Develop a second brain


“Normal linear note taking and writing will put you into a semi-hypnotic trance, while mind mapping will greatly enhance your left and right brain cognitive skills.” ― Tony Buzan, parent of modern mind mapping

Mindmapping is really a list making tool, but it’s under the Organizing Your Brain section because I think it has particular relevance for syncing with the way your brain actually works. The basic idea of mind mapping is to capture your thoughts, then organize. While many kids in school today are learning to use the technique, I learned how to outline. But the brain doesn’t work in a linear fashion. Especially for people with ADHD.

Why it helps

Often, people with ADHD are visual thinkers. Mind mapping helps organize thoughts in visual way. Importantly, you also capture some of the distracting thoughts than may be sparks of brilliance, or threads for some other project or paper. Or just junk, but at least you’ve gotten them out there. ADHD folks often experience shame that our ideas don’t fit the mold required for linear thinking – mind mapping provides a different, better model that embraces rather than repressing the way you likely think, unleashing your potential.

How it works

At the most basic level, you’re simply harnessing your brain. The method doesn’t require anything fancy. Start simple, with something like a grocery list. Just take a piece of paper, write the central idea (grocery list) in the center of the page, circle it, and start adding ideas in bubbles, connected to the central idea. Make them big. Make them small. Color them if you like. It’s really as simple as that, and you can use all sorts digital tools if you want to get fancier. But the key is to just let your Ferrari brain rip.

What to do

mind map on napkinAs outlined above, just try it out. As author Jacqueline Sinfield notes in her Untapped Brilliance blog, just make a commitment to try the practice. Do something simple, such as a grocery list. Then try something like your errands for the day. The exercise itself helps give you insight into your brain, and capture all of those floating ideas, making you more productive and less distracted. Or you can jump in and try one of the many free apps out there. Xmind and Freemind are two of the most popular. But it might be worth it to shell out a few dollars for an app on your smartphone.

I have personally used SimpleMind on the android and iBlue Sky on the iPhone.

And I use Mindmeister on desktop, primarily because of its close integration with Google Apps

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