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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 March 21, 2019

        11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

        11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

        Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

        You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

        But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

        To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

        It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

        “What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

        The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

        In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

        Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

        1. Start Small

        The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

        Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

        Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

        Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

        Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

        Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

        It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

        Do less today to do more in a year.

        2. Stay Small

        There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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        But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

        If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

        When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

        I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

        Why?

        Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

        The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

        Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

        3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

        No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

        There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

        What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

        Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

        This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

        This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

        4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

        When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

        There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

        Peter Drucker said,

        “What you track is what you do.”

        So track it to do it — it really helps.

        But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

        5. Measure Once, Do Twice

        Peter Drucker also said,

        “What you measure is what you improve.”

        So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

        For reading, it’s 20 pages.
        For writing, it’s 500 words.
        For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
        For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

        Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

        6. All Days Make a Difference

        Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

        Will two? They won’t.

        Will three? They won’t.

        Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

        What happened? Which one made you fit?

        The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

        No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

        7. They Are Never Fully Automated

        Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

        But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

        What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

        It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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        The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

        It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

        It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

        8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

        Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

        Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

        When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

        The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

        Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

        9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

        The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

        Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

        You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

        But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

        So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

        If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

        This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

        The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

        Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

        10. Punish Yourself

        Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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        I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

        It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

        You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

        No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

        The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

        But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

        11. Reward Yourself

        When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

        Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

        The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

        After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

        If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

        Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

        If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

        In the End, It Matters

        What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

        When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

        And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

        “Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

        Keep going.

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        More Resources to Help You Build Habits

        Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

        Reference

        [1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
        [2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
        [3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
        [4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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