Can’t Keep Up? Mind Map Your Life For Success
Much has been said about the virtues of planning. Whether professionally or in your personal life, we must have some sort of plan to be able to reach milestones in time. People always associate planning with business, but so few have a plan for their personal lives.
According to Michael Hyat, author of the New York Times’ bestseller Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, most people spend more time planning a one-week vacation than they spend planning their life. That’s what I call a mind-blowing statement!
There are many planning tools available, including very interesting ones like Affinity Diagrams or the Root Cause Tree Diagrams. My personal favorite, the one I used to plan the launch of a new venture and to structure my personal training plan, is Mind Maps.
WHAT IS A MIND MAP?
A mind map is a planning tool that allows the user to visually outline information. It offers the planner visibility of milestones over time. It is actively used in Project Management, Strategic Planning, and for the execution of launches of products and services over a certain span of time.
I like to use mind maps because of their simple outline that lets you put down a main idea or project, and easily lets you branch out corresponding action items for their effective execution.
What characterizes a mind map?
There are many traits of mind maps, but I consider the following four to be the main ones:
1. The main idea is located at the center of the mind map
2. Branches or tentacles radiate out from the main idea nod
3. A representative key image is included on each branch
4. All the branches compose what is called a nodal structure
My Own Mind Map Example
This past November I started a rigorous training plan with a tough goal in mind. To get my training structured, I used the virtues of mind maps to work with my coaching staff. A mind map gave us a clear idea of the stages we were to follow during training, as well as the competitions I’m scheduled to attend during the course of the year. I thought it would be a good idea to share that mind map with all of you to use as a guideline.
Many hours went into getting this mind map to this stage and although it seems like a simple model to construct, getting all the action items done is yet another thing onto itself.
The advantage of this planning tool is that is very graphic, thus it allows the users to brainstorm how each of the participants is going to execute their part. Milestones are very important in this process, especially if everything has a date of completion .
Planning the purchase of a new house? Use mind maps to set investing and savings goals that will lead you toward the purchase of your dream home by a specified date.
Planning to run a marathon? Mind maps will, as they did for me, visually layout the important aspects of your training, like nutrition and aerobic work. You can review milestones as they become due, and easily layout new ones when you and your coaches come up with them.
Looking to complete a tough project? Use mind maps to brainstorm ideas that will help in laying out the stages of the project and staff responsible for each stage. Once all ideas have been written down, organize them in nods as to get a strong idea on the next steps to take toward the successful completion of that project.
Here are a few testimonials regarding the use of Mind Maps:
“I can’t really grasp the current state of play in my business, and therefore the way ahead, until I get all my thoughts down on a Mind Map. Then I get the whole picture with the solutions staring me in the face.” – Dominic O’Brien, Eight Times World Memory Champion
“Mind Maps have provided with me with lifelong tools for planning, organizing and learning together and the self belief to constantly strive to achieve in both sporting and working environments.” – Peter Beaumont (Olympic finalist and European Marketing Director)
“Mind Mapping , more than a methodology, is a philosophy of life which leads you toward an excellent organizational culture.” – Alejandro Cristerna, President, Tecmilenio, Mexico
Available Mind Mapping Tools
There are many tools available to get your mind mapping done. User beware, some of these tools are a lot more involved than what you actually need. That being said, here are my three preferences:
XMind is a useful open source mind mapping tool for clarifying thinking, managing complex information, organizing and brainstorming. You can gather ideas and craft them in a logical structure to help identify critical information, uncover patterns, relationships, priorities and trends.
MindMeister was built to facilitate collaboration for mind mapping and brainstorming. You can collaborate in real-time, discuss changes over live chat, exchange ideas and even view the change history of a mind map. And, one of its plusses, it’s interface is very easy to use.
iMindMap is designed to be visually stimulating, with curved branches, bright colors and sharp images to help unleash your creativity.
Mind Map Your Life for Success – Conclusions
There’s no question about the usefulness of mind maps and what they represent as a tool for brainstorming, planning, increased creativity, layout ideas, structure projects, analyzing patterns, and many more. Amazingly, creating a mind map doesn’t feel like work, even though you’re accomplishing a lot. This is because they are interactive, flexible, easy to use, clear, visually driven and practical, and most importantly they are a blast to build!