Recently there have been a lot of things going on in my life. So many that I started to find it difficult to keep track of everything. I needed a way to organize my thoughts so I could feel comfortable that things weren’t slipping through the cracks and so I could organize and attack my concerns.
A computer can slow down when you have lots of programs running, even when they’re in the background or not being currently worked on. Your brain is similar, state and progress needs to be tracked by your brain for every open task that is currently on your mind. If every “background task” takes up just 5% of your brains focus, those background tasks can quickly add up to be very distracting. That could lead you into a situation with just a few things on your mind where you don’t have the mental capacity to make progress on the things you want to work on.
It’s very important to be able to get some of those things out of your head so you can make progress on the things that you want to focus on. You can use lists, todo lists, Notes, sticky notes, or any other mechanism that works for you.
One of my favorite things to use is the Mind Map. A mind map allows you to quickly see and understand connections and move things around to organize and prioritize what is important.
I wanted to explore using this to organize all of the things in my mind and see if there is one area that is pulling a lot more of my focus than others. I started with one node in the center: Life. Then from there dumped every “Tier 1” thought I could think of.
Tier 1 thoughts for me are things like my career, family, house, finances, and hobbies. These give me natural groupings to start explore and organize. From there I go one level deeper than think about the most important aspects to that Tier 1 thought. Under family, for example I might put my parents, kids, and spouse. I keep iterating until I’m happy with the level of detail.
The point is not to write everything down, or necessarily make a plan of action. Notes or todo lists are probably best for that kind of organization. This is the 10,000 foot view of my life. This gives me the ability to know that I can put all these thoughts down and pick them up when I’m ready to think about then later.
For things that were really important to tackle soon I highlighted in red. Again, this isn’t mean to be a todo list, just a mapping of the things in your life.
Here is an example that I made for this blog post and a blurred out version of my real mind map to give you an idea of the scale once it’s all filled out.