I originally wrote this for a guest post… but it’s been collecting dust in my Scrivener files 🙂 so today on Artist Strong I want to showcase to you HOW I use mind-mapping for my business and creativity. I use it to brainstorm ideas, but more importantly, I use mind-mapping to create an achievable goals list. I’m more productive for these lists and the maps actually help me create my to-do lists so I have small achievable to-dos every day that build towards my larger goals.

My background in the arts led me to Mind Mapping; it’s a natural outlet for people who are visual learners. I can’t remember exactly my first use of Mind Mapping, but I remember educational pedagogy that suggested we try to reach as many kinds of learners as possible. I also distinctly remember this lovely librarian named Maggie who gave me Mind Map templates for my students to brainstorm ideas for the research they had to conduct. Since she gave us those templates, I can’t remember a time when I haven’t used Mind Maps!

Mind-Mapping is a natural brainstorming outlet for people who are visual learners. (Click to Tweet)

In terms of my personal use of mind mapping I’ve gone back and forth between old school paper and pencil and Mind Mapping software. I’ve realized digital alone does not work for me; it comes back to my artist background I’m sure: it seems to relate to the processing speed of my brain and the pace of putting pencil to sketchbook paper. What I have found is that doing a beginners brainstorm (Mind Map) by hand sets me up for my digital one, where I can flesh out my ideas in greater detail. *Insert your software tool here* is useful for me at that stage of my idea development. I love the many different styles of maps you can choose from, which can foster my brainstorms.

I have two “spaces” with which I regularly use mind mapping: (1) goal-setting and (2) developing projects for Artist Strong.

Using Mindmaps for Goal-Setting | Artist Strong

This is my brainstorm for The Art Detox, the visual arts course for creative play I’m launching in December/January. 🙂


I tend to have a 6 month and 1 year goal setting system. I do my one year brainstorm first and map out the different things I plan to achieve in a year’s time. This can be anything from personal life to professional life. My brain doesn’t work in a linear fashion, which is why I like mapping. I can throw out everything onto paper or on my computer and arrange it with greater reflection and purpose once my “brain dump” is complete.

Once this map is done, I keep it close in a sketchbook I carry with me. Once the year long items are identified, I use the 6 month goals map to get into the nitty gritty: what do I need to achieve to complete my yearly goals? When my 6 month map is complete it becomes a task list where I cross off everything as I finish it. My maps are giant checklists.

Developing Content for Artist Strong

Currently I’m building my first major ecourse for Artist Strong. It’s called The Art Detox, and is an integral part of my mission: I create spaces for adults to engage in their creative interests. This is entirely based in the visual arts and will have art skill tutorials, guided assignments and a private members only forum for students to share their work in a safe space. I can’t wait for it to go live!

Using Mindmaps for Goal-Setting | Artist Strong

This is how my map looks after I transfer my written one to a software program like FreeMind or iMindMap7. I don’t add a lot of visuals because this map isn’t about reinforcing my learning: it becomes my to-do list!

Mind Mapping has been integral to the develop of this course. I start first, as I mentioned above, with a handwritten map that outlines the first ideas that come to mind. Once this is done, I work in iMindMap7 or FreeMind to produce a much more developed map that breaks down the first one into greater detail, even into specific tasks. My maps are living resources for me, they change as I progress through the tasks. Sometimes I get new ideas that become a new branch as I’m working. Once something is completed on the map I make note of it (for example: highlight, bold, change color, etc.). I get a sense of achievement from crossing off some of my “to do” list and know clearly what is left for me to work on.

Mind-mapping can be an easy tool to develop your creative project. (Click to Tweet)

Having these detailed Mind Maps for references definitely helps me stay on track with my projects. I don’t work on just one thing at a time, so when I jump between these projects it can get confusing. All I have to do is open one of my Mind Maps and I know what I’ve completed, and what I have left to do to create something like The Art Detox. I am an achievement oriented individual, so creating maps that act as my goals list as well as my “to-do” lists works to my strengths.

BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: What do you want to accomplish in the next 6 months as a creative? Brainstorm a Mind Map list. What specific tasks will help you achieve each goal? Add branches to each item on your map that list these tasks. Post it in your studio/work space. And tell me about your goals below!

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