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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 January 2, 2019

        Better Alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions to Reduce Your Stress

        Better Alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions to Reduce Your Stress

        The end of the year is the time when everyone tries to give you advice on how to live healthier, look better, and earn more money.

        It’s understandable if you find yourself lost among all the tips and opinions. Sometimes you no longer know what you truly want to achieve next year – and what’s just imposed by society.

        To help you out, we’ve made this article about the things you should remove from your new year’s resolution list – instead of adding to it – to make your daily life more harmonious and peaceful.

        So just make sure you cross these off your New Year’s to-do list – your body, mind and soul will be thankful.

        1. Stop Buying Meaningless Gifts

        We all know the sense of obligation – when we have to buy a gift for an event or celebration that’s already tomorrow, but we still have no idea of what to give.

        Take these tips close to heart for all upcoming holidays, including birthdays, weddings, graduations, etc.:

        Stop focusing on the material objects

        Instead of focusing on what material object to give, think about the emotion you want to evoke[1] in the gift recipient, and then pick a symbolic gift that can support or represent that emotion. For example, you can gift coziness by presenting a “comfort set” with warm socks, tea, candles, etc. Or give motivation by presenting a beautiful planner or notebook.

        Plan gifts in advance

        We know this is easier said than done. But if you try to plan which gifts you’ll need in the upcoming months (try making a list three or four times a year), ideas will more likely come to mind and you’ll avoid that last-minute shopping. Not to mention, you’ll be able to keep an eye on sales to get the best prices.

        Suggest a better way

        If you’re tired of exchanging gifts for birthdays and holidays, initiate a different approach. For example, draw names among family members and agree that each one only buys a present to that one person they got. Alternatively, you can agree not to share gifts among adults, and only give presents to kids of the family. Or, ask friends to donate to charity instead of buying a gift for you.

        Go for common experiences instead of exchanging gifts

        You can agree (with your partner or the extended family) to go on a common trip, dinner or another activity, instead of spending money on gifts.

        Sometimes you’ll have to be the one who initiates breaking the rules that have been accepted in the family for years. But if you suspect that you’re not the only one in the group who’s tired of gift-hunting, you’ll surely find support for your suggestions.

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        2. Don’t Exaggerate with Diets and Fitness Resolutions

        It’s no secret that TV shows, article headlines, and ads (not to mention our healthy diet-obsessed friends) make us feel like we need to look better, slimmer and younger than we actually are. But going on yet another diet or starting a fitness plan with the wrong motivation rarely leads to great results.

        If you are like many people, you have probably signed up for an annual gym membership at least once in your life – only to drop it one month later.

        How do you balance a good resolution for a healthier life without pushing yourself into commitments that won’t last?

        Here’s what you can do:

        Set a healthier pattern

        For example, do meat-free Mondays or reduce meat consumption to three days per week (less saturated fat for you and better for the environment). Or choose to eat only healthy food at least three days a week or only on weekdays (e.g. make sure your meals contain vegetables, fruits, whole grains, dairy products, and protein). This way you’ll already have a healthier diet while still being able to treat yourself with a snack on weekends or parties.

        Get a fitness watch

        Fitness watches like Fitbit or MiBand are tiny accessories that will count your steps, calories burnt and will serve as an excellent motivator to move – or to take the stairs instead of the elevator.

        Find a physical activity that you enjoy

        Even if you are not that fond of doing sports, you can definitely find an activity that you’d do with pleasure. Think about what you’d like – from taking up Nordic walking to pilates or even exercising at home.

        Try intermittent fasting

        This is an alternating cycles of fasting and eating. For example, stop eating at 8 pm and restart not sooner than 12 hours later. This approach has been proven to have numerous health benefits, in addition to weight loss.

        Skip cabs or driving to work and opt for cycling or walking instead

        You’ll burn calories, breathe some fresh air, and save money – win-win!

        3. Put a Cap on Your Daily To-Do List

        In today’s busy world, planning your day in a stress-free way is actually an art in itself. It’s natural to want to be a loving parent, a diligent employee, an active member of the local community and probably several other individual roles.

        But playing all these roles requires energy and meticulous planning. How not to lose yourself amidst all the appointments and responsibilities? And – most importantly – how to still find time for relaxing and recharging yourself?

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        These daily planning tips will help you have more stress-free days:

        Leave bigger intervals between meetings

        If you schedule too many appointments or chores in a day, you’ll probably end up late at some point, and as a result – more stressed. There are many different reasons why people are late, but poor planning is a major factor too.

        Plan time to relax

        As weird as it may sound, you should try and schedule your resting time. For example, if you only have one free evening this week, and a friend tries to squeeze in a meeting, feel free to say no. Don’t feel obliged to specify the reason for your refusal, just say that you are busy.

