Cupcakes!

Everyone loves cupcakes, but I bet most people don’t spend much time thinking about the “cupcake industry” or the ingredients that make cupcakes possible. However, that’s not the case for Jason at the blog Frugal Dad. In the following infographic he shares a lot of information about cupcakes and their ingredients.

You might not think such a topic would make an interesting story, but the quality of the visual information makes the graphic really fun to explore! Just another example of the power of visual information.

Enjoy! And don’t forget to treat yourself to a cupcake this weekend.

Clearing Out the Clutter

Lately, I have been focused on keeping my room consistently clean, a very daunting task for me.  I am notorious for throwing my clothes on the floor at times (ok, ok, often) after undressing, because I am “too tired” or “too busy” to properly put them away in drawers/hang them up.

Time and time again, I think to myself how much better I would feel if I just got rid of the clutter and mess in my room.  I would be able to move around my room effortlessly and actually be able to access the outfit I would like to wear on a particular day without rummaging through piles of clothes, stressed and frustrated.  There are times, as well, when I forget I even have a certain article of clothing because it may be hiding under my bed!

I am sure that many of you can relate to at least part of my story.  Often, I listen to my peers discuss their dreaded projects to clean their home/office and, I also come across blogs that frequently talk about the benefits of a well-organized/tidy environment.

However, how often do we think about decluttering our minds?  It’s incomprehensible to imagine how much information our brains are retaining, processing, and filtering at any given time.   Even more, this information has endless layers that go as far back to when we were born.  Our brains, although amazing, have to work so tirelessly all the time to contain all these thoughts and at the same time create new ones while analyzing new messages being presented to us.

Most of us try and keep lists and tasks in our heads throughout the day, while at the same time daydreaming about someone or something, communicating, performing our work related duties, reading, writing, and so much more!

How can our minds be efficient and creative when we are bogged down with so much clutter?  How can we have the space in our minds to generate new ideas and expand on and access thoughts that are not at the forefront of our thinking?

The answer:  We cannot.

There is only a limited number of information our brains can retain at one time, so that’s where mind mapping comes in as a way to map out our ideas that are at the forefront, so there is room for more innovative and imaginative thoughts to surface.  Then, you can add the new ideas to the map and continue generating more.  Also, your mind will be able to relax which is vital for productivity and creativity.  If you are overwhelmed with racing thoughts, you will not be as efficient and inventive.

The Power of Visual Information

Mind mapping is a powerful tool in large part because it allows us to organize information visually. Many of our widely-used communication tools are verbal– email, word processors, reports, phone communication– and we often forget the great power of