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Last Updated on August 16, 2017

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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        How to Fight Information Overload

        How to Fight Information Overload

        Information overload is a creature that has been growing on the Internet’s back since its beginnings. The bigger the Internet gets, the more information there is. The more quality information we see, the more we want to consume it. The more we want to consume it, the more overloaded we feel.

        This has to stop somewhere. And it can.

        As the year comes to a close, there’s no time like the present to make the overloading stop.

        What you need to do is focus on these 4 steps:

        1. Set your goals.
        2. Decide whether you really need the information.
        3. Consume only the minimal effective dose.
        4. Don’t procrastinate by consuming too much information.

        But before I explain exactly what I mean, let’s discuss information overload in general.

        The Nature of the Problem

        The sole fact that there’s more and more information published online every single day is not the actual problem. Only the quality information becomes the problem. This sounds kind of strange…but bear with me.

        When we see some half-baked blog post we don’t even consider reading it, we just skip to the next thing. But when we see something truly interesting — maybe even epic — we want to consume it. We even feel like we have to consume it. And that’s the real problem.

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        No matter what topic we’re interested in, there are always hundreds of quality blogs publishing entries every single day (or every other day). Not to mention all the forums, message boards, social news sites, and so on. The amount of epic content on the Internet these days is so big that it’s virtually impossible for us to digest it all. But we try anyway.

        That’s when we feel overloaded. If you’re not careful, one day you’ll find yourself reading the 15th blog post in a row on some nice WordPress tweaking techniques because you feel that for some reason, “you need to know this.”

        Information overload is a plague. There’s no vaccine, there’s no cure. The only thing you have is self-control. Luckily, you’re not on your own. There are some tips you can follow to protect yourself from information overload and, ultimately, fight it. But first…

        Why information overload is bad

        It stops you from taking action. That’s the biggest problem here. When you try to consume more and more information every day, you start to notice that even though you’ve been reading tons of articles, watching tons of videos and listening to tons of podcasts, the stream of incoming information seems to be infinite.

        Therefore, you convince yourself that you need to be on a constant lookout for new information if you want to be able to accomplish anything in your life, work and/or passion. The final result is that you are consuming way too much information, and taking way too little action because you don’t have enough time for it.

        The belief that you need to be on this constant lookout for information is just not true.

        You don’t need every piece of advice possible to live your life, do your work, or enjoy your passion.

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        So how to recognize the portion of information that you really need? Start with your goals.

        1. Set your goals

        If you don’t have your goals put in place you’ll be just running around grabbing every possible advice and thinking that it’s “just what you’ve been looking for.”

        Setting goals is a much more profound task than just a way to get rid of information overload. Now by “goals” I don’t mean things like “get rich, have kids, and live a good life”. I mean something much more within your immediate grasp. Something that can be achieved in the near future — like within a month (or a year) at most.

        Basically, something that you want to attract to your life, and you already have some plan on how you’re going to make it happen. So no hopes and dreams, just actionable, precise goals.

        Then once you have your goals, they become a set of strategies and tactics you need to act upon.

        2. What to do when facing new information

        Once you have your goals, plans, strategies and tasks you can use them to decide what information is really crucial.

        First of all, if the information you’re about to read has nothing to do with your current goals and plans then skip it. You don’t need it.

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        If it does then it’s time for another question. Will you be able to put this information into action immediately? Does it have the potential to maybe alter your nearest actions/tasks? Or is it so incredible that you absolutely need to take action on it right away? If the information is not actionable in a day or two (!) then skip it. (You’ll forget about it anyway.)

        And that’s basically it. Digest only what can be used immediately. If you have a task that you need to do, consume only the information necessary for getting this one task done, nothing more.

        You need to be focused in order to have clear judgment, and be able to decide whether some piece of information is mandatory or redundant. Self-control comes handy too … it’s quite easy to convince yourself that you really need something just because of poor self-control. Try to fight this temptation, and be as ruthless about it as possible – if the information is not matching your goals and plans, and you can’t take action on it in the near future then SKIP IT.

        3. Minimal Effective Dose

        There’s a thing called the MED – Minimal Effective Dose. I was first introduced to this idea by Tim Ferriss. In his book The 4-Hour Body,Tim illustrates the minimal effective dose by talking about medical drugs. Everybody knows that every pill has a MED, and after that specific dose no other positive effects occur, only some negative side effects if you overdose big.

        Consuming information is somewhat similar. You need just a precise amount of it to help you to achieve your goals and put your plans into life. Everything more than that amount won’t improve your results any further. And if you try to consume too much of it, it will eventually stop you from taking any action altogether.

        4. Don’t procrastinate by consuming more information

        Probably one of the most common causes of consuming ridiculous amounts of information is the need to procrastinate. By reading yet another article we often feel that we are indeed working, and that we’re doing something good – we’re learning, which in result will make us a more complete and educated person.

        This is just self-deception. The truth is we’re simply procrastinating. We don’t feel like doing what really needs to be done – the important stuff – so instead we find something else, and convince ourselves that “that thing” is equally important. Which is just not true.

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        Don’t consume information just for the sake of it. It gets you nowhere.

        In Closing

        As you can see, information overload can be a real problem and it can have a sever impact on your productivity and overall performance. I know I have had my share of problems with it (and probably still have from time to time). But creating this simple set of rules helps me to fight it, and to keep my lizard brain from taking over. I hope it helps you too, especially as we head into a new year with a new chance at setting ourselves up for success.

        Feel free to shoot me a comment below and share your own story of fighting information overload. What are you doing to keep it from sabotaging your life?

        (Photo credit: Businessman with a Lot of Discarded Paper via Shutterstock)

        Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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