(Video link here.) We spend a good amount of time trying out ways to corral ours minds (which love to wander off down interesting paths), and make best use of our time. We’ve tried numerous day/task planners, starting with the ever-great Filofax years ago in our quest for one that really works. We recently came across a graphical way to plan time that claims to liberate us from linear agendas and apps. The GutenTag Method features a clock face that you stamp into a notebook. You graph your day around it, on a single page.

We found downsides and wonderful benefits once we started hacking the idea.


The first problem for us: we don’t want to have to rely on a stamp and stamp pad; it’s two things too many. We do like the idea of using a big pad for work when in our office/laboratory and plotting things graphically.

So we tried just drawing GutenTag’s Original clock in a notebook thinking to use it as a model (our 9 x 9 -inch square Bee Paper sketch book is perfect). We found it curiously compresses the hours of 6 pm to 6 am, assuming “most people don’t plan as much during these hours”. Hey, we do. We work at night.

So we made our own clock to try the idea out, first drawing a circle. Ekk.

Sally Schneider

The circle was so confining, we dispensed with it altogether, just drawing the numbers in clock positions. It was a breath of air…All that space in a day. It reminded us of a haiku:

Emerging from a perfect sphere;
Yet how long it is:
A spring day.

Sally Schneider

We start our day between 8 and 9. So we went from there in a 12-hour cycle, notating basic tasks on the outside of our “day”.  When we got to the evening, we wrote our tasks on the inside.


Just from our few rough tries, we realized that there are lots of possibilities for hacking the GutenTag Method, starting with that clear circle of numbers 1 through 12. We find we LOVE plotting the day graphically and are going to keep trying it until we develop a method that works.

Seeing our work all laid out on an imaginary clock makes time look and seem different…curiously more spacious.

We are grateful for the idea GutenTag Method gave us…


If you would like to buy the GutenTag stamp, you’ll find it here.


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8 replies on “GutenTag’s Graphical Day Planner Inspired Our Own

  1. I have absolutely no connection to Charlie Gilkey and his various planners and tools and podcasts and workshops for creatives, except I’m a fan. I have found all the free stuff on his Productive Flourishing site very useful – and therefore of incredible value.

    There is one tool that resonates with this posting: a twenty-four-hour template that is designed as a ‘heat map’ for us to track our productivity time throughout the day and use the results to help us organize our time. Take away the extraneous details on the page, and you have a 24-hour circle for the middle of your journal page. I do like the idea of the inside/outside the circle as a way of dealing with this issue. But it’s not for everyone.

    Have a look and the heat map pdf free for download at http://www.productiveflourishing.com/free-planners/

    Also, if one wants to have a stamp for the clock face, it is easy to acquire one in a stamp shop or have one made with exactly what you want on it. Even self-inking ones for taking along. Many teachers use the blank clock face for teaching telling time on analogue watches (imagine!) so this can be available through the classroom supplier stores. Just sayin’.

  2. This is lovely and wonderfully creative, and right up my alley, but I was surprised to find this visualization terribly claustrophobic, even without the circle 🙁

    Since I tend to think of time as ceaseless forward movement, mapping it into a circle felt like a dizzying neverending loop, and I was overwhelmed with sensations of whirling in a tornado or circling a drain. Got me thinking about how I tend to think of time: apparently as a generally linear path on which I can travel at varying speeds (since our experience of time often slows/speeds depending on mental state, activity, and age). I’m now very curious about what kind of sensations different representations of time would give different people?

  3. Judi, thank you SO much for alerting me to Productive Flourishing. It is a TROVE of resources and I’m just wrapping my head around the heat map. My hack of the clock planner I wrote about totally changed my day and made it both more pleasurable and productive. I’m always on the look out for new paths to offer readers, as everyone’s brain is different.

    And thank you too for the reminder of how easy it is to have a self inking stamp custom made!

  4. Thank you Kimity. It’s amazing how differently people respond to graphics and approaches to scheduling. What made me productive and chill today made you anxious and disoriented. I totally get it. That’s why I present different models that I’ve seen, and ENCOURAGE hacking, tailoring, doing whatever works for YOU!

  5. Wow, thank you for sending me to Guixe’s site. LOTS there, and some that I will write about.

  6. for someone who doesn’t like a typical calendar planner because it has never felt like my day is going to be,
    i love the circe planner;
    to me, it really brings forth the FEELING of a waxing and waning day–and then makes it easier for me to plan things more intuitively, because i have different feelings and motivations associated with different times of the day…something the square traditional planners never had for me.

  7. Reminds me a bit of the Owaves planner app (http://owaves.com), which I find visually appealing, but I’ve never been able to make it work for me — too cumbersome, not able to see all the details at a glance. A hand-drawn version doesn’t really work for me either, though — just a little too messy for me. I like the idea of the stamp. Thanks for the resource!

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