Mind Maps: Restore Order to Your Messed-Up Life

mind maps

Hi everybody! Today we’re gonna talk about mind maps.

Huh?

Let’s go back a bit:

After way too much time, I’ve decided to reactivate my blog again. I’m going to try writing something in it every day… which means it’s not all gonna be deep, Pulitzer-prizewinning material. I just want to keep in touch with my friends and branch out into other trains of thought, without being particularly restricted by any particular concept. And if I can spur anyone else’s creativity, or inspire them in some way, then that’s a bonus extra.

My reason for getting back to blogging is because, for many years — and for various reasons, which I now understand — I’ve been blocked creatively. I’ve been gradually working this out over time, privately. (I’ll talk about that some other time soon.) And it’s been working. But writing regularly, to you guys & gals, is one exercise I feel is important for this process. Plus, I suspect that the information I share here could be helpful to someone else as well.

So today I’m going to write about Mind Maps.

I just discovered them, thanks to my friend Lisette, who’s a behavioral therapist. (Check out her website here.) Probably years after everyone else in the world did. But whatever. I love them.

My Brain Is Normally in a State of Chaos

One of my biggest problems is lack of organization. I’m a mess. I do “too many” things. I mean, most people just have one job… if they’re lucky to have a job at all, of course. They have a set schedule and they come home and live their “real” life.

My life is different. I am self-employed. I do different things to make a living. Different shows in different languages, for different audiences. Various educational endeavors. Fields of study. Writing. Singing. Playing the piano. Thinking up new projects. Finding new places to perform, new audiences, new opportunities.

All of this is what I need to do for a living in order to survive here. But I don’t do it. And I’m sick of it.

I don’t do it because all the things I want — and need — to do because they’ve become a horrible, tangled ball of string. A chaotic soup. Why? Because I haven’t found a way to organize it all.

I’ve been frustrated with myself. I’ve become depressed about it. I was feeling like my brain was out of control, like I couldn’t wrap my mind around everything there was to do. Organize it. Control it, instead of it controlling me. Things were getting away from me, important dates snuck up on me.

But now I’ve been experimenting with mind maps, and I’m starting to get that sense of control back. And I’m starting to feel better about everything, and about myself.

Quite simply, mind maps are visual ways to organize data. Charts, basically.

Lists Vs. Mind Maps

I always tended to write lists. But lists are linear, and go from top to bottom. Things get lost. They can get overwhelming, the longer they get. At that stage, they can even have an unmotivating effect.

Mind maps are more fun, more flexible to the mind works. More adaptable to creative inspiration. More adaptable to the way my mind works.

I’ve already made a mind map for my professional goals, a mind map for my daily routine, and a mind map for the general scope of my life, which includes both personal and professional goals.

This may sound excessive, but if you’re self-employed, your biggest enemy is time… and an open schedule. It’s way to easy to waste a looooot of valuable time doing stupid or unimportant shit. It’s almost like, the more time you have, the less you get done. I’ve noticed I get more things done in smaller increments of time, like if I have to take the metro to another part of town. I’ve written a lot of cool stories during train rides. Stuff I probably wouldn’t have written if I was at home, comfortable, with hours of time in front of me.

Bad prioritization is another one of my downfalls. I may have a list of 20 things to do. Certain things are urgent. Other things are not urgent at all. Yet all too often, I find myself attending to the non-urgent items first. Guess what? The urgent items get moved to the next day.

This is bullshit. I need help! It’s so stupid, but if years have gone by without the problem getting fixed, then I need to address that… right?

Putting Your Shit in Order Symbolically Helps in Reality

Mind maps help with this problem. Just the act of prioritizing goals and tasks, setting up hierarchies, saving the document, even printing it out and sticking it on the wall, puts everything into much sharper focus in my brain. I take it seriously. I take my life seriously. I feel better about myself, what I’ve done, and where I’m headed.

And yes, I get shit done.

One more thing: I think it would be a mistake to think that these organizational tools are only for people who have a lifestyle as chaotic and unstructured as mine. I think that no matter how your life is organized, whether you have a “straight” job or not, whether you live alone or with a partner, whether you have children or not, these maps can help you clarify your priorities and accomplish your goals.

There are many mind map sites online, for free. I use Mindomo. It works well for me. Try it out if organization seems to be a problem in your life, and get back to me by leaving a comment about how it’s worked for you.

And if you know about mind mapping and you can recommend another service, let me know in the comments below.

I hope this blog entry has been interesting and hopefully even helpful to you. Have a great day.