Prompt 2: A Visualization of a Week in Between Time Zones

GSMD-500 | Grad Design Studio 1 
Prompt 2: Material

I wanted to choose a material that wasn’t tangible as I have worked with a myriad of materials such as paper, wood, metal, clay, plastic, etc. in my undergrad. This time, I wanted to enhance my visualization skills and expand how I create enticing forms of intangibles.

Tracking My Personal Data

I chose to track my personal data as my material—specifically my schedule, as someone who currently studies in a different time zone from the one I live by on a daily basis. Upon making of this prompt, I am still based in the Philippines and I have noticed myself experiencing considerable fatigue by having my classes from 11:30pm to 6:30 am.

I’m the type of person who puts everything on my calendar and would time block all activities of my day—even sleep. With this, I opted to track my actual daily activities and compare and contrast the data with my initial planned schedule for the week. I also made daily journal logs to assess why certain diversions from the planned schedule happen if there are any.

I took notes of my daily activities through logging them in my tablet using a makeshift legend I made to signify task start and end times as well as what happens in between. I, however, shifted to digitally color blocking in the hours as planned (yellow) and actual (blue) with delays (red) should there be any. It is interesting to see how they compare once overlayed on top of one another. I wanted to translate this to a physical artefact through the opacity of parchment paper.

Opacity: Layering of Color, Light, and Shadows

I looked into the exploration of how light, shadows, and opacity play a role in translating visualization to a physical artefact.

I then tried looking for other ways to visualize the 24-hour daily observation period. I opted to visualize it in cycles. I translated these into physical representations that made use of color and shades to visualize a different variable that when stacked would visualize a daily and hopefully a weekly overview of the personal data being tracked.

To further my exploration of forms to visualize the data, I opted to go back to linear forms but this time integrating a variety of shapes to symbolize different variables. I chose to represent the 24 hours into a straight line where circles would represent sleep—their diameter visualizing the amount of sleep in hours—and color blocks to symbolize a contrast between the planned and actual schedules. I tried translating the form to paper through layering of cutouts, this time without using color and only relying on form and depth.

After finalizing my form exploration, I went back to integrate opacity into the exploration. I made a visual board to highlight the mood and visual appeal expected from the final output.

Visual Board

I then tried exploring the plastic material I have, putting it under light, marking it with ink, and playing off of its grainy property that allowed for it to refract light. I noticed that when the plastic sheet is marked, the marking becomes blurry once another sheet was overlayed on top of it with a gap in between. And as the two sheets draw nearer to one another, the marking becomes more and more clear.

I then printed out the respective patterns for each planned and actual daily schedules for the 7-day observation period.

I had marked delays in the actual schedule with three dash lines to indicate delays caused by environmental factors such as unprecedented family events or falling asleep and a zigzag pattern that represented emotional factors in the delay of activities, most prominently a lack of motivation. This insight was based on the daily journal logs compared to the schedule data collected.

With the plastic sheet’s property to refract light, from a distance away, both patterns look similar, and a viewer would only see the mark tainting their schedule. This gives a sense of anxiety and guilt over not accomplishing things according to the planned schedule. However, it is important to learn what caused such delays to better understand how we (I) can stop blaming ourselves and feel guilt over the deviations to plans.

Comparison of the planned (orange) and actual (blue) schedules of a day under a white light.
Accumulation of seven days of data under a white light.


This prompt being personal to me as it used my personal data was very beneficial to gain insights about how I go about my day, especially in this challenging time of my life where I am living and interacting with people in my home country but studying in the time of another’s.

Based on the data collected, and the visualizations generated, I have acknowledged that I do in fact have been lacking in proper sleep as my classes take place at 11:30pm to 6:30am. Despite scheduling sleep time blocks sometime in the day, I still can’t find myself to fully commit to it as I would only get an average of four hours of sleep. I have also noticed that short bursts of sleep are more commonly observed rather than the supposed 8-hour sleep schedule I used to have.

I have also seen when in a day I usually do activities as well as reschedule delayed tasks. I have the habit to immediately catch up with a delayed tasks during my next vacant time block. I think this is me trying to catch up with my schedule due to the fear of not being able to accomplish everything I set myself to do and not being “according to plan”, highlighting my rigid nature.

However, because of this prompt, I was able to go out of my comfort zone and work with creating visualizations and working with an exploratory mindset with no definitive output in mind. I have always been challenged with visually appealing graphics as I have been more function-oriented when it comes to my designs, so it was nice to break free from that self-placed constraint and I hope to continue developing my visualization skills further.

As someone who highlights self-care and personal development, even having made my undergrad thesis about time management for a healthy study work-life balance, I am significantly challenged by the current situation I am in and cannot wait to be back to living under one time zone. Through this prompt and the exercises, I have undertaken, I was able to be more mindful of how I go about being flexible with certain things in life, particularly my time.

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