Posts Tagged ‘mandala business diary’

Flexible Focus #42: Time Lapse as a Mandala Movie

by William Reed on February 24, 2011

A framework for time

The 3×3 framework of the Mandala Chart lends itself well to showing the relationship of the frames as a visual Gestalt, a whole which is greater than the sum of its parts. The bird’s eye view gives you a 3-dimensional perspective. But what about the 4th dimension, that of time?

Most discussions about the 4th dimension focus on its abstract geometry, trying to visualize what it would be like to be 90-degrees perpendicular to the 3rd dimension, in effect looking at the transformation of a 3-dimensional object over time. This is not so difficult to imagine if you look at the effect you get in time-lapse photography, where you can watch a flower grow, or see a full day of cloud transformations in the span of a few minutes. Time-lapse in real time – it is even closer at hand than that, because we all experience transformation moment to moment.

Putting time in a new perspective

One of the major benefits of the Mandala Chart is that it can take you out of the conventional experience of time, and give you a different perspective on your experience. Hungarian Biochemist Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, 1937 Nobel Prize Winner said that, “Discovery consists of looking at the same thing as everyone else and thinking something different.” Looking at time from a different perspective can trigger creative insights, just as looking at paintings gives us a different perspective on everyday objects, faces and places.

People who live in a city pass by the same places everyday with the same eyes, often missing the freshness of it all in the moment. David Michaud captures the City of Tokyo with fresh eyes in his Tokyo Safari, the other Japan, a brilliant video montage of Tokyo in time. Music is quite compatible with time-lapse photos and video, because music exists in time.

In Geological lapse time, even mountain ranges and continents heave and swell like a turbulent ocean. A glacier may appear stationary, when it is actually flowing at about an inch per hour. A rock made of crystalline granite may appear to be solid, when in fact it is still cooling down from its original molten igneous state. The ground beneath us appears to stand still, but in reality the earth spins on its axis at the equator at a speed of 1670 kilometers/hour (1070 miles/hour)! All of these movements occur in time, though on a scale that is undetectable to our five senses.

Your sense of history also changes when you see it from the perspective of historical lapse-time. Swedish medical doctor, academic, statistician, and public speaker Hans Rosling shows a brilliant lapse-time view with an animated graph of 200 countries over 200 years in 4 minutes. This lapse-time view of improvements in health and wealth in the world’s nations over time shows you that despite the proclamations of the pessimists, things have actually gotten considerable better for most of the world’s population in the last 200 years.

Practical applications of the time-lapse perspective

There is a well-developed system in place for putting your life into lapse-time perspective. We have already seen in a previous article how you can put your life in the grand perspective of a 100 Year Life Span. A calendar is really just a matrix for time, and there is a practical way to apply the Mandala Chart to your own calendar with the Mandala Business Diary.

Storyboards is another way to look at events in time through frames. Storyboards were developed by Walt Disney Studios, as an effective way to visualize a story before creating the expensive animations. For a good look behind the scenes, see the video on Finding Lady: The Art of Storyboarding. Although Storyboards are a tool used in film production, they are also a good way to plan a slide presentation, as developed by Cliff Atkinson in Beyond Bullet Points, as a revolutionary approach to PowerPoint. Here you can download Storyboard Templates on Printable Paper, and experiment with creating your own illustrated time-lapse sequences.

Cartoons also illustrate events over time through stories. What goes into the frames are significant events and images, mostly containing dialog or showing emotion, all connected in a sequential time-lapse of events. Japanese Manga are a highly evolved approach to telling a story in visual form, as described in The Magic of Storyboard. You can read my own story in Manga form, designed in an 8 frame form, much like a Mandala Chart.

So as you create and use Mandala Charts, try to see them from the perspective of the 4th dimension, time and transformation. It will add a new dimension to your enjoyment of flexible focus

Flexible Focus #31: Mobile Mandala

by William Reed on December 9, 2010

Flexible Focus is Physical

One of the best ways to benefit from the Mandala Chart is to put it to use, engage in it physically. If you step into it, like Alice through the Looking Glass, you will discover that it has many new dimensions to explore.

