When it comes to organising, the most common approach is to use a to-do list and organise as you go along. This approach starts from a list (usually sorted by date or order of activity) and gradually adds sub-categories and so on. If you are cringing at the sound of ‘categories’ and use thereof, you may have experienced problems with that approach in the past. Any old project could have gone wrong because this approach wasn’t the one that works for you.
If you are a creative spirit, use mind maps instead of lists: they correspond much better to the way your mind works. Mind maps are not lists! They are diagrams that gradually build around the central idea, building organically around your concept and then branching out as needed to incorporate ideas related to those concepts – and they sometimes even reconnect at a lower level when a keyword relates to several higher levels.
Mind maps do pretty much the same thing you would do with a list, but their nature makes them more flexible: if you have no more space to fill in more ideas, you simply expand sideways and keep the integrity of your thought process with the same old connecting lines you would otherwise be using in a drawing. The ‘artsy’ approach and general organic feel leads to random connections between items that would not be as likely in a list where things are organised by execution moment rather than general thought process.
Lists work well when it comes to organise HOW things are going to be done, where mind maps are better at finding out WHAT needs to be done and how things connect to each other. That thought highlights why they both have their usefulness: the more technical/structure-oriented person would probably go with a list as they are starting their thought process from the expected outcome, where a mind map is more useful where it comes to becoming aware of links and creating a thought flow that leads to better understanding of the matter at hand.
So how do you do a mind map? I have taken my approach from Wikipedia and it seems to work for me generally:
Next time you need to clear your mind and find your way through a maze of bits of information and things that need doing in connection with a particular project, give this a go and see how it works for you. You may just be better off using this method than the same old approach using a list. Or not.
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Hi, my name is Tilo Flache. My current mission: help my clients declutter mind and space.
This blog contains pointers for your journey towards a happier living experience.