The organizational chart known as a “mind map” may remind you of something you drew in elementary school, but it’s actually a powerful productivity tool when used correctly.
The British pop psychologist Tony Buzan coined the term in the ’70s for an organizational technique that is like a web of to-do lists.
You begin with a central topic like “Tasks” (to use a general example) and then branch off into subtopics like “Work, Family, Volunteer Work, and Home” spaced out evenly. Then each of these topics gets their own subtopics, a process repeated as necessary.
One of the main benefits of using a mind map is that it makes it easier to visualise all of the steps in a project, which helps you see gaps, set goals, and better manage your time throughout the week.
There are plenty of apps and online services you can use to create clean, easily managed mind maps, like Xmind, Mindjet, and MindNode. MindMeister is another great tool, and we’ll take a look at an example made using its software.
Here’s a closeup of its upper-right quarter:
As you can see, it functions as a way to combine your to-do list with your calendar and additional notes in a visual, easy to comprehend way.
Here’s a look at the entire mind map for that project:
Mind maps can be adjusted to scale, outlining an entire project or a single day.
Paul Klipp, president of Lunar Logic’s Polish branch, wrote on Quora that he uses a mind map to arrange his weekly schedule. He spent about an hour making his first one with MindMeister and has since spent 15 minutes every Monday updating it.
He explains how he structures his weekly mind map and how it helps him get things done: “Each top-level node is a project. Outcomes are linked to projects. For each outcome, there are linked tasks to accomplish it. This approach lets me focus on one project at a time, and then on one outcome for that project so that I can discover all the tasks required to arrive at the desired outcome.”
A mind map’s setup also accommodates brainstorming. A project manager can present one to his or her team and have them add branches or adjust details.
Whether you’re using it as a weekly planner or a project outline, a mind map can help you group concepts through associations, come up with new ideas, and stay organised.
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