Mind Mapping – Get the Clutter OUT of Your Head!

A mind map is a powerful tool for getting those swirling thoughts out of your head, down on paper and collected into categories. ALL the thoughts!  Really.  ALL the thoughts swirling around in my head.  It’s like the tornado from Wizard of Oz in there.

 Oh look!  There goes that phone call I need to make!  Wow! That cool new social media tool I’m supposed learn just whizzed by! If I could just …. reach it …. and hold.on.to.it.

They swirl and swirl. The harder I try to grab on and tuck them into a safe place in my memory bank, the more they swirl and nag. Until I am a whimpering lump … confused, overwhelmed, stressed out and ready to walk away from the whole blasted thing.

Have you ever felt like that?  Or is it only the craziness going on in my own head?  I’m willing to bet Dorothy’s ruby slippers that you have felt it too.

A mind map is a powerful tool for getting those swirling thoughts out of your head, down on paper and collected into categories. Popularized by Tony Buzan in the 1970’s, it is a visual tool that has been used to organize all kinds of information.

Photo credit: mindmapping.com


When you start googling to look for examples, you’ll find everything from  complicated and elaborate hand-drawn masterpieces to stripped down computer-generated layouts. And all of these have their place in the world of developing ideas.

I personally try to keep my mind mapping fairly simple, focused on dumping everything from my head to the paper.  Although, I have found that an occasional doodle and well-placed arrow will sometimes get the creative juices flowing.  So experiment and do what works best for you!


Enter your info to download a blank mind map and a completed example to get you started.
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Mind Mapping Tips

  • Your main goal or central idea goes in the center circle. The ovals are for multi-step projects or categories. You can have sub-categories or sub-projects off of the ovals (see the yellow circles in the example)
  • The “branches” are for individual steps or tasks.
  • You can add ovals or lines as needed (see the red circles and lines in the example)
  • Let your mind wander as you draw ovals and lines.  Mentally explore the idea and get everything out in the open.
  • A single task could fall under multiple ovals. It doesn’t matter which one you put it on.  Just get it out of your head and down on paper!
  • Don’t try to edit your ideas as you work.  Put down everything you think of and edit later.
  • Keep your mind map handy for a few days.  You’ll probably have more ideas come to you that you want to capture.

While I prefer to do my mind mapping on paper, there are some cool digital tools available, like MindMup (free, online), MindMaple (free, download) and Mindmeister (not free, download).  Some have mobile apps associated with them, which could be handy.  Try them out and let us know if you like them!

Once you have everything out of your head and onto to the paper, it can be a bit overwhelming.  In the next part of this series, we’ll be talking about PLANNING to eat your elephant.  I’ll lead you through the Planning Six-Pack to sort and schedule your tasks.  So don’t miss it!

Share below how mind mapping may help you get the idea tornado out of your head.

And join us on Zohary’s blog for the next in our series on 31 Days of Eating Elephants.

Tired from trying to share your God-inspired message while working your full time job?

Do you wonder if it’s worth it, or even possible, to build a ministry or business on the side?

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That’s why I’m glad to share with you the four-part Honor System, to help you honor all the work God has given you to do. These are the hard-earned lessons I’ve taken away from chasing after my dreams and maintaining the career that supports my family.

Grab it here!

This week I am linking up with Holley Gerth at #CoffeeForYourHeart, with Kelly Balarie at #RaRaLinkup, with Holley Gerth at #CoffeeForYourHeart, with Natalie Venegas at Salt & Light, Arabah Joy at Grace & Truth, Susan B. Mead at #DanceWithJesus


25 thoughts on “Mind Mapping – Get the Clutter OUT of Your Head!”

  1. Hi there, I’m stopping by from Holley’s link up. I’ve heard about mind mapping but never used it myself (as I sit here, my hubby’s mind map is within reach, ha!), but thanks for the explanation. Sounds like something that may help ease the clutter in my mind :).

  2. Love the term “idea tornado”! That really describes what so often is swirling in my mind! I’ve seen others do these amazing mind maps, but haven’t tried it yet myself. But maybe now’s the time to give it a shot! Thanks for the encouragement.

    • It is so helpful. Just be careful! When you see it all on paper, it can be overwhelming. Next week, in our 31 Days of Eating Elephants series, we’ll talk about what to do with all those ideas once they are out of your head! Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Great post. I’ve done mind mapping before and always benefitted from it. I just don’t always sit myself down and make myself DO it. But thanks for the tips and the sheet, etc. Those will be a great resource for my next map!

  4. I LOVE mind mapping. I first learned it in my communication and creativity class in college. I’ve used it to brainstorm and yes, to get rid of my cerebral tornadoes. I find it to be a simple and helpful tool.

    • I really like keeping it simple and clean. Too much doodling can make my mind map as messy as my idea tornado! GLad you visited, Patricia!

  5. Your idea tornado has perfectly described my current state of novel writing: all ideas flying by and no productivity. It can literally feel like I’m swept up into the chaos with no direction. A mind map might really help. I remember being taught to use those while in elementary school. We called them “word webs” and I haven’t really thought about them since then. I feel like, just maybe, with that tool things can start to come together.

    Thank you for sharing and I’m looking forward to reading your Planning Six Pack.

    • I hope you do find it helpful, Brianna. I am working with another client who is using mind-mapping and the Planning Six Pack to plan her book-writing and all the other things that go along with that. Let me know if I can help!

  6. I haven’t done this in a long time. It would be amazing to discover all the ideas that pop out. I am going to give this a try! We should all be doing this at least once a week to declutter everything going on in our minds. Even if there aren’t any good ideas, it could just free the mind of always racing 100 miles an hour. Thank you for sharing.

  7. I have not tried mind mapping before, but I sure do understand that swirling idea tornado analogy! I use a similar technique, the Brain Dump, writing down every idea that pops into my head at random, then sorting them into tasks or dates or ideas for later in my planner or journal.
    P.S.-Found you via the Grace & Truth linkup!


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