I'm came up with the idea for this post from the Biggerplate.com Annual Mind Map Survey done (much) earlier in 2015.
Since I was focused on my new Abu Dhabi adventure, I'm writing this now.
If you haven't checked out the survey yet, I recommend you set aside a bit of time and have a look. It's a high-quality survey and provides a lot of good insight.
What I'd like to do in this article is expand upon and impress my own opinions on a few topics covered in the survey.
Do you just use mind maps for brainstorming?
An item that caught my attention in the survey was they high percentage of users who said they mostly use mind maps for brainstorming compared to other uses.
The numbers for brainstorming are great to see because mind maps are amazing tools for tracking ideas. It's clear that the survey respondents recognize this powerful facet of the tool.
I just hope that users (like you) are deciding to take things a few steps further.
Most of what excites me with mind maps happens AFTER we've brainstormed and come up with cool ideas.
Let's talk a little about why I think that, and hopefully I can encourage you to take things to the next level with your usage.
Would you throw a Ferrari onto the trash pile?
I liken brainstorming to owning a Ferrari…
But you don't have the keys. And it's just sitting in the driveway.
Even it you couldn't drive it, it would still be really cool to own a Ferrari.
Think about it. You could go out with a bucket and wash it. Your neighbours would all see who's car it was.
The best part is you could legitimately buy one of those bumper stickers.
You know. One that says, “My other car is a Ferrari.”
But as we all know. The reason for buying an exotic sports car is to take it out on a winding road… and as you shift into fourth gear… you have the ability (and perhaps the responsibility) to to make your tires smoke white.
OK. I'm obviously joking A bit. But you get the idea.
Would you like the keys to your dream car?
Based on the survey, what do many users do once they're done brainstorming?
For one, they might just leave the ideas where they are and do nothing.
In a lot of circumstances that's fine. I love the idea of putting your ideas some place safe for later use. I also imagine that there will be times where great ideas are saved in a file somewhere and forgotten.
A second, and I hope more likely reason, is that our good user has decided to employ a separate tool to get the job done.
There are plenty of great project management tools. If, for example, our user was writing a book, she could have moved everything into a program like yWriter or Scrivner take things the rest of the way.
The point I want to bring up is my belief that there is an inflection point whenever you change from creating to implementing.
An inflection point exists whenever there's potential for something to either move faster, slower, or it could potentially remain the same.
That last sentence is a little vague. Let's talk about an example.
How are you going to write your book?
Let's say you're thinking about writing a new book. You finally take the time out of your busy schedule to sit down and you end up doing some crazy good brainstorming.
The ideas are flowing out of your head like a river. You feel exhausted by the time you're done. But you still manage to call three people to tell them about how good your day was.
This moment is your inflection point. This is the time when your process can grind to a screeching halt. It's when you've spent all your creative juices and now need to get into the work of translating your ides into written (typed) words.
There's a chance your process might go straight downhill from here.
Sometimes you try to stop it, but it happens nonetheless.
One day you have a spectacular idea for a book, and the next day you need to get up for work like usual. You tell yourself, “I'll get back to this on the weekend.”
But that day never comes.
It ends up being one more great idea that won't see the light of day.
You can also experience an upward inflection.
Let's continue our book example.
Nothing changes from the night before.
You were still revved up about your book idea and called several people.
The difference now is that the following day you revisit what you worked on. You pick up where you left off and organize your thoughts even more.
By the time you look up from your computer screen, it's 3:00 A.M.. You've worked for several hours straight, forgot about supper and the TV, but you somehow feel energized and awake. This is an upward inflection.
The truth of the matter for most people will be somewhere in the middle of the two examples. Like most things in life, extremes can be useful, but it's probably not healthy In the long term either way.
I expect that you would want to avoid the extreme negative inflection.
That's the one holding your back from completing your task (the book in our example).
Emotions are fleeting
It sounds funny, but it's completely true. Emotions really are fleeting.
You can have intense feelings toward something, but two hours later it doesn't even cross your mind. You could be chasing your children in delight one minute, and then chasing them in rage two minutes later.
In order to maintain your work quality at the highest level possible, you should avoid doing something that distracts you from the task at hand.
So let me drop some insight on you…
When you switch the tool you're using, you increase the odds of a downward inflection.
That's it. Money in the bank baby!
You think it can't be that simple.
Let's talk about it for a minute. I'll start by asking you a question.
Even though something is easy, can it feel hard sometimes?
How would you wash your supercar?
Let's talk about washing your car.
On one hand, you could take your Ferrari to one of those automated washes. You might have to go inside and buy a code, but otherwise the only hassle comes from getting in your car and driving to the local car wash.
The second option you have for cleaning your beautiful car is to personally wash it by hand. This time you need to get out of your car and do it yourself. You probably already have most of the supplies you need at home. Hand washing doesn't take much more time than driving to a car wash and spraying it off, but it does take a little more effort.
If I asked you to wash your Ferrari today, would you do it, and which method would you use?
I'll suggest four responses:
- I don't feel like washing it today.
- I'll take it to the automated wash.
- I'll do it by hand.
- What are you crazy! You can't take a sports car to an automated car wash. It has to be pampered and babied. I alway take good care of my cars. I buy the right soaps. I do the interior at the same time. It's easy. I've done it a million times.
… And stop.
Were you thinking something like number four?
Even though washing the car by hand might seem like a better solution, the extra effort involved might be just enough that you decide not to wash your car at all and watch a movie instead.
Luckily, ideas aren't cars. Phew. But adding extra effort to your work flow makes progress exponentially harder, just like in the example.
I highly recommend making things as simple as possible to help you navigate the inflection point between capturing your ideas and implementing the work.
How do you get your Ferrari out of the driveway?
I enjoy using mind maps for brainstorming. In fact, I like use mapping all the way from creation to completion. A mind map may not always be the right tool, but keep in mind that a tool you use is better than one hidden in a box somewhere.
What's this mean in real life?
The next time you're finishing up a brainstorming session, I recommend trying one thing.
Instead of telling yourself you need to move your ideas somewhere else to continue working on them, ignore that feeling, and leave everything exactly where it is. Then, tell yourself, “It's almost done. I just need to go in and move a few things around.”
The goal is to make the process as simple as possible. Now it only takes a little effort to move onto the next step where you'll probably find yourself getting excited about your ideas again.
There's something magical about rearranging your ideas and seeing the connections you can make. I think it adds a whole new dimension to mind mapping.
So why not give it a try?