Recent Chronodex Highlights: Time Management in a Distraction-Free Environment.

An organized mind has greater clarity
a mind organized in a distraction-free environment will reach that clarity much faster.

In this post, I wish to promote the immersion into a distraction-free environment when working on your time management system. An environment with minimal stimuli, where your mind can truly attend to the complexity of your thoughts and then organize them in the most beneficial of ways.

 Focused organization is important:  Too often our busy lives force us to multitask when we should be more single-task oriented. Too much multitasking will leave our days filled with underdeveloped thoughts/actions and inefficient uses of time. A few years ago I reached my fill of shallow organization and challenged myself to evaluate the situations I am better off multitasking and those times I do the best single-task work. In summary, I have found that multitasking works best when executing a well thought out plan and my time for focused single-task work is when I am planning/ evaluating & reflecting on a project.
As a side note, upon finishing this critique is when I decided to commit to a specific analog time management system. I  chose the Chronodex (along with bullet journalling and mind mapping). 

Look for your optimal environment to organize yourself:  Everyone's idea of what is a quiet, distraction-free environment is bound to be a bit different but there are three lowest common denominators that we should all try to strive for: as quiet as possible, with as few distractions as possible and in a physical place that makes us comfortable. 

The benefits of organizing in a distraction free environment:  You will find that once you have found your ideal place and time to work on your time management system:
1. Solutions come faster because of the greater focus
2. Solutions are more developed
3. Emergence of more fruitful project tangents
4. Reflection becomes more meaningful
5. The next day is more productive and thereby more fulfilling (if you can stick to the plan)

Life is busy enough, I challenge everyone to at least organize it in a pressure-free, distraction-free environment.

A Challenge Posed: Making a Seal on Ball-Tip Ink Cartridges for Longer Term Storage

Protect that ballpoint, rollerball or gel ink cartridge in-between rotations:

There are big differences between the properties of these inks, however they are all commonly deployed by a ball-tip ink cartridge. 

Today's ink formulations and self contained ink cartridge units have greatly increased the length of time a pen may be successfully stored. If an ink cartridge does fail to write after a prolonged period of time, it seems that the greatest culprits are when:
 1-the ink is exposed to air at the ball-tip, then dries at the ball.
2-the suspended particles flocculate creating a dam in the ink flow.
 3-an air pocket has formed between the ball and the reserve of ink.

Now, if there is a pen that will need to sit out of rotation for a lengthier period of time and you want to take some precautions to increase the chances of a successful storage, then tackling the top 3 problem areas is a good start. This post is specifically about two techniques to help prevent the ink from being exposed to air at the balled-tip of the cartridge. 

Protecting the ink flow by creating a seal around the cartridge's ball mechanism:  

 The size of the ball is the main difference between the types of cartridges. The truth is that each style of pen uses a range of sizes but the most common sizes can be generalized as:
Ballpoints commonly range between .7mm to 1.omm (most common)  
Rollerballs commonly range between .5mm and .7mm
Gel pens commonly range between .3mm and 1.0mm
Despite all of these sizes, the actual ball mechanism is still relatively very small. This is good because that means the seal needed to wrap the tip will also be very small.  

Two techniques to help prevent the ink from being exposed to air:

I am sure there are many possible sealants out there, but these two I have found interesting because they are: made from easy to source materials, they are conveniently already in my home, fast to apply, fast to remove and the both create a reliable seal.

Technique #1: Creating a seal using Plumber's tape. Also known as Teflon tape, PTFE tape or Polytetrafluoroethylene film. This is the faster of the two to apply and easier to remove. A few other perks from using Plumber's tape is that it comes in these small rolls that are inexpensive, easy to store and create no mess.
Technique #2: Creating a seal using an air drying rubber coating called Plasti Dip. This material has a much greater adhesion and an even tighter fitting profile than the Plumbers tape. The down side, is that it takes 10 minutes to dry and 30 minutes to fully cure.

Making a seal with Plumber's tape:

In the following image gallery I have 3 different ballpoint pens that I use as examples:
1- A nock pen with good clearance between the cartridge and the barrel= Parker Jotter
2- A capped pen = Fisher Space Pen
3- A nock pen with little clearance between the cartridge and the barrel = Lamy Noto

Application is actually EXTREMELY easy and is best shown in a short video.

Removal is even simpler yet.

Below is a recipe card for making a seal with Plumber's tape. Please feel free to save these images for your own use. 

Making a seal with Plasti Dip:

Below is another recipe card that I invite you to use. Here you will find the 4 ballpoint pens from from the Plumber's tape card plus an image of a Pilot G2 (on the second page's bottom left pane). Air drying rubber coatings come in both aerosol spray or in a liquid paint can. Either can be used with relative ease. 

In conclusion, I find that both techniques are viable seals. The Plasti Dip will create the more durable and air tight seal but the prep time and mess factor greatly detract from its attractiveness.

Disclaimer: I am very comfortable trying these on my own writers however,  I do not take any responsibility for anyone else trying these techniques on their own equipment.
It is really a shame that I have to make a disclaimer, but "needs must when the devil drives". (There is always someone who is surprised by how hot the coffee is.)

Make Your Own Pocket For Your 3"X5" Notebook

Adding a simple pocket to the inside of the front cover of your pocket notebook is an excellent way to expand the notebook's organizational capacity.

I use a small template in order to make quick work of creating a new pocket. 
Below is the template and visual for using the template.
PLEASE feel free to save the template and print at your leisure. Print at full screen.

I prefer to use old photographs, postcards or some kind of thicker card stock that I can draw on. My overall preference though is for photographs. They really do hold up really well (unless you have a really sweaty bum) and add a meaningful decorative element to a strictly functional pocket.

With the pocket added, I can now easily include my trusty grid ruler and some index cards.
Life becomes a bit more complete now.

A side by side comparison really shows off the increased functionality of the notebook.

A side by side comparison really shows off the increased functionality of the notebook.

A parting shot of the changeout from one "pocketed" notebook to another.