Organizing My Mind (Part 2)

Sorry that it’s been so long since the last post. Life happens. Nothing too bad, just busy.

To continue with the previous post about mapping and organizing my mind…

In the last six years, I’ve closed my law practice and joined my husband’s financial planning practice as an administrative assistant. My job is to organize the daily functions of the office and support him in whatever way he needs.

This was the perfect opportunity to use maps. We use a software program called MindManager by Mindjet and I also do a hand-drawn map each day to lay out my daily tasks. As part of this process, I also use an App for my iPhone called Omnifocus by Omnifocus Group.IMG_2151

I found this software/App during one of Jamie Nast’s classes when she referred to a book called “Getting Things Done” by David Allen. Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 2.29.12 PMHe has developed a system of organizing tasks and projects that I felt an immediate interest in. Although you can use the system with low-tech paper and file folders, some software developers have created Apps that go with the principals of his system. That’s what Omnifocus does. I’ve used it for years to completely revamp the way I keep track of my many tasks and projects. It’s become second nature to use this on my iPhone. I don’t know what I’d do without it.

I use Omnifocus to create my daily work map. It’s nothing artistic. Just functional. But it lets me know what to do and whether I’ve accomplished what I needed to for the day.

Never one to leave a system alone without trying to tweak it just that little bit more to make it better, I found that maps and Apps almost do what it want, but they seem to be missing one more thing. I wanted something that would help me see how I was spending my time throughout the day, across business and personal life. I have many interests (no surprise if you’ve been reading my posts) but I wanted to be sure that I was spending my time wisely across responsibilities and well as pleasurable activities.

I like being able to see the big picture. It’s one of the reasons that mapping appeals to me. But is doesn’t allow me to see the quantity of time or concentration in areas. One of the appealing things about maps is that you can create them in whatever order the information makes sense or that comes to you. After all our brains don’t necessarily think in a linear fashion.

But time does flow linearly. Back when I was taking class from Vanda North, I learned of a kind of mindmap she called a UPO. No it doesn’t fly in the sky. It stands for Universal Personal Organizer. She combined a mindmap with a circle divided into wedges for hours of the day. You can show both appointments or time-committed activities coded with the regular central-image mindmap. She combined this with a very large representation of a calendar. This had months across the top and days down the side. Here you could enter the big activities and scheduled things and see the whole year at-a-glance.

I loved this. I made my own with an Excel spreadsheet and printed it out over a couple of sheets taping them together and folding them so they would fit inside a binder where each of the UPO daily pages went.

This was a great system for awhile, but the large size of it (3-ring binder) became a lot to carry. I experimented with binders and pages that were half the size, but this, too had it’s cumbersome-ness (if that’s even a word).

Whew! That’s a lot of background. Thanks for sticking with this. I promise, the end is coming.

About 2 years ago, I stumbled on a format the isn’t a mindmap, really. But it accomplishes what I want it to. Although I’ve never found ONE system that does it all at once, I’ve pieced together a combination of my iPhone Omnifocus and something I call a “Timeline Journal”

I wanted to be able to track my daily activities such as Fitness, Journalling, Learning, Creating, Errands, Work, Housekeeping, Reading, and TV/Movies/Theatre. These are the things that I want to track. It’s decidedly low-tech, which appeals to my artistic/tactile side.

I use a small Moleskine unlined journal; one day per page. I like to use Pigma Micron pens for their different nib size, mostly black ink, but some with colors for annotations, and a simple set of colored pencils. It all fits snugly into a zipped bag meant to be used as a book cover (bought at Barnes and Noble).

I start my day by creating a new page with the “template” IMG_2149I use each day; color-coding the categories. I use Omnifocus to show me what I have to do that day (recurring and unique items I enter there). These are listed under their categories. The timeline across the top shows me how much time I’ve spent throughout the day. At the end, I can see just where my time went.

Throughout the day, I return to the Timeline and update it. There’s another use that I find appealing about this setup. It helps me use my memory each day, as I don’t usually record things as they happen. I want to keep my mind sharp as I get older, and remembering how I’ve spent my time and recording those things is one way to do that.

Then…(yes there’s more) each week I go back through the entries and make annotations about details, or journal about things that happened that weren’t entered. This is another memory aid.IMG_2150

All these things work to help me organize my mind and give me a sense of peace (and, yes, control perhaps).

Whew! you made it. That’s impressive. Thanks for hanging in there.


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