I have always looked for hacks in how to become more productive. Reading voraciously, watching videos or listening to podcasts, I sift out ideas to become efficient and effective. One of the great tools that I came across is mind mapping. Maybe you have never heard of such a thing. This is a process to take that entire mess of tasks and dreams that is swimming around in your head and capturing it in a great net. Essentially it is organizing your brainstorming sessions and using them to empower your success. Once you have the information in your net you can organize it and get things done. Test me on this and see how productive your life becomes.
How to use mind mapping to become more productive
Step One: Brainstorming
Take out a sheet of paper and write down all of the things that you need to do. When I say all things I mean everything that you need to do or want to do in a day. What is going on inside of your head? This includes family items like changing the diaper, doing the dishes and washing clothes. Write out everything no matter how mundane or silly that you must do. Consider the projects that you want to accomplish around your house and the relationships that you want to build with your family. Don’t take much time to edit it at this point. Consider your whole person and include work and social tasks as well as mental and spiritual tasks. Just write them all out. Who do you want to be? What do you want life to be? For now you are simply brainstorming. Don’t worry if you can actually do all of these things or not. Simply get them all on paper. For those that are more artistic you can write them all over the paper, don’t worry about a straight line of tasks. For those that think more linear maybe a straight line is ok. Think through your days and weeks. What are the things that are coming up that you need to do some work to prepare for those events? Make the tasks as small as possible. But again you are brainstorming. Keep writing.
Step 2: Create Themes
All of these tasks will fit into some sort of theme. Some of the categories will include home, physical, mental, spiritual, social, work and play. For now simply consider all of the possible themes and write them on another sheet of paper. You are still brainstorming a bit so don’t edit too much yet. Break down your themes to as small a piece as you can. For example instead of work you might have a theme that pertains to a specific project. This week I have a theme of develop a conflict resolution presentation. You might breakdown home into things like maintenance, marriage or parenting. In my experience this step will also remind you of some tasks that you left off. Go ahead and put them on your other paper. Let the two documents feed one another.
Step 3: Bring it all together
Take out another sheet of paper. In the center of the paper consider the main objective theme for your week. Maybe it is to bring healing to your marriage or maybe you need to be focused on a work project. This needs to be something that is critical for your overall success. Place the other assorted themes randomly on a sheet of paper. Leave plenty of space around each theme and start plugging in tasks where they fit. Think through carefully where they go. Things like meals may fit under physical health if you have a focus this week of getting healthier. However, for this week that same meal might be under family because you want to spend time together around the dinner table. Regardless all of the tasks should be on this paper somewhere. For those who are more artistically centered you might choose to color code or draw pictures to illustrate themes or tasks.
Step 4: Make a plan
If you are like most of us you are looking at this page and realizing that there is no way that you can do all of these things. First consider how many of these things are essential to what is in the center of your paper. Which of these things must I do if I want that objective to be realized? Remember that you already said that the objective of the week was that item. Under each theme you can also set up a minor objective. Maybe you have a project at work that is your objective for the week but you also would like to spend more time with your children. Put that second objective under your parenting theme and think through those tasks. Which of those tasks are enabling you to also obtain that objective? Some of those tasks might be able to be delegated. You might want to spend more time with a specific child so delegating the dishes to a different child might help you to accomplish that goal. Do not be afraid to delegate off of that list. These things may need to get done but not necessarily by you.
Step 5: Take Action
Once you have your plan get started on that plan. This is not the time to simply sit back and enjoy the fruit of your writing on the paper or your clever pictures. You must fulfill the objective in the center of the paper. The other tasks would be nice and if you can get them done you should. However, don’t get bogged down in the lesser important items for your week. If needed, you can always make those objectives a centered objective for next week. Get started on those tasks that will help you get your main objective done.
Step 6: Review progress
At the end of the week review your progress. Hopefully you fulfilled your main objective and some of the other objectives. How did you do? What got done? What did you decide simply didn’t matter? Review and analyze your week. Use that as a start for creating your mind map for the next week.
This process can be used for preparing a speech or other presentation. In the center I will put down the main theme. This is something that I must get across to the audience. Everything else on the paper are supporting ideas or concepts or illustrations. As the presentation continues I can pick and choose from those other items to back up the point in the center of the page. I will keep coming back to that central point.
Mind mapping is essentially organizing your brainstorming sessions and can be done as a group or as an individual. By focusing your random thoughts you can be successful and productive every day. In the beginning it will take much more time than it will later on as you become more practiced so keep at it until you master the process.