10 Jan 2018
10 January, 2018

Start your year and make a map

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Set your mind up for success

Doesn’t it feel like time passes faster with every year that goes by? At this stage, we find ourselves in a good position: you can still reflect on the previous year and learn from experience, but it is also the right time to look ahead and plan for the current year: 2018.

Your mindset is crucial for this new year

Too often I hear people complain that time flies. Believe me on this one though: it is all about your mindset. The notion of time is the same for everyone on Earth, what matters is the way you use it. It is not so much about managing your time, as it is about controlling your energy levels. With your mind, you can control what your energy is spent on. I challenge you: help your mind by visualising information for yourself.

I have been visualising information, projects, tasks, and decision processes for 10 years now (even my own wedding!). Often, people challenge me on the use of mind-mapping and other forms of visualisation tools. Instead of trying it to see if it works for them, I hear all kinds of excuses:

  • It takes too much time
  • I cannot do that myself
  • I don’t understand it

Just for the record, I don’t care about the excuses. What I do care about is results. Visualising works. Every time I was put to the test to help others by means of visualisation, I delivered results. You get even better results when you brainstorm and create a planning with other people involved. I hear you thinking that it would take too much time, but I assure you, you will end up saving time. Since everyone involved is participating in planning and brainstorming, you have a buy-in from them and you will record realistic deadlines that can be met by participants. Isn’t that already a timesaver?

Visualisation of information works

Still not convinced? I have written a few articles on this topic, check out my Medium profile. If you need more proof, read the books by Dan Roam. He has been visualising for more than 10 years about the importance of using visuals when one communicates professionally and personally. Why do you think that airports use icons to guide you to specific places, to bypass the challenge of using languages to convey a message!

Start by doing it yourself

Challenge yourself to complete at least one New Years resolution: start visualising information. I guarantee you that you will become more effective in communicating and conveying your message and you will save time in the process.

What can you do to make 2018 a great year? You can start by drafting a mind-map of the things you want to accomplish professionally and personally. You can add your interests and goals as well.

I hear you wondering how this is different to jotting down a to-do list. Most to-do lists (paper or app based) work in an orderly fashion. A mind-map, however, is visual and radial/ organic, which means it is more brain-friendly. Since your brain processes information visually, based on associations, it would process a mind-map more efficiently and more effectively (once it gets used to doing so). It is also easier to cluster thoughts and make (dependent) connections in a mind-map. Don’t only take my word for it. Skim through a book or article by Tony Buzan, the originator of mind-mapping.

How to map the year 2018

Start by writing down your name + 2018 in the centre of a landscape piece of paper. If you feel lucky, make a drawing in the centre — this will trigger your creative side. Then you start adding main topics of your year, these are similar to chapters in a book. Think of topics such as career, relationships, family, fun, hobbies, health, wealth, personal development, bucket list items, holidays, etc. To stimulate your brain, use different colours per main topic. Give the connectors (branches) between the centre topic and main topics their own corresponding colour.

Start your year and make a map v2 copy

If you get stuck halfway, no worries! Just start adding sub-topics to your main topic: the year 2018. For example, on the “hobbies” branch: learn to play guitar or follow an e-course on coding as part of personal development. Spend some time to map out the ideas and things that you want to achieve. For every idea you write down, ask yourself this question: “What and why is this important?”. This should not break your head, if you cannot think of anything to add, let it rest and revisit it again later.

Eventually, you will end up with your colourful mind/ road-map of 2018. If you have created it by hand make a photo of it and keep it on your phone so you can review it and see if you are on track for this year. Even better, hang it on the fridge so you see it frequently. Review your map at least once a week. Learn from it!

Of course, you can also make a digital mind map: there are many tools such as Mindmeister, XMind, iMindMap and MindManager, all are free to try. Read my article on brainhacks, checkout brainhack 2 to read more on mind-mapping and digital tools. Though digital might seem more efficient, I urge you to make a hand-drawn map when you’re just starting. It is more fun and probably will be more “you” on paper!

Did you manage to start?

If not yet, then I have a few reasons why you should:

  • You will notice mapping out your ideas will give you clarity and focus
  • It declutters your mind, since you don’t need to remember it
  • Also, be sure your ideas and goals are achievable
  • Working with a map stimulates radial thinking instead of linear thinking
  • It helps you see the bigger picture from a broader perspective

Have you started but you got stuck halfway through? Just think of the most important things you want to achieve this year. It also helps to talk to your partner, colleague or a friend to determine what should be put on the map. This should help you navigate to the end of this year and in doing so increase your personal development, help you to spend more time with your family and finally take up those hobbies you never had time for.

All this by visualising?

Simply: yes. The bigger picture will be visualised. Good luck and make 2018 a great year!

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