mind maps, minotaurs and the maze

Cigar-tin story #64. Cigar-tin stories are tchotchkes.

Drawing mind maps these days, on graph paper the size of place mats.

In university, the night before a final exam, I'd try to put the ideas of an entire course on a single piece of paper. And then stare at it. Hoping it would sink in. This was almost always because I hadn't done any real studying (or note-taking, or learning) throughout the rest of the year.

By reducing it to a sort of picture, to a composite image of letters and commas and periods, to loops and ticks and dots and the spaces in-between, I hoped for a kind of magical recall at the appointed moment of terror (the gymnasium, those hundreds hunched over, the running lines of the blank test booklet).

It worked about half the time.

These days the issue is more about organization (and time management ... a peculiar crisis of everyone in their forties). I have these little books, you see, where I write down all my tasks and ideas and things to remember. But the trouble with books is that they (a) multiply and (b) can be closed. They become stepping stones in a maze of your past mind and present anxieties.

When I create a mind map, I'm making myself an oversized flashcard for where I'm at, where I need to be (pretty much right away), and where I hope to arrive (in the not-so-distant future). The maze is still there but you can see it all at once, as if from an airplane.

Yes, it reduces but it does so in an honest way. It says: this is everything I can think of right now. It's much simpler and more complicated than I thought it was.

And now that you've drawn it, the minotaur -- your anxiety -- will get you moving soon enough.


  1. I have my own personal minotaur associations and similar problems with organization. It doesn't help that I fall in love with every precious drafting implement and paper product that I see. They're like little fetish objects and I buy them thinking they'll be my golden thread, but they all end up becoming the stepping stones you mentioned (great line by the way). My O.K. organizing solution so far is to keep a small list on the iPod since it's always with me. Might try a mind map for some of the more long-range goals...

  2. I'm avoiding you until I can write a postcard back.

  3. Mind maps are fabulous - I love them. I too used them for studying and yes it does work! I use them for work projects too - there is even (free) software out there for mind-mapping but freehand is more fun - and the more colours the better.

    But for me the simple act of writing/drawing it removes some of the anxiety.

    BTW - Have you heard of Tony Buzan? Father of MMing.

  4. 生存乃是不斷地在內心與靈魂交戰;寫作是坐著審判自己。...........................................................................

  5. I'm a big fan of writing things down so I don't forget. In college, I studied by rewriting my notes. Cramming never would've worked for me.

    Everyone needs the method that works for them.

  6. Great



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