Mind Mapping for Getting Things Done
There is a problem for me with todo lists. The time it takes from creating one and executing on it is often sufficient to make it stale and demotivating. No, not stale because I don’t need to do those things… stale because how I think about it has changed, and the tasks, their approaches, and even whole projects are no longer actionable in my mind.
It’s a lot like trying to describe a move in a basketball game with actionable items:
– dribble the ball to the other side
– get around the defenders
– pick up the ball and aim at the basket
– jump high and shoot
– retrieve the ball and pass to a teammate
It’s all accurate and on point… but completely demotivating when you just received a pass, are standing behind the basket, and the opportunity came to execute in a different way. The list is telling you to follow the well-thought-out steps, and they are still right and they will still accomplish what you are after, but they are completely uninspired, out of touch, and don’t make sense under the circumstances.
For many years I have struggled with a variety of productivity systems, starting all the way back with Franklin Covey, later GTD tools, Trello, Asana, paper and pencil, pure reminders. It all kind of sort of works, and not really. Inevitably, I have to delete everything I have and start over in order to make sense of any of it. Organize and find everything the way you think. Organize and find everything the
I think I found something that might just be a game changer. A few weeks ago I began using TheBrain – a mind mapping software that tries to make it easy to create an interconnected graph accessible in many different ways, sort of like thoughts in the brain. “Organize and find everything the way you think” – they claim.. and they are kind of right.
So first of all, we rarely need a real todo list. Right, that’s where the basketball analogy gets silly – who looks at that while in the midst of a game? Well… what if your whole life feels like a basketball court with complex rules and fourteen balls to keep track of? That’s me. What I need is to organize my thinking, remember what’s important – and be sure it’s all there in the lightning-fast natural intelligence engine powered by my own biochemistry. I need to pick an area to think about – say, my clients – and scan through each one of them to see if I remember what’s there. Note the one I want to focus on, think through all of my accountabilities, people, financials, things – but wait! Financials! Remember to review financial statements… That’s a leap. Be sure to record this, so when I am scanning company organization, I tend to financials. Everything is connected in some ways. As I move around the brain, I realize, the way I organize my thoughts may have changed. Where a node used to be called “QA problem” is now just “QA” with specific accountabilities, and people who are confidently executing on the strategy. Wait, did I connect this engineer with his development resource? Suddenly, I am motivated to make an introduction. The Brain is a thought organizational system that unlike a todo list has become a motivational tool. It doesn’t tell me what to do, it inspires me to take advantage of the opportunities that occur… in my own brain.
Seems I have a recipe for all common problems…
Feeling overwhelmed? Add to TheBrain to allow visual organization of thoughts be forever captured.
Disconnected? Browse TheBrain and see if any modes of its thinking need to be adjusted to capture my current path.
Demotivated? Browse until I see something that catches my eye.
Worried about what I missed? OK, that’s where some of the nice tagging features come in – everything that needs specific attention does get a todo tag, so I can see things at a glance.
I don’t know whether it’s just me… It probably is. My natural brain is a rather strange and dynamic place. And yet… I hope you enjoy this idea. TheBrain may not be the best in class mind mapping. I liked it, and I liked the mission. So I made a home here. I might think about something else in another year.