Are you lost? Overwhelmed?
Do you know where you are? What tasks you need to do? What your obligations are?
What you need… is a map.
A map to show you where you are, where you are going, and what you need to do.
Today, I am going to discuss a powerful technique called “mind mapping” that will do just that.
Do You Know Where You Are?
When people are trying to get organized or get their time management on track, one of the biggest challenges they face is taking stock of their current situation.
What they need to do. What their workload is. Where they stand.
“If you don’t know where you are…how do you know where you need to go?”
Seems basic enough.
However, taking stock of your personal situation can be a daunting task, especially when starting from scratch.
One of the best (and quickest) ways to do this is to make what is called a “mind map.”
Mind maps are quick, powerful, and simple.
I have used them for years both at work and in my personal life.
Making a mind map can help you get a quick assessment of your situation. It can help you stop being driftwood on the river of life, and help you make better decisions.
Make a (Mind) Map
You may have heard of mind mapping. It has been gaining in popularity in the last few years, especially with the advance of software applications that make it much easier and intuitive.
The basic concept is that you create a visual tree structure of your ideas. Most mind maps start with a central idea or word and then have branches outward of the various sub-topics.
You can use software or you can keep it simple and just use pen and paper.
I prefer using an app. The software has come a long way and provides some powerful features. The simple ability to drag-and-drop ideas around the map is reason enough for me to make my maps on my laptop or iPad. When I brainstorm, ideas will often move around my map as concepts develop.
Here is a sample of simple mind map:
It shows some basic categories. You can see how you can quickly group ideas into sub-topics and lists.
Just a few of the benefits of mind maps:
- Get the 10000 Foot View – Mind maps are a powerful way to see many different ideas, projects, todos, etc… all on the same canvas. They are a quick way to see the “big picture.”
- Brainstorming – I have used many methods for brainstorming. Nothing compares to the ability of mind maps to help you sort out ideas. It works great in group settings, as well. I often use a projector to display the map, which allows the team to collaborate.
- Visual – Researchers tout the visual nature of mind maps and the ability of our brains to better remember “maps” versus traditional note-taking. I am not going to go into the academics, but just as pictures are powerful, maps are a powerful way to get a “picture” of your idea or project.
- Concise – A single page mind map can easily represent a multiple page document. Does your boss want to read a 10 page report? Or would he prefer to quickly scan a 1 page map that gives him the instant concept of your ideas?
Where is Your Map?
If you are feeling lost and overwhelmed, maybe you need to make a mind map of your situation.
Take a break and draw yourself a map. Get a lay of the land to discover where you really stand. Then you’ll be ready to attack your tasks and goals with vigor.
Come back tomorrow to see how I use Mind Maps to brainstorm ideas. I will give a quick tutorial that will have you drawing your own mind maps in no time.
(The map above was made using MindMeister (affiliate link), an online mind mapping tool.)
Do you use mind maps to find your way? Share your favorite uses in the comments.