It is a labour of love that he undertakes to help fellow journal keepers tackle their tasks in a stress-free manner, and also to unleash his own creativity.

“Other than relieving stress, journaling keeps you in control, to let you have time to be creative. We don’t have time to be creative since we are passive when things happen to us. When you can proactively manage your time, then you can be creative,” say Ng.

Edited by Cindy Gu