Sunday, January 10, 2010

Map Your Way to Success: Use Mapping for fast learning and visual planning

You might want to forget making lists to spur you into action or to learn new material. Map it! That’s right, get out the old pencil and paper and map out a path to achievement. Your goal or what you need to learn is central to the map – write it prominently and perhaps put a shape around the word(s). Next add the related information, contacts, resources, etc that will help you on your journey. I find deadline dates and dollar figures really keep me on task. Then make the connections between the goal or subject matter and the supporting information. Finally, connect your supporting information. Everything on your map should work in unison, nothing can be self existing or it belongs on a separate, perhaps related, map.

My first project while working for Citigroup was challenging. I had no experience recruiting for an operations center, and I was panicked. Luckily, I found a booklet on Mind Mapping, mapped each of the individual job descriptions and learned them in record time. This visual method greatly accelerated learning each of the jobs, and their connections to adjacent departments and management positions. Consequently, Citigroup was so pleased with my recruiting results that they offered me a second project.

If your motive is planning, mapping gives you the fastest way to the end. Without lots of time for intricate planning, mapping is a fast and visual version of an outline. It can be used for a project, job hunt, business plan, or just to get your thoughts out and see how they line up. This visual planning often leads to discovering resource connections and new paths to success that were not formerly obvious.

Mapping allows you to tell the story of the evolution of your project, or detail all the parts you need to memorize. Your visual story serves to keep you focused on achievement. Hang your map in a place where you cannot ignore it, or keep the components in a notebook and carry it with you. With regular review, you will retain the information easily, and stay focused on the destination. I guarantee this type of visual stimulation will inspire you and hasten learning. Remember, a map is a tool that helps you get somewhere; a list simply reminds you of chores. Follow your map and enjoy your trip!

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