The thought of preparing for a birthday party, event (or whatever other big project you're working on, or avoiding, or procrastinating about) is usually far more overwhelming than the actual doing of it. Like every project, once you set down the parameters of what's actually required, it stops being so scary and anxiety-provoking, and it shrinks down into something manageable, and even, maybe enjoyable.
So let's shrink this birthday party sucker down into something doable, and start breathing again.
Step 1: Take your piece of paper (larger is usually better, at least A3 size)
Step 2: Get God involved in the process, in whatever way you're comfortable with. Some people like to write 'with God's help' in the top corner of their mind-map; others will just send out a quick thought that God should help them to get the answers they need; still others will put a few coins in their charity box. Whatever works for you is fine.
Step 3: Next, put 'preparing the birthday party' or 'my birthday party prep' or something like that, in a circle in the middle of the paper, and put a circle round it. Remember this is a blue-print for an organisation mind-map, and you can use the steps described here for any organisation task or job, from cleaning out your closets; to sorting out all your financial papers; or rearranging your whole human resources department.
Step 4: You can do the next bit however you like:
- break it down by tasks
- break it down by categories
- break it down by priorities
The idea is to arrange the related tasks or elements around your central mind-map theme, the same way spokes are around the central hub of the wheel. Each idea is connected to the main idea, but it's going off into its own sphere, and will have its own separate considerations and elements.
You can use different colour pens for each separate task or category, to really start bringing it to life.
Step 5: The next step is to see if you need to breakdown your main categories further, into smaller sub-categories. For example, 'Catering' is one of the things you have to organise for the birthday party. But that's not the whole story.
So under 'Catering', you're going to either list all the things related to that particular task, or you're going to make 'Catering' the hub of a separate mind-map spoke. Whichever way you pick, the idea is have all the different elements of 'Catering' clearly set out, vis:
- Ask friends for catering recommendations
- Get quotes from caterers
- Check with the birthday girl or guy what food preferences they might have
- Set catering budget
- Check caterer's availability
Now, you need to start prioritising the list you just made under 'Catering'. Again, you can do this in a few different ways: some people may want to prioritise it in terms of importance; others, in term of what needs to be done first; others, in terms of how much time each particular thing is going to take, or how much money it's going to cost.
How you prioritise your mind-maps is going to depend on the goals you want to achieve.
In the 'Birthday Party' example, you might choose to prioritise like this:
1) Check with the birthday girl or guy what food preferences they have
2) Set catering budget
3) Ask friends for catering recommendations
4) Get quotes from caterers
5) Check caterer's availability
Often when you start to prioritise, that's when you'll start to get some very helpful insights. In this example, it could be that you'll be working on the catering, when you'll actually realise that you need to know where you're holding the party, before you can actually make that decision.
Are you going for a marquee on the lawn, or renting out a hall, or doing something more original and 'out there', like holding your party by the beach in a forest? Is there going to be an onsite kitchen, or does everything have to be pre-prepared?
Other insights will also flash up, like you need to think about if the weather is going to be hot or cold; or how many people you'd like to invite. If it's 14, you can afford to splash out a bit more on the food. If it's 400 - cheap and cheerful is the name of the game.
All of these insights start to coalesce into a big picture, that will actually guide you towards the right decisions, and the next steps you need to take.
Whatever organisation project you're working on, make sure that:
1) You're BEING HONEST about how you actually work, and your preferences, and your limitations;
2) Forget about 'SHOULD', and
3) Keep your priorities realistic.
Step 6: Draw your conclusions
This is where the real mind-map magic starts to work.
Maybe, you'll look at your 'to do' list for the birthday party, and you'll realise that you have loads to do, and not enough time to get it all done. You've just uncovered something profoundly useful, namely that you need some help in order to pull the project off.
Now, you can start to think about who might be willing to help you, and what things you might be able to delegate to them.
Or maybe, you'll realise that the birthday party you were planning out in your head is far beyond your budget or time constraints. If that's the case, you need to figure out a different sort of birthday party: maybe, it needs to be on a smaller scale? Or maybe, the catering could be less fancy? Or maybe, you decide it's better to scrap the idea all together, and spend the money taking the birthday guy or girl skiing for the weekend instead…
At this stage of the mind-mapping process, you should have enough information set out to help you to start drawing some conclusions about what needs to happen, when, and how.
Step 7: Set yourself goals / action points
The last step of the mind-mapping process is to turn your insights into a solid plan of action. Based on what you now know are your priorities, you can start to create a list of action points, and where appropriate, you can attach deadlines to them.
Some action points for the 'Birthday Preparation' mind-map could include:
- Set a budget for the party by the end of the week.
- Find a caterer by the end of next week.
- Get the invitations printed for 2 weeks' time; send them out in 3 weeks' time
Remember that the same basic recipe that you've learned in this example can be applied to any other organisational issue, problem or decision.
In the next example, you'll learn how you can apply the same basic mind-mapping principles to matters of the mind and spirit.
OK, now we've seen how to apply mind-mapping easily to decluttering our brains and our homes from all the stuff we need to do, organise, clean, sort out.
You can use mind-maps any time you feel overwhelmed, and need to prioritise what to do first, or next. But you can also use mind-maps for more deeper things, and that's what we're going to try to do in the next post.