        Try to be a little pessimistic

        We’re often packed with plans or running late for errands because we tend to be overly optimistic – about the traffic, the time it takes to do things, etc. Instead, try an opposite tactic — assume you’ll hit traffic or the meeting will take longer.

        Try waking up earlier

        Sometimes even waking up 30 minutes earlier can give you the much-needed head start for several errands of the day. But remember to get enough sleep every night, even if it means going to bed earlier.

        Plan your day the day before

        Chances are your day will be much better organized if you pack a lunch and lay out an outfit before going to bed.

        Designate a time for checking emails and social messages

        If you start checking your messages between appointments, you risk getting lost in a sea of messages that need replies. Designate a time for this activity or do it in case you arrived early to a meeting.

        4. Let Go of Unhealthy and Time-Consuming Habits

        If there’s one thing we should get rid of in the new year, it’s the habits that steal our time, provide instant gratification but don’t offer any value in the long term. Or even worse, leave a negative impact on our health.

        Here are some common (and pointless) habits along with tips on how to get rid of them:

        Binge-watching TV series

        Even if most online television platforms offer you lists of “Best TV Shows to Binge Watch”, being addicted to series is a major time-waster.

        You can manage this addiction in several ways, for example, watch one episode per day (or a few per week) as a reward, only after you’ve finished an assignment or done a house chore. Or try replacing this habit with exercise or reading a book – this will be hard at first but should stick after a few weeks. You can also try to track how much time you spend on TV or movies – seeing how much of your life you are wasting might urge you to do something about it.

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        Running on coffee

        Being a coffee addict is kind of a stylish addiction nowadays, but it’s not that innocent as it may initially seem. Besides addiction being a problem in itself, drinking too much coffee (more than 500-600 mg of caffeine a day) may lead to nervousness, insomnia, an upset stomach, a fast heartbeat, and even muscle tremors.[2]

        As a solution, try switching to tea or edible coffee – a more sustainable, healthy, and productivity-enhancing alternative. For example, Coffee Pixels are solid coffee bars that generate a more even energy kick throughout the day without the coffee-induced abstinence and dehydration.

        Procrastination

        Fighting procrastination requires some serious willpower. If it is a problem in your daily life or work, try ”eating the frog” in the morning – get over your biggest or hardest tasks first, then tackle everything else.

        Alternatively, use time tracking software to monitor exactly how much time you waste on unproductive actions, websites or apps. Once you know exactly how much time you’re spending unproductively, try to limit your time on social media, for example to just 20 minutes per day.

        If nothing else works, try bribing yourself — promise yourself to do something fun or pleasant when you finish your assignment.

        Whichever habit you want to give up, consider using some habits building tools to make a contract with yourself and reward yourself for milestones achieved.

        5. Stop over-consuming

        We live in the age of consumerism – huge manufacturers with their promise of a comfortable life on the one hand, and growing environmental threats – that are the direct result of our modern lifestyle – on the other hand. There’s only one solution – try to consume less whenever and wherever you can.

        Before making additional purchases, ask yourself these questions:

        • Do I really need it? Did I need it yesterday?
        • Can’t I buy it used or borrow it from friends?
        • Can I rent it?
        • Can I make it myself?
        • Am I buying the most sustainable version of this product?

        For example, check if the brand you chose is conscious about the environment, for example, are the products they manufacture energy efficient? Do they try to use less packaging?

        Also, if you often find yourself buying too many groceries, promise to buy only the amount that fits in one shopping bag (that you bring along). If you often forget to take your shopping bag with you, get yourself a 2-in-1 wallet with a built-in shopping bag for more eco-friendly shopping.

        6. Learn to Unplug from Your Phone

        Today’s world is crammed with information, and many people struggle to keep focus on what’s truly important. There’s just too much going on in the world – too much to read, to watch, to know, too many conversations to participate in.

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        But how to refuse the temptation to check the phone and start using social media in a controlled, not a compulsive way?

        Some tips for managing your phone-dependency:

        Spend only a limited amount of battery per day

        For example, start your day with 50% battery life, and manage your phone usage so that you’ll make it till the evening.

        Block distracting apps and notifications on your phone and computer

        Choose one-hour, two-hour or longer blocking sessions and enjoy the positive impact this will have on your mood and productivity.[3]

        Set your phone on flight mode

        When you start doing an important task that requires full focus, set your phone on flight mode so that nobody can disturb you.

        Leave your phone at home or in the office when you go for lunch

        You’ll see that the feeling of being unreachable for a moment is actually very liberating.

        The Bottom Line

        As a new year begins, we’re all excitedly looking forward to what adventures await ahead of us.

        But this year, promise yourself this:

        Instead of having a never-ending list of tasks and commitments, focus on the truly meaningful ones. And cross-out all the rest without feeling guilty.

        Less is more. Make this year count. We’re all rooting for you.

        Featured photo credit: Brooke Lark via unsplash.com

        Reference

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