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Do you ever associate a heaviness with a moment or a person or a project? What do you do to suspend the weight? I find Aldous Huxley’s words profoundly useful in helping me to be less serious.

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How did I finally start my capsule wardrobe?

  • I got inspired by others.
  • I procrastinated.
  • I dared to be someone.

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Tony Buzan wrote many books on mind mapping–an effective, non-linear technique to dump, and then organize your ideas.

Following are guidelines for creating one:

  1. Begin with your central idea in the middle of a page
  2. Dump all your ideas onto the map without judgment
  3. Use lines to make associations as/if they emerge
  4. Work quickly
  5. Get playful with color, images, turning the page landscape
  6. Once finished, organize using color, numbers, arrows, etc.

    Mind Map

    Three personal productivity Chicago coaching clients of mine have turned to mind mapping of late to increase their output. Following are tales on how they use mind maps to be more productive.


    If you produce well once you get going, but you have a tough time starting (a.k.a. procrastinate), then using a mind map as your starting point might just eliminate a barrier.

    For example, let’s say you’re chairing a conference that is six months away. Rather than wait until the last minute to start producing, let the assignment of the conference be a trigger for creating a mind map on the project. Map out all the different mini projects within the massive one. All of the people who need to be involved. All the of the checkpoints to make the project a success. Then organize the information. Use numbers to suggest an order for completion. Use dates to begin scheduling deadlines.

    Using mind maps for starting typically results in feeling better on two fronts: seeing how much you already know, and breaking something big into smaller parts.


    If you think best when you’re producing the work yourself, then using a mind map to think through an assignment will put you in a better position to delegate.

    For instance, let’s say you want to delegate the creation of a presentation, but you’re unsure of your vision. Rather than do the work yourself, let the thought of delegation be a trigger for creating a mind map. Diagram the primary and secondary messages you want to communicate. The different audience members and their expectations. The definition of a successful outcome. Then organize the information using color, numbers, etc.

    Deploying mind maps for delegating allows not only for reduction in workload, but also for opportunities for others to grow by doing.


    If you’ve struggled with linear-based task tracking systems, then using a mind map to track tasks might be the answer.

    As an illustration, you might track on an ongoing basis all your tasks in a mind map. Rather than try to track all your tasks in your head, let the thought of a new task be the trigger for adding to your map. Map assignments by client. List all the things you’ll complete “someday.” While likely over time the map will feel fundamentally organized, the starburst and colorful nature may appeal to you more than a boring list of to dos.

    Using mind maps for tracking is more fun than a paper planner, so it can deliver an increased chance for sustained change.

    Whether you use paper and pen or go electronic, mind mapping may be just the answer to free up your personal productivity.

    In what instances do you use mind maps?

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