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Creating Successful Leaders

Tag Archives: Personal organization

Have you ever felt lost amid all the things you want to accomplish or all the tasks you need to do?  Have you ever felt like your brain was so scattered, you couldn’t keep a clear thought in your head or a clear direction. Sometimes, when I’m feeling that way, I make a mind map.

The main objective of a mind map is to take a large project or idea, and break it down into bite-sized chunks so you can deal with it on a more manageable scale. It’s a great way to get all your thoughts onto one piece of paper and see how they fit in with the main idea.

First, think about one main topic.  For instance, “Job Promotion.” Write the main topic in the middle of a large piece of paper.  Then, think about big-picture actions that will support your main topic. These actions should be broad and kept between one and three words long. For this example, you could write: “Networking,” “Major Projects,” “Meetings,” “Update Wardrobe,” etc. Draw lines or arrows connecting your main topic to the supporting topics.

UXL mind map

Then, think about what, specifically, you could do in each area. For instance, under the Networking box, you could write: “Attend weekly happy hour” or “Arrange for coffee with boss” or “Get to know three new people this month.” You can get as specific as you’d like, creating as many branches as are necessary to capture all your ideas.

Mind maps are meant to help you sort out your thoughts and they might seem messy on the surface, but they are a useful tool for getting your ideas out there and seeing how things connect. Once you create your mind map, try focusing on specific areas in order to achieve your goal. If you take on too much, you’ll get nowhere, so start with one or two goals and then create a more specific action plan revolving around each goal.

Here’s a video about how one could use a mind map to plan an “Egyptian Holiday.”

Happy mapping!

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Human hand checking the checklist boxes

I’ll bet you can relate: It’s late evening, you’re starving, you just know that you’re about to be stuck in a god-awful amount of traffic, and the meeting you’re in is running later than you expected. What do you do? Why, you find yourself gazing out the window longingly the same way you did in grade school, just dying for the bell to ring and the day to be over.

It’s moments like these that our desperation to get the heck out of the office can take over, and we end up making the next day worse for ourselves by leaving tasks incomplete.

I know, it’s hard. I struggle with it myself. Sometimes the last place I want to be is the place I need to be, and no truer than when I’m anxious to end a long, hard day of work.

So, I’ve made a little mental checklist that I force myself to follow. I don’t set foot into the parking lot without having first checked everything off. As with anything, it took me a while to get into the habit. But soon, the ritual of it took over, and I found that my drives home became much less stressful, as I no longer worried about things like, “Oh no! I forgot to e-mail so-and-so!” or, “I hope I got that project outline in…I did get the darn thing turned in, right?” What is this end of the day checklist, you ask? Simple, and here it is:

1. Checking up on my co-workers and staff. Are we on the same page? Are we in a good place relationally? Is there any issue I need to address? Never let the sun go down on your anger, the old proverb goes, and boy is that true for maintaining a healthy workplace.

2. Checking off the tasks. Did I get everything done I planned on doing? It sounds like a no-brainer (you may be saying, “Obviously! That’s the whole point of a checklist!”), but here’s the important part: If you did not get everything done as you planned, what are you going to do to best set yourself up tomorrow? Set yourself up for success the next day.

3. Checking out of the workday. Look over your area, organize your desk perhaps, leave on a positive note with your people, and set yourself up for tomorrow. Have you done all that? Good! Now stop thinking about work! Once you set foot outside, you’re no longer allowed to worry about anything you might have missed, neglected, ignored or botched, because you know you went over the checklist. Now you have the rest of the evening to yourself.

Give yourself a pat on the back. And good luck with the traffic.

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