Mind Maps – How to Get Organized

It’s been one of those weeks.

You know the one I’m talking about…

  • the one where’ve you been gone for two weeks and you return to over-flowing to-do lists
  • the one where the weather outside is GORGEOUS {when it should be otherwise} and you can’t stand the thought of sitting at your desk working when you could be outside basking in the sun
  • the one where you have a reading queue of incredible books that are calling your name
  • the one where you want to spend your free time enjoying your family and catching up with your friends.

That’s the kind of week it’s been – and it’s only Thursday!

And while I managed to get enough done before we left for vacation for things to keep running while I was away, I didn’t exactly leave myself a “welcome home” gift of a pre-scheduled week of blog posts. {Which would have been really kind of me to do!} So I’ve been throwing posts together last minute in order to meet my deadlines this week, praying that God would cause my fingers to press the correct keys and to draw out the message He wanted me to share each day. And at times I’ve had to let go of my personal blogging to-do list in order to keep on top of the work due for my clients or spend time with my family.

And yet, in the midst of a week like this, I’ve managed to get organized, completing a large chunk of my to-do list, thanks to mind mapping.

How to Use Mind Maps to Get Organized

Mind Maps

Earlier this week, I created a mind map of all the tasks I needed to accomplish this week. It was probably the best way I could have started a crazy week like this. I had a brain full of thoughts and no way to organize them, so I grabbed a sheet of paper and started mind mapping.

Tsh Oxenrider says: “The basics of a mind-map are to start with one general idea, and then to add the ideas that naturally flow from the first one. The result will be a spider web of thoughts.” {One Bite at a Time, p. 55}

I started with 6 different “focus centers” as a way to help organize my thoughts. {Normally I would probably only have 3-5 centers, but coming back from vacation added an extra or two.}


Once I had my “focus centers” defined, I began to let my brain dump tasks onto the paper, jotting the tasks down near the “focus center” it best fit.


Under each main task, I tried to list the separate steps needed to complete it. Some tasks were self-encompassing, while others required a multi-step process for completion. Breaking down the tasks in this way helped me to better judge the effort and time required for completion.


Once I had my mind map filled in, I could begin to analyze which tasks required my immediate attention and which ones could wait until later in the week. This helped me to put together a to-do list to work from throughout the remainder of the week.

Knowing what needed to be done and when it needed to be completed helped me to meet deadlines {even if I did so last minute} and get things accomplished even in the midst of a week like this one!

Have you ever used a mind map to get organized? How could you see yourself using a mind map in the future?

Simplify is my “one word” focus for 2012, and One Bite at a Time has been a great resource in helping me to do so.

“Broken down into manageable chunks, One Bite at a Time provides you with steps, tips, links, and motivation to slow down and simplify” {from 52bites.com}.

I highly recommend purchasing a copy of this great resource!

one bite at a time


  • http://damselandfamily.com/ Damsel

    I do this all the time!!  I love the feeling of “brain dumping”.  I didn’t know it had a name.  :) It’s so nice to know that I don’t have to remember something because I’ve written it down.  I always feel like I’ve climbed a mountain after I do this.  Sometimes I need two or three pieces of paper… those are the rough days!  :)

    • http://blog.ashleypichea.com Ashley Pichea

      “Sometimes I need two or three pieces of paper…”

      I know what you mean!! I had to write REALLY small on Monday, and I used BOTH sides of the paper! :)

  • http://ourgoodfamily.org/ Aurie Good

    I never heard of “brain dumping” – but I really like the concept!!

    • http://blog.ashleypichea.com Ashley Pichea

       Oh girl, you will never look back once you try it!  :)

  • http://www.writeshop.com/blog Kim Kautzer

    I love this! I’ve only used mind mapping for brainstorming and organizing a writing project. I really love the idea of using it as an effective personal organizing tool. And believe me, I need that! :)

    • http://blog.ashleypichea.com Ashley Pichea

       I learned it as a writing tool first, too, but it wasn’t long until I realized the possibilities and saw the potential for brain dumping with mind mapping!

  • smithfamily

    Just wanted to let you know that Freemind has free mindmapping software.  You can create just about anything you can imagine. I think this is the link: http://www.freemind.sourceforge.net  Happy mapping!

    • http://blog.ashleypichea.com Ashley Pichea

       Thanks for the resource link. Personally, I think best with paper and pencil {you should see my pencils – they’re worn to the nub}, but that is a great resource for those who prefer to process on the computer!

  • http://www.wildrootshome.blogspot.com/ kim

    Wonderful! This is just what I need right now. Actually, organization is often a struggle for me. Thanks for sharing this idea. I am going to do it tomorrow.

  • http://www.wildrootshome.blogspot.com/ kim

    Rethinking this…….how is this different than writing simple “to do” lists, broken down the same way?

    • http://blog.ashleypichea.com Ashley Pichea

      For me, the mind-maps allow me to brain dump in a non-linear way… one thought leads to another and often away from the focus center. By using the mind-map, I’m able to get all my thoughts down as they come out without trying to stay linearly organized. I then turn my mind-maps into linear lists.

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  • Lois Ridley

    This is good! Thanks…

  • Jennifer Schon

    I didn’t know this had a name. I do this kind of thing all the time – not exactly like you showed but very close. It helps me so much. If I try to keep it all in my brain I tend to shut down, but if I can get it onto paper my brain is free to figure out what to do and when. I have a clipboard I carry around with me with all of my notes written on it.

    • http://blog.ashleypichea.com Ashley Pichea

      Isn’t it freeing to get it all out of your brain and onto a piece of paper?!?

  • Alison

    Love this, thanks for sharing your process, very helpful, particularly the ‘focus centres’.

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  • Nsf

    I’ve never heard of mind map. I do brain dump though. I make a list of everything. Then I color code into categories as I go. I also make legend. I write down every step. My lists are usually 2 sides of 8 1/2 x 11 paper. I could see my mind map becoming very crowded.

    • http://blog.ashleypichea.com Ashley Pichea

      Some people do think linearly, which it sounds like you might, so lists are easier than mind maps. Personally, one thought leads to another (not always related), so mind mapping is a great way for me to be able to organize them!