Journaling is a great way to start your day. It pulls things out of your head and puts them on paper where you can look them over and deal with them, but sometimes words aren’t enough. Thoughts begin as feelings and images long before they can be expressed in words. If you can’t put these thoughts into complete phrases, sentences and paragraphs then you risk losing the opportunity to work through them. Mind mapping is an excellent alternative when words alone just won’t do. Here are some tips for developing a daily habit of mapping in the morning.
Create a Mapping Space
Mapping can be done almost anywhere, but it’s helpful to have a sacred space where you can spend some time alone with your thoughts. It doesn’t have to be fancy. A table and chair in a quiet corner will do nicely. Stock your space with your favorite mapping tools (colored pens, pencils and markers; quality paper and/or sketchpads; and anything else you require). If you’re a digital mapper, then you’ll need to have your desktop or laptop computer handy. Add some ambiance. Light a candle. Play some soft music or whatever music fits your mood (Hard rock works well when you’re feeling angry or rebellious.). I have a collection of clip art on CD I like to keep handy.
Make the space your own, a place you’ll look forward to visiting each morning.
Map What’s On Your Mind
Make the main topic of your map whatever you like. Put whatever’s front and center in your brain front and center in your map. Use an image or a single word to represent the topic. If your thoughts are just too foggy to pick a main topic, then just put the date, a word like “random” or “thoughts”, or an image of yourself at the center.
Branch out from the main topic in a rapid and free fashion. You might want to create branches with subjects like Ideas, Feelings, Desires, Problems, Remember, People, Errands, and Gather. You may want to create branches with more specific subjects like the name of someone who’s been on your mind, a project you’ve been working on, or a difficulty you’re working through.
The point is to get what’s in your heart and on your mind onto the map. The end product will be a one-page visual of all the things competing for your attention.
Don’t Get Bogged Down in Details
The same creativity killers that plague writers can hinder mappers too. Being overly analytical and critical is the enemy. Perfection is a futile distraction.
Yes, there are ideal principles associated with mind mapping, but if following those principles perfectly hinders the free flow of ideas, then you’ve defeated the purpose of these morning excursions. With practice, the ins and outs of mapping will become second nature and won’t require much thought at all. But in the beginning, don’t sweat the small stuff.
For instance, if you find yourself agonizing over what color to use for a certain branch, “paint it black”. Use a fine tip black marker or pen and draw the outline of a main topic branch. You can fill it with color at a later time. Or you could simply lay out your markers side by side before you begin and randomly run through the rainbow. Remember, you and your mind are having your first meeting of the day. You have the rest of the day to perfect whatever surfaces.
Save and Review
These maps can serve several purposes. They can accompany you on your day as a reminder of what you’d like to accomplish. You can pull them out and pluck the items relevant to a project or task you’re working on. Often they will contain seeds of future ideas and keys to solutions for problems you might face. Store them for future reference in a binder or folder.
Once a month or so set aside some time to look through your collection. Feel free to toss out maps that no longer serve any purpose, but hang onto the ones that contain real insights and other useful information. Overtime you’ll find you’ve created an atlas of your mind and heart.
Combine Mapping with Traditional Journaling
With traditional journals, it’s often difficult to find those key passages in which you stumble upon a real aha moment. In my own experience, my handwritten journals were often difficult to read because my penmanship declined as my thoughts quickened. Maps, I have found, are much easier to review and trigger memories of matters important to me. However, I still journal and find that combining the two can have powerful results.
You can purchase a notebook or sketchpad with no lines and combine writing with mapping. If you use mapping software like Mind Manager by Mindjet or Nova Mind, you’ll find the note functions very handy. I frequently switch back and forth between mapping and writing since it’s so easy to write and attach notes to my branches.
This should be an enjoyable practice so enjoy it! You won’t be graded. Your livelihood isn’t at stake. There’s no agenda. No one but you even has to see them. They’re meant to serve your purpose. Put them to work for you and have fun doing it.
Now, get mapping!
Source: Creativity Man