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

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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 9, 2021

        10 Best Productivity Planners To Get More Done in 2021

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        10 Best Productivity Planners To Get More Done in 2021

        Productivity planners and journals are tools of a trade. There’s an art to productivity. Just like art is very personal to the artist, productivity is very personal to the person. What works for you may not work for me. This is an important distinction if you really want get more done in less time.

        Too many of us dabble in productivity hacks only to move on to the next tool or trend when it didn’t workout for us, missing the lesson of what worked and didn’t work about that tool or trend.

        We put the tool on a pedestal and miss the art. It’s worshipping the paint brush rather than the process and act of painting. We miss the art of our own productivity when the tool overshadows the treasure.

        As an artist, you have many brushes to choose from. You’re looking for a brush that feels best in your hand. You want a brush that doesn’t distract you from your art but partners with you to create the many things you see in your mind to create. Finding a brush like this may take some experimenting, but when you understand that the role of the brush is to bring life to your vision, it’s easier to find the right brush.

        Planners are the same way. You want a productivity journal that supports you in the creation of your vision, not one that bogs you down or steals your energy.

        Let’s dive into the 10 best productivity planners and journals to help you get more done in less time.

        1. The One Thing Planner

        The NY Times best selling book, The One Thing, just released their new planner. If you loved this book, you’ll love this planner.

        As the founder of the world’s largest real estate company Keller Williams Realty, Gary Keller, has mastered the art of focus. The One Thing planner has its roots in industry changing productivity. If you’re out to put a dent in the universe, this may be the planner for you.

        Get the planner here!

        2. The Full Life Planner

        The Full Life Planner is Lifehacks’ ultimate planning system to get results across all your core life aspects including work, health and relationships. This smart planner is 15 years of Lifehack’s best practices and proven success formulas by top performers.

        With the Full Life Planner, you can align your actions to long term milestones every day, week, and month consistently. This will help you to get more done and achieve your goals.

        Get the planner here!

        3. The Freedom Journal

        Creator of one of the most prolific podcasts ever, Entrepreneur on Fire, John Lee Dumas released his productivity journal in 2016. This hard-cover journal focuses on accomplishing SMART goals in 100 days.

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        From their site:

        “The Freedom Journal is an accountability partner that won’t let you fail. John Lee Dumas has interviewed over 2000 successful Entrepreneurs and has created a unique step-by-step process that will guide you in SETTING and ACCOMPLISHING your #1 goal in 100 days.”

        Get the planner here!

        4. Full Focus Planner

        Michael Hyatt, author of Platform and host of the podcast “This is Your Life”, also has his own planner called the Full Focus Planner.

        From the site:

        “Built for a 90-day achievement cycle, the Full Focus Planner® gives you a quarter of a year’s content so you aren’t overwhelmed by planning (and tracking) 12 months at a time.”

        This productivity planner includes a place for annual goals, a monthly calendar, quarterly planning, the ideal week, daily pages, a place for rituals, weekly preview and quarterly previews. It also comes with a Quickstart lessons to help you master the use of the planner.

        Get the planner here!

        5. Passion Planner

        They call themselves the #pashfam and think of their planner as a “paper life coach”. Their formats include dated, academic and undated in hardbound journals with assorted colors. With over 600,000 users they have a track record for effective planners.

        From the site:

        “An appointment calendar, goal setting guide, journal, sketchbook, gratitude log & personal and work to-do lists all in one notebook.”

        They have a get-one give-one program. For every Passion Planner that is bought they will donate one to a student or someone in need.

        They also provide free PDF downloads of their planners. This is a great way to test drive if their planner is right for you.

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        Get the planner here!

        6. Desire Map Planners

        If you’re looking for a more spiritually oriented planner, Danielle LaPorte, author of The Desire Map, created the Desire Map Planners. With Daily planners, Weekly planners and Undated planners you can find the right fit for you.

        Behind this planner is the Desire Map Planner Program including 3 workbooks that not only support you in using the planners but guide you in your thought process about your life and intentions you’re using the planner to help you fulfill.

        Get the planner here!

        7. Franklin Covey Planners

        The grandfather of all planners, Franklin Covey, has the most options when it comes to layouts, binders, and accessories. With over 30 years in the productivity planner business, they not only provide a ton of planner layouts, they also have been teaching productivity and planning from the beginning.

        From the site:

        “Achieve what matters most with innovative, high quality planners and binders tailored to your personal style. Our paper planning system guides you to identify values, create successful habits, and track and achieve your goals.”

        Get the planner here!

        8. Productivity Planner

        From the makers of the best selling journal backed by Tim Ferriss, “The Five Minute Journal”, comes the Productivity Planner.

