I love a good, original self help idea, and about a year ago Marlous from Last Days of Spring wrote a blog post about personal mind mapping that I have been a fan of ever since. You can read the original article here. If you click ‘read more’, you’ll learn why I think mind mapping is useful, how I use it and how you could use it!
A mindmap is a very well known study tool where you make a visual representation of the studied material in a concise and clear diagram of sorts. It’s useful for studying, as you learn to see the bigger picture, connect different concepts and theories to each other and to put 50-100 pages of literature into a 1-page visual summary.
But mind mapping is not just for studying. It can be a very helpful tool, providing you clarity and peace of mind, in both your professional and personal life.
In your professional life it can be useful for the following reasons.
OVERVIEW Sometimes a certain element of your job drowns out the rest. Or we lose sight of other job demands. Or the demands are so unclear and all over the place that we have no idea what to do anymore or where to start (Pro tip: Coffee). By mind mapping a certain problem, a task or even the totality of your job, you see the bigger picture again.
CLARITY Chaotic workday galore? Stress among you and your colleagues, with shared responsibilities or fuzzy task divisions? A mind map can (re)create clarity. You can figure out where which responsibility lies, who needs to do what, and whatever is next. Which brings me to my next point:
TO DO LISTS To do lists based on mind mapping are usually good ones, as they are very focused on the most important things that have the most priority. You can create an action plan or to do list based on the mind map.
NEW IDEAS Mindmapping sparks creativity like nobody’s business. Because you are putting your thoughts down on paper in a way you don’t very often do, you think differently. This is good for your creativity. Plus, in a mind map you connect different concepts, and these connections might help you think of new bright ideas.
And all of the aforementioned brilliance can also apply to your personal life!
OVERVIEW When you make a mind map like this about your life (or an area of your life), you suddenly see everything again. Everything that’s important, everything that was may be forgotten. From goals to groceries, everything can fly back into view.
CLARITY You refocus on what truly matters with this exercise. You are able to untangle conflicts of interests, different life roles that clash, or areas of your life that overwhelm others. You can see a lot of what is really happening once you start mind mapping out what’s going on with you.
TO DO LISTS And you also see more clearly what needs to happen. You can map out what tasks you need to assign yourself (or others), what steps to take.
NEW IDEAS You notice connections (or gaps?) between different parts of your life, you notice where you are lacking or when you are too full. This can spark new ideas, like realising what activities can be combined, who to contact for help or what new hobby you want to take up that could help you relax or achieve something!
I use personal mind mapping a couple of times a year, both for work as for myself.
For work, I use it for both keeping the general overview of my job, as well as for individual projects. This helps me to keep track of everything: It gives me a very visual representation of where I’m at and what still needs to happen.
Never looked better.
For my personal mind map I just start to map out the different life areas and write down the important parts of this life area, thoughts that come up and goals that I have.
To you (as you know, not me) this might not seem helpful, or even make a lot of sense. A lot of it just may look like random terms on a page in different colours.
But for me, creating this mind map really helps me regroup and refocus on what I want, what matters and what my life is about.
You don’t necessarily have to do it like this. You can do it more focused on actual thoughts the way Marlous did in her original article, or maybe choose a specific question, topic or area of your life as the starting point.
Examples of those could be:
If you’ve never done this and you’re into Creative Planning (as I like to call these types of activities*), I really recommend you give it a go.
It’s thinking outside the box, but on paper and with colours.
So it’s kind of like colouring for adults, but you know, not sad.
(Because this is a kinda sad too.)
No, I’m actually kidding. I hope this is is helpful and if it is not, go colour or whatever. Bye.
*Creative planning is a term I use for doing self help exercises like visionboards, goal setting, treasure chests and planning your Perfect Day. You look forward to the future, using your imagination and creativity in a playful and flexible way. As mentioned here.