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The Power of Mind Map: Get More Things Done & Make Creativity Easy

The Power of Mind Map: Get More Things Done & Make Creativity Easy

You have a big project coming up, or a bunch of tasks, and are overwhelmed by the thought of it. This overload happens to me way too often,[1] but once I began using a mind map to clarify the direction, the project and tasks don’t seem so frightening.

Whatever your position or place of work is, it is natural that you will have more than one task to handle at any given moment. This could be due to hectic deadlines, a large project made up of many different tasks, or simply you’re loading more and more on yourself in hopes to get more done; how’s the latter been working out for you?

Prior to mind mapping, I jotted all tasks I knew of onto my notepad or in workflowy. On one hand, this is great for as you complete a task, you cross it over and have the amazing feeling of getting things done.[2] On the other hand, I continuously felt that I wasn’t getting ‘the right things’ done. I was crossing off tasks left and right, but are they in line with my overall goals and targets? Or am I just listing tasks in order to cross them off?

With a mind map, I had a more organized process to follow, which helped me avoid missing tasks, while also keeping in line with overall needs.

The Purpose of a Mind Map

Mind mapping is a simple organization process using diagrams to list the information, ideas, and details and assess the big picture.

You begin with a blank page, write the main subject, project, or idea in the middle of the page, and then like a web or branches, expand from it to additional ideas connected to it, and smaller branches to those connected to it, and so on. Think of a family or decision tree, but to help you organize a large project.

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How to Start Mind Mapping from Scratch

The best way to begin mind mapping is with a blank page. Write down the main subject in the middle and begin brainstorming and breaking it down into more-focused categories that aren’t as abstract. This can be done in your notebook, printer paper, as well as online solutions for those who cannot disconnect. (I will recommend some online tools later in this article.)

As you progress, you expand out more branches from the categories and subcategories, in order to make sure to ‘cross your t’s and dot your i’s’ and that nothing is forgotten.

Note: this is to organize project needs, not a manifesto which you begin attending every task within the map. In other words, if there is a branch under content for ‘product pages’, you don’t branch out and start adding the actual text/context of any specific page. We want to keep it clean and clear; completing individual tasks is external from the map.

Let’s take for example a project of a new website. Depending on your needs, this may be a simple or very complex project, but whatever your needs are, with a mind map, you can easily break it down.

You begin in the middle with the project “New Website” and can expand the various branches to it such as: “design”, “development”, “content”, and so on. But it doesn’t stop there, as each subject can be broken down further; with design, it can go into ‘specifications’ (wishes of the new site), ‘characterization’ (behaviors and experience), ‘branding’ (color schemes, themes, style) and much more.

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    Breaking down a main project into separate categories (and then sub-categories) allows us to take a huge project and make it digestible and tangible. What began as an abstract wish is now clear with real direction and is broken down into bite-sized tasks.

    From there, we can create a separate mind-map for each of the main categories to further clarify (if needed), as well as actually prioritize and set timetables to fit across complimentary and awaited tasks.

      What began as the preliminary plan of the new website design expanded to all various corners which go beyond design but the actual context as well, i.e new site content, and its own extension into type of content, such as product pages, company pages, support pages, blog and more.

      The mind mapping process allowed me to think bigger and organize the project a lot clearer, making sure I don’t proceed until the entire scope of the project is organized in front of me. From there, I prioritize the tasks, so I am well aware if any task is dependent on another, or is attended to in parallel to another, and where I stand in the entire process.

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        There are plenty of applications, sites, and more to get you on the mind mapping wagon. The latter may include various features such as color-coding, sharing/collaborating, linking (to notes, sites, imagery), design/style extras, and more bells and whistles to help you create the map needed to organize your thoughts, brainstorming, task breakdown and more.

        Whichever tool or mind mapping method floats your boat is great, but it is best to begin simple, realize the benefits, and only after such a process proves beneficial for you, then upgrade to all the extras.

        At the end of the day, mind mapping is aimed to help you organize thoughts, tasks, ideas, and such to get you closer to the main goal, which is getting things done. If the extra features are making your map prettier but don’r bring you closer to the goal, you haven’t yet benefited from such an amazing process.

        I found myself going back to Coggle, as it is very easy to use, the free offering would be sufficient for most, and collaboration is available to allow your team to expand. Still, a regular piece of paper offline always does the trick, granting your pen the freedom it deserves.

        The Power of Mind Mapping

        There are so many different tools, methods, processes, and more which individuals can use when attempting to organize their thoughts or brainstorm toward a new project. I find that mind-mapping is a very simple process to follow, and is rather natural to use and expand upon.

        Its practice helps the individual get the big picture visually and clearly without too much effort. Its flexibility makes it easy to grow, so we’re allowing ideas to flow while maintaining a singular focus which stares at you from the beginning to the end.

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        As always, adapting to a new tool or process isn’t an easy thing; you may realize the benefit but feel it is time-consuming and you could have already been submerged in the project, or you’re unable to clarify which is a category or a task, and more.

        I had some difficulties when I began to adapt to a freehand style and draw a diagram, rather than listing an outline on my computer. But as it clarified the project, organized my thoughts and tasks, as well as helped me avoid missing any crucial steps along the way, I was hooked.

        Since I began, I also realized that I am ending up getting more done, as every project is clear, all tasks listed, and I can better maneuvre through items and multi-tasks effectively (not just for the sake of multi-tasking).[3]

        I can take more upon myself, and while at it, complete things towards my goals and targets in a more effective and efficient way.