        Combining the Ivy Lee method which made Charles Schwab millions with the Pomodoro Technique to stay focused in the moment, the Productivity Planner is both intelligent and effective.

        It allows for six months of planning, 5-day daily pages, weekly planning and weekly review, a prioritized task list, Pomodoro time tracking, and extra space for notes.

        From the site:

        “Do you often find yourself busy, while more important tasks get procrastinated on? The Productivity Planner helps you prioritize and accomplish the vital few tasks that make your day satisfying. Quality over quantity. Combined with the Pomodoro Technique to help you avoid distractions, the Productivity Planner assists you to get better work done in less time.”

        Get the planner here!

        9. Self Journal

        Endorsed by Daymond John of Shark Tank, the Self Journal takes a 13 week approach and combines Monthly, Weekly and Daily planning to help you stay focused on the things that really matter.

        Self Journal includes additional tools to help you produce with their Weekly Action Pad, Project Action Pad, the Sidekick pocket journal to capture your ideas on the go and their SmartMarks bookmarks that act as a notepad while you’re reading.

        Get the planner here!

        10. Google Calendar

        You may already use Google Calendar for appointments, but with a couple tweaks you can use it as a productivity planner.

        Productivity assumes we have time to do the work we intend to do. So blocking time on your Google Calendar and designating it as “busy” will prevent others from filling up those spaces on your calendar. Actually using those blocks of time as you intended is up to you.

        If you use a booking tool like Schedule Once or Calendly, you can integrate it with your Google Calendar. For maximum productivity and rhythm, I recommend creating a consistent “available” block of time each day for these kinds of appointments.

        Google Calendar is free, web based and to the point. If you’re a bottom line person and easily hold your priorities in your head, this may be a good solution for you.

        Get the planner here!

        Bonus Advice: Integrate the 4 Building Blocks of Productivity

        Just as important to productivity planners as the tool are the principles that we create inside of. There are 4 building blocks of productivity, that when embraced, accelerate your energy and results.

        The four building blocks of productivity are desire, strategy, focus and rhythm. When you get these right, having a productivity planner or journal provides the structure to keep you on track.

        Block #1: Desire

        Somehow in the pursuit of all our goals, we accumulate ideas and To-Do’s we’re not actually passionate about and don’t really want to pursue. They sneak their way in and steal our focus from the things that really matter.

        Underneath powerful productivity is desire. Not many little desires, but the overarching mother of desires. The desire you feel in your gut, the desire that comes from your soul, not your logic, is what you need to tap into if you want to level up your productivity.

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        A productivity planner is just a distraction if you’re not clear on what it’s all for. With desire, however, your productivity planner provides the guide rails to accomplish your intentions.

        Block #2: Strategy

        Once you’re clear on your overarching desire, you need to organize your steps to get there. Let’s call this “strategy”. Strategy is like assembling a jigsaw puzzle. You must first turn over all the pieces to see patterns, colors, connections and find borders.

        In business and life, we often start trying to put our “puzzle” together without turning over all the pieces. We put many items on our To-Do lists and clog our planners with things that aren’t important to the bigger picture of our puzzle.

        Strategy is about taking the time to brain dump all the things in your head related to your goal and then looking for patterns and priorities. As you turn over these puzzle pieces, you’ll begin to see the more important tasks that take care of the less important tasks or make the less important tasks irrelevant.

        In the best selling book, The One Thing, the focusing question they teach is:

        “What’s the One thing I can do, such that by doing it, everything else is easier or unnecessary?”

        This is the heart of strategy and organizing what hits your planner and what doesn’t.

        Block #3: Focus

        With your priorities identified, now you can focus on the One Thing that makes everything else easier or unnecessary. This is where your productivity planners and journals help you hold the line.

        Because you’ve already turned over the puzzle pieces, you aren’t distracted by new shiny objects. If new ideas come along, and they will, you will better see how and where they fit in the big picture of your desire and strategy, allowing you to go back and focus on your One Thing.

        Block #4: Rhythm

        The final building block of productivity is rhythm. There is a rhythm in life and work that works best for you. When you find this rhythm, time stands still, productivity is easy and your experience of work is joyful.

        Some call this flow. As you hone your self-awareness about your ideal rhythm you will find yourself riding flow more often and owning your productivity.

        Without these four building blocks of productivity, you’re like a painter with a paintbrush and no idea how to use it to create what’s in your heart to create. But harness these four building blocks and find yourself getting more done in less time.

        The Bottom Line

        Your life is your art. Everyday you have a chance to create something amazing. By understanding and using the four building blocks of productivity, you will set yourself up for success no matter which planner, or “paintbrush”, you choose to use.

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        As you experiment with different planners you will narrow which one is best for you and accelerate your path to putting a dent in the universe.

        More Tools to Boost Your Productivity

        Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

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