How To Clean Your Mental Gutters With Mind-mapping

Running a business doesn’t mean that you have to have it on your brain all the time. Too much work causes a life imbalance, and no matter what living you choose to put your hand to, first and last, you’re still a person with 24 hours in a day who has to sleep, at a minimum, at least seven hours of that to maintain some minimum standard of health. The other seventeen hours, you can choose to fill as you see fit — hopefully in a healthy way.

All work and no rest makes for a sick you, and no business will make up for that. Not only do you have to think about the health of your business, you also have to mind your physical, mental, and emotional health. One very helpful way to attend to all three is to use mind-mapping to help you get out the issues that plague you and address them.

We wrote about mind-mapping years ago in “Mapping For Mental Clarity.” When your mental inbox is over-flowing, mind-mapping essentially helps you clear it out and set a course of action to manage your to-do’s.

Mindmapping can help you:

  • Clear your head by letting you get out everything that’s been weighing heavily on your mind.
  • Generate and capture ideas while brainstorming choices, counter-moves, and possible options.
  • Plot out possible future moves by organizing ideas and passing thoughts that may be the seeds of something good.
  • Plan your actionables so you can get what you want, and get to where you want to go.
  • Plan around a goal and help you plot out the actual steps you need to take to achieve that goal.

Pro-tip: How to Use Mind Maps to Unleash Your Brain’s Creativity and Potential (Melanie Pinola, Lifehacker)

You take of your business, right? You also take care of  your home, and your body. Now if your  mind is a house, mind-mapping is a very respectable way to help clear out your mental gutters, pipes, and crawl-spaces of stuff that can clog them and weigh your brain down. A mind overloaded with thoughts is like a hoarder’s house. There’s no room for growth, no room to move, and all sorts of seedy things can breed in the dark corners. Nobody wants that, but sometimes it’s what happens when you get overload too long. That’s why regular mindmapping sessions can help.

Pro-tip: The Psychological Benefits of Writing Regularly (Gregory Ciotti, Lifehacker)

Mindmapping is the physical capture of mental items. It is messy and organic thinking being put into some sort of understandable order. There is also no one true path to mind-mapping. Everyone has their own way of prioritizing and framing problems to solve them.

If you’re a little confused about the writing as unloading part, there’s a difference between journaling and mind-mapping. If you want to get things out as emotional unloading, journaling is one way to exorcise what’s bugging you. Emotional exorcism via literary means is a time-tested method of releasing thoughts on paper and venting the emotions. If it’s primarily  emotional unloading, then  you can journal first, and then mind-map later.

Pro-tip: Why You Should Keep a Journal (and How to Start Yours) (Alan Henry, Lifehacker)

Mind-mapping is primarily for creating clarity and for problem-solving. As in real-life, this kind of  mental housecleaning involves the following steps:

  • Identification – you take things out and examine them, for usefulness, for purpose, or for just a good airing. Is this useful? Can I store it for when I’ll need it? Why is this here at all?
  • Prioritization — you separate the trash from the recyclables, you clean up and clear out.
  • Action – you arrange things to be neater and more useful, and then get rid of the trash. Then you can work your way down the list of things you need to do to restore order, keep order, or improve  how things are.


Mind-mapping can also help lighten the emotional load, don’t get us wrong. After the initial step of off-loading,  you can then step away for a while to let the emotions bleed away and then examine things from a distance, because that allows you to get a better perspective on things. When you ask yourself why, the reasons that come up can help you get a clearer picture on which to base decisions on:

  • This bothers me because (fill in the blank.)
  • I am bothered by this because I expected something and got something else, or want something specific and instead got this.

Then you can take it further and say:

  • This is what I can do to deal.
  • This is what I can do next so this won’t be a problem again.

Filtering is another step:

  • Which items are ones I can influence and change?
  • Which items are out of my control and therefore I have to address my attitude on?
  • Which items are not that big a deal and I am just venting?

Ordering pulls some structure out of the chaos:

  • There are things I cannot change, yet or ever.
  • There are things I can change.  I have to do this to change them over time.
  • These are things that can be outsourced to someone better equipped to handle them
  • These are things I can only change by myself.


Here’s just one very specific example of problem solving:
Note All the Things You Want to Fix In Your Home With an Annoyance Journal (Patrick Alan, Lifehacker)

A mindmap isn’t static because you aren’t static. You can rework, rewrite and even re-version. It’s a thinking tool that lets you untangle the knotty problems stuffed in your head. It lets you straighten things out in an open space so you can see the snarls and connections, and gently tease them apart.


A mindmap is a tool to get you out of a particularly limiting headspace to an area where you are free to make and see connections you otherwise might be too busy, to stressed, or too focused to pay attention to.


Once you get your bearings in the freedom that space gives you, you can start planning and taking action.  See, a mindmap is a step, but it isn’t the only one— clear your head, choose, take action.

It’s like a recalibration. You check where you are right now, and gauge it against what you want to happen next, or where you want to be — and in between, the mindmap can help you fill in the space between where you are and what you want, so you can take your steps with a clearer head and less baggage.

Think of it like this. Have you ever played with those children’s activity books when you were a kid? How about connect the dots? What about fill in the blanks? What about spot-the-difference between two seemingly identical pictures? And then the thing where you try to trace your way out of a maze?

Mind-mapping includes all of the mechanics of these childhood activities. Connecting the dots lets you see the outline of a bigger picture. Fill in the blanks completes a sentence. Spot the difference practices discernment and observation skills. Tracing gets you out of the maze.

You use your experience, your forecasting skills, your knowledge and imagination, to create a picture and frame it with your thoughts on paper — or onscreen, if that’s how you do it. Check out the links below for ideas.

The Best Mind Mapping Software of 2017 (Evan Koblentz, PC Mag Asia)
Provides a comparison of 10 different mind-mapping softwares and individual reviews for each one.
8 Free Mind Map Tools & How to Best Use Them (Saikat Basue, MakeUseOf)
A run-through of 8 mind-mapping software

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