        Reference

        More by this author

        Eran Abramson

        Marketing at Knowmail

        Productivity Lessons from the Giants: Zuckerberg, Gates, Nadella, and Buffett The Power of Mind Map: Get More Things Done & Make Creativity Easy

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        Last Updated on September 18, 2019

        15 Best Organizing Tips For Office Organization and Getting More Done

        15 Best Organizing Tips For Office Organization and Getting More Done

        You may think that you don’t have time for office organization, but if you really knew how much time that disorganization cost you, you’d reconsider.

        Rearranging and moving piles occasionally doesn’t count. Neither does clearing off your desk, if you swipe the mess into a bin, or a desk drawer.

        A relatively neat and orderly office space clears the way for higher productivity and less wasted time.

        Organizing your office doesn’t have to take days, it can be done a little at a time. In fact, maintaining an organized office is much more effective if you treat it like an on-going project, instead of a massive assault.

        So, if you’re ready to get started, the following organizing tips will help you transform your office into an efficient workspace.

        1. Purge Your Office

        De-clutter, empty, shred, get rid of everything that you don’t need or want. Look around. What haven’t you used in a while?

        Take one area at a time. If it doesn’t work, send it out for repair or toss it. If you haven’t used it in months and can’t think of when you’ll actually need it, out it goes. This goes for furniture, equipment, supplies, etc.

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        Don’t forget about knick-knacks, plants (real or artificial), and decorations – if they’re covered with dust and make your office look shabby, they’re fair game.

        2. Gather and Redistribute

        Gather up every item that isn’t where it belongs and put it where it does.

        3. Establish Work “Zones”

        Decide what type of activity happens in each area of your office. You’ll probably have a main workspace (most likely your desk,) a reference area (filing cabinet, shelves, binders,) and a supply area (closet, shelves or drawers.)

        Place the appropriate equipment and supplies are located in the proper area as much as possible.

        4. Close Proximity

        Position the equipment and supplies that you use most within reach. Things that you rarely use can be stored or put away.

        5. Get a Good Labeler

        Choose a label maker that’s simple to use. Take the time to label shelves, bins, baskets drawers. Not only will it remind you where things go, but it will also help others who may have a need to find, use, or put away anything in your workspace.

        6. Revise Your Filing System

        As we move fully into the digital age, the need to store paper files has decreased.

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        What can your store digitally? Are you duplicating files? You may be able to eliminate some of the files and folders you’ve used in the past. If you’re storing files on your computer, make sure you are doing regular back-ups.

        Here’re some storage ideas for creating a smooth filing system:

        • Create a meeting folder – Put all “items to be discussed” in there along with items that need to be handed off, reports that need to be given, etc. It’ll help you be prepared for meetings and save you stress in the even that a meeting is moved up.
        • Create a WOR folder – So much of our messy papers are things that are on hold until someone else responds or acts. Corral them in a WOR (Waiting on Response) folder. Check it every few days for outstanding actions you may need to follow-up on.
        • Storage boxes – Use inexpensive storage boxes to keep archived files and get them out of your current file space.
        • Magazine boxes – Use magazine boxes or binders to store magazines and catalogs you really want to store. Please make sure you really need them for reference or research, otherwise recycle them, or give away.
        • Reading folder – Designate a file for print articles and documents you want to read that aren’t urgent.
        • Archive files – When a project is complete, put all of the materials together and file them away. Keep your “working folders” for projects in progress.
        • File weekly – Don’t let your filing pile up. Put your papers in a “To File” folder and file everything once a week.

        Learn more tips on organizing your files here: How to Organize Your Files for Better Productivity

        7. Clear off Your Desk

        Remove everything, clean it thoroughly and put back only those items that are essential for daily use.

        If you have difficulty declutter stuff, this Declutter Formula will help you throw away stuff without regretting later.

        8. Organize your Desktop

        Now that you’ve streamlined your desktop, it’s a good idea to organize it.

        Use desktop organizers or containers to organize the items on your desk. Use trays for papers, containers for smaller items.

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        Don’t forget your computer desktop! Make sure the files or images are all in organized folders. I’d recommend you clear your computer desktop everyday before you leave work.

        9. Organize Your Drawers

        Put items used together in the same drawer space, stamps with envelopes, sticky pads with notepads, etc.

        Use drawer organizers for little items – paper clips, tacks, etc. Use a separate drawer for personal items.

        10. Separate Inboxes

        If you work regularly with other people, create a folder, tray, or inbox for each.

        11. Clear Your Piles

        Hopefully with your new organized office, you won’t create piles of paper anymore, but you still have to sort through the old ones.

        Go through the pile (a little at a time if necessary) and put it in the appropriate place or dump it.

        12. Sort Mails

        Don’t just stick mail in a pile to be sorted or rifle through and take out the pieces you need right now. Sort it as soon as you get it – To act, To read, To file, To delegate or hand off. .

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        13. Assign Discard Dates

        You don’t need to keep every piece of paper indefinitely. Mark on files or documents when they can be tossed or shredded.

        Some legal or financial documents must be kept for specified length of time. Make sure you know what those requirements are.

        14. Filter Your Emails

        Some emails are important to read, others are just not that important.

        When you use the filter system to label different types of emails, you know their priority and which to reply first.

        Take a look at these tips to achieve inbox zero: The Ultimate Way to get to Inbox Zero

        15. Straighten Your Desk

        At the end of the day, do a quick straighten, so you have a clean start the next day.

        Bottom Line

        Use one tip or try them all. The amount of effort you put into creating and maintaining an efficient work area will pay off in a big way.

        Instead of spending time looking for things and shuffling piles, you’ll be able to spend your time…well…working and you’ll enjoy being clutter free!

        More Organizing Hacks

        Featured photo credit: Alesia Kazantceva via unsplash.com

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