We all have those days when we sit in front of the screen and just wonder what to do, worse yet we sometimes get lost checking our emails, social media accounts or get stuck a couple of minutes/hours watching pointless YouTube videos. Before you know it time has flown by and it's time to call it a day...
So what did we accomplish? Absolutely nothing! We literally could have spent our time doing anything else and perhaps had been more productive (or perhaps not).
You've said it right Boromir! Now go protect that ring!
So what generally happens? Ok so you are in front of your screen and.... tick tock tick tock. After a while you start fumbling around with little things here and there, and before you know it a couple of hours wasted.
This was me a while back, but then I decided to attack this procrastinating issue head on, so I downloaded/started using a couple of tools/apps to help me get my act together.
I tried tools like Evernote and Trello, and even though I still use these tools today, they can get a bit cluttered which can lead to a lot of maintenance. I found myself spending more time organising, deleting, re-arranging my notes instead of focusing on the work I needed to get done.
If you don't have a proper structure in place after a couple of months these organizing tools ended up looking as cluttered as our minds and pretty much we're back to square one... We start procrastinating and productivity decreases.
What I needed was a tool and a system that would allow me to focus on one task at a time, to visually have the breakdown of related subtasks and to have it handy on a browser tab every time I sat down and started working.
Mind maps to the rescue
So what are mind maps? Well literally just that... maps. They help you navigate through your cluttered mind, and allow you to easily put thoughts down and separate them by logical groups and visually represent the relationship between ideas/tasks
Now there are many ways we can use mind maps but considering that this article is about productivity ill just share my experiences within this context.
We all work to accomplish a specific goal in mind, when it's an easy task generally a simple checklist would be enough to guide us through, but when it's a more complex task, having a Mind map gives us the ability to visually represent each individual task and its sub-tasks, giving us an immense advantage. Without a tool like this unless we possess an amazing memory it would be quite hard to remember each task to accomplish, and if we are not careful enough we can end up astray doing less important things or worse yet procrastinate.
I've been tossing around the idea of a blog for a couple of years, yes you read right A COUPLE OF YEARS! But after using mind maps it seriously took me a month to get this blog started and coded up. What a difference right? It’s incredible!
But enough talk, Ill provide you a link to the most amazing Mind map tool I've ever come across with its called Mindmeister, it’s so simple I won't have to show you how to use it I'm sure you will find it as useful as I have, and hopefully help you decrease procrastination and increase work productivity.
What I really like about this tool is its portability, it's simplicity and the way it allows you to tag each node with icons (numbers, smiley faces, green ticks, warnings and many others)
How I use mind maps on a day to day basis
Before I start any complex task I open up Mindmeister and create a new Mind map, I use the base node as the main goal I need to accomplish, then I branch out every single subtask that needs to be done (recursively until I finish). Once done I tag each task with a number Icon from the Image Library, Indicating the importance of the task '1' for things I need to finish up now '2' for secondary task and so on...
Once I complete each individual task/subtask I tag them with a green tick icon, this is what gives me a sense of progress and accomplishment which I find gives me a boost in motivation.
If I find a task difficult, I tag the node with a neutral smiley face, if I can't do a particular task I tag the node with an 'X' (cross) icon meaning I 'failed'. The good thing is that from that node I can then branch out other nodes/sub-tasks in which i find alternatives to the problem.
Here's a mock mind map example using Mindmeister
I'm pretty sure if you start using this Mind map technique your work productivity will increase, you will find yourself spending less time thinking of what to do next, and tackling the problem heads on. Little by little you will knock these tasks off your Mind map and before you know it you will accomplish your goals.
Hopefully this technique will help you as much as it helped me!