There are times when you mind is super full. I feel like this after I read a particularly heady book or when I am at a conference. The book and the conference are similar in that you are immersed in a fairly cohesive set of ideas. They are different in that a book is usually an individual experience where as a conference is a collective one. However, in both instances, you need to make your own meaning. You might then need to incorporate the relevant meaning into your thinking.
I use a number of tools to try make sense of these ideas. Today I am sharing two tools that I use, on their own or together.
Mindmapping is a wonderful tool to create structure from protean intellectual ooze. You spill ideas, drawing linkages as you go. You can use a blank sheet of paper, put your big idea in the middle, and then let your ideas flow. If you want a styled up sheet, you can download one from me.
I love mindmapping, because you can watch the linkages appear as you think. However, there are drawback, as well. With some ideas, you might need to really wait to develop the linkages. Sometimes you will jump to conclusions in order to flesh out your map. That might not always be ideal.
In those instances, I create a MindBrew.
This is when I want to percolate. I want to be a little uncomfortable with the load of ideas. We live in a society where we fashion our lives around comfort. Okay, I have definitely walked around with coffee, for fear I might have to live the discomfort of being without caffeine. So, I get it. But, there are also times when I know that I need to live with discomfort. Discomfort comes from being faced with anything that feels hard. But, if you don’t address hard feelings, you won’t be able to transform them into constructive ones. The only alternative would be for them to remain in your mind festering and fomenting unrest.
So, I try to allow my mind to brew constructive ideas. This takes longer than mindmapping. I start by writing out ever idea that was in mind with no structure. I usually do this right after I confront something mindboggling. Recently, for example, I was at a heady conference. On the flight home, I went all Faulkner on my ideas, steaming them out.
Then I set those ideas aside. I waited a couple days. Noting when one of those ideas popped up again. At which point, I know that my mind is telling me something. Finally, after I feel ready, I allot good ideas in the hot burner to work on, and then I put less interesting ideas on ice.
You can use my MindBrew tools (pg 1 and pg 2), or you can hand draw them yourself.