There are four primary ways of doing this:

  1. Engaging more deeply in the 8 fields of life
  2. Taking action on your thoughts
  3. Presenting or writing about your ideas
  4. Using idea capture software and tools

The best way is to combine one or more of these for full engagement. This means writing, speaking, and working your way through it until you give your ideas shape, life, and substance so that others can benefit from them. The seeds of your ideas may be mental or intuitive in origin, but their implementation is very much a physical process.

The Best of Both Worlds

The Mandala Chart is a tool to facilitate flexible focus, and we have already looked at templates for the A-Chart and B-Chart, the Mandala Business Diary, the eMandala Chart. Now there is an idea capture tool that runs on the premiere platform of all, the Apple iPad. MandalaChart iPad is an App that will be released in mid-December 2010, available for purchase in the iTunes Store, for JPY 600 (about USD 4.00).

This is in many ways the best of both worlds, the tool and the technology, thanks to the portability, connectivity, and sheer elegance of the iPad. MandalaChart iPad makes it easier than ever to capture, present, and implement ideas, view and edit templates, and create a true zoom lens for your life.

Its first version will just support text, but the next update will feature hyperlinks and images,  and it only gets better from there. The first version supports A-Charts and B-Charts, so that you can start with the standard 3×3 view, zoom out to 64 frames, or focus in depth on a single frame. You can also store your files in folders.

There will also be a page where you can download free templates, as well as purchase templates and template packets on particular topics. The MandalaChart iPad App will support multiple languages, and you can preview the page for English-language instructions.

You can download a jpg image called Mastering the Mandala Chart, created in the MandalaChart iPad App, which is also a summary and overview of this Flexible Focus series.

If you live in Tokyo, we will be featuring the Mandala Chart iPad, as well as other creativity applications at a special event at the Ginza Apple Store to be held on January 20 (Thu) from 19:00~20:00.

Where this is going

The MandalaChart iPad App is a qualitative and quantitative leap above what came before. It will be an enhanced experience of flexible focus, digital navigation, idea capture and sharing.

It can be the perfect place to store your notes and action lists from articles in this series. Reading leads to understanding, but only action leads to results. Go back and review other articles in this series, and see if you don’t find points that you had forgotten about, or have yet to take action on. Having your ideas all stored in one place will make it easier to find them. Moreover, the MandalaChart iPad App can be a springboard for action and implementation.

Its only limitation is that it only runs on the Apple iPad. The Apple iPad has proved to be hugely successful, approaching sales of 10 million units. There are lots of reasons for its popularity, and this App will add one more. If you are still sitting on the fence, or know someone who is thinking about it, the place to send them is the Apple iPad Page.

From Matrix to Mandala

Templates and content that will be created for the MandalaChart iPad App will help you move along the path From Matrix to Mandala Chart, the subject of an article I wrote for my online column Creative Career Path.

The essential idea is that the reason why it is typically so hard to connect thought and action is that we experience lack of certainty stemming from one of two things. Either we are trapped in the limitations of logic, which ignores emotion and countless other factors; or we are trapped in the ambiguity of intuition, which is easily swayed by wishful thinking. The article proposes that the Mandala Chart is the perfect bridge between logic and intuition, incorporating both through fuzzy logic.

The MandalaChart iPad App is a significant step in integrating idea capture with idea implementation, just as flexible focus is in integrating thought and action.

Flexible Focus #5: The Mandala Business Diary

by William Reed on June 10, 2010

Life and business have a lot to do with how we navigate. Where you go, who you meet, and how you spend your time, makes an enormous difference in the quality of your life and your legacy. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a compass to guide you where you want to go, rather than drifting with the tides and currents?

In The Dash Poem, Linda Ellis speaks of the value of a life not being measured in the dates on the tombstone, but by what happened in the dash between those years. With its reminder of the urgency and opportunity in life, this poem has touched millions of people.

The Mandala Chart gives you a flexible focus framework for looking at that dash, and for doing something significant while you are in it. We have already looked at the Principle of Interdependence in the 8 Frames of Life, Health, Business, Finance, Home, Society, Personal, Study, and Leisure. At the same time, each of these frames is actually a stage for a drama that unfolds over time. Whether you think of time proceeding on a linear timeline, or in repeating cycles like the seasons, you might agree that time is not a noun but a verb. It flows like water, flies like an arrow. It heals all wounds, and wounds all heels.

What you do with time, and how you engage with it makes all of the difference. Time is amorphous like an ocean. As long as time remains a subjective sensation, it is very easy to get lost at sea, as many people are. To get your bearings in life, it helps to have a compass and a map. The function of the Mandala Business Diary is to apply the power of flexible focus to the passing of time. This tool is designed to help you become a power user, learning and applying all of the principles of the Mandala Chart in the process of life work planning.

Although it can function as an ordinary day planner, containing a calendar with the weeks and months of the year, as a tool for the Mandala Chart it has far greater potential. Your skill in using the tool will improve with your understanding of the Mandala Chart.

The Mandala Business Diary was developed in 1979 by Matsumura Yasuo, founder of Clover Management Research and of the Mandala Chart Association. It has a popular following in Japan, but is different from other day planners in several important respects.

Mandala Chart format

It begins with a Personal Planning Chart containing the 8 frames of life, and a Mandala Chart for your business or working goals. Each week is laid out in a Mandala Chart format, with the central frame for Weekly Objectives and Results, surrounding frames for the 7 days of the week, and the 8th frame dedicated to a Review of Weekly Progress. There is also a MEMO section for notes and illustrations.

Multiple entry process

Whereas many day planners have you make an entry once, checking off To Do items as you go, the Mandala Business Diary has you make entries of the same information in several different places. The reason for this is to track your activities with flexible focus. The significance of an item becomes clearer when you can view it alternatively in the context of a day, a week, a year, or even a lifetime. There are also ways of tracking whether or not your goals are integrated synergistically in the 8 frames of life. This prevents you from falling into typical goal traps based on short-sighted vision or outside pressure.

Flexible time frame

The Mandala Business Diary contains a Year Planner, a Monthly Schedule, Weekly Activities, and a Mandala Chart One Hundred Year Life Plan. There are pages for Checklists, which enable monthly measure of your progress toward chosen objectives, as well as pages for free note taking. There is also an expanded Mandala Chart for looking at the bigger picture of 8 x 8, or 64 frames.

The Mandala Business Diary is published annually in a bilingual format, in Japanese and English, and of course the calendar year is in common use. There are a few pages of tips in Japanese, but not as much detail as found in this column. It is published in Japan, but can be ordered through Don’t be thrown by the appearance of Japanese characters on the Amazon site. Just follow these instructions, and while international shipping rates apply, Amazon ships products all over the world.

Although the process of using the Mandala Business Diary is not complicated, it does take practice to master it as a tool for flexible focus thinking and planning. The force of habit has a strong and unconscious grip on your thoughts, attitudes, and behavior. Without understanding the reason for the design of the Mandala Business Diary, it is easy to skip certain sections and revert to using it as a simple day planner. What we do with our time is what we do with our life. Ultimately, that is what determines the quality of the Dash that connects the years in between.

The Mandala Business Diary fits in your pocket or briefcase. It is a great way to capture insights and observations in one place as you plan your life work. However, if you don’t have the Mandala Business Diary, I have created a makeshift version of the Weekly Activities Mandala, which you can download to get started.

There is no problem starting the Mandala Business Diary mid-year, because in any case it can takes months or years of practice to fully integrate the process into your life work planning, and to fully engage with the 8 frames of life. Just start where you are, and create good habits by using the Mandala Chart in your daily life. Then watch the power of continuous improvement begin to work its magic over time