Making a Map of Your Mind

I live in western North Carolina, in an area full of tiny roads that can all take me to the same place. The number of paths I can travel and spend just about the same amount of time to get to my destination is amazing.

I can take an interstate highway almost all the way, traveling through an eight-lane confluence where a direction must be mapped and picked in an instant before everyone breaks apart to continue on their way. I can pull off at an exit just before that massive intersection and wind my way through an industrial area where the trains pull through town and artists sell their wares from old cotton mills and antique office buildings. I can remove myself entirely from the highway and wend my way there through tree-lined avenues.

When I started figuring out all of these options, I was baffled. Why have so many ways to get there from here? I studied maps and got myself lost and then got myself unlost again. Driving from new place to new place slowly revealed the area to me. I took the process one step at a time – well, one drive at a time – and discovered each path I needed to follow to get where I wanted to go.

Making a map of your journey, looking at the roads which intersect, searching for how you get there from here – this helps to show you where you are going.

And that’s why a mindmap can help you plan the journey to finish your project.

What Is a Mind Map?

All projects need a path, whether you are knitting a pair of socks or painting a mural or building a business. Creating a physical map of your course helps you to plot out your steps. It helps you to know that each step you take is meaningful, because each step gets you that much closer to your destination. A mind map helps you to define each of these steps.

A mind map is a picture that you draw to show all the parts of the project. It looks like this:

How To Make Your Mind Map

Begin by putting the name of the project in the center of the page and putting a circle around it.

Now, write down all the parts – move all of your ideas from inside your brain to outside on the page. Circle each thing and then draw lines to connected parts of the project, to problems and potential solutions as they show up in your mind.

If you write down something that you don’t know how to do or need more information, add a question mark or an asterisk or use a different color pencil to write that part. Those are places where you just need more information. But keep writing down everything you can see needs to be completed in order for the project to come together.

Branch out to show all of the parts of the project, bits that shore stuff up and bring together the whole thing. Draw lines between connected parts, the bits that need to get done for that part of the project to take hold.

By creating this graphic representation of the project, you are charting your own path to finishing. You are showing yourself where you can get lost – and get unlost! – and where you know the road which will get you from here to there.

Create a mind map for a project you are contemplating. Decorate it – make it pretty! Hang it up and see what glorious ideas continue to flow. You don’t have to finish it all in one go. Put your mind map up where you can see it and continue to add ideas as they come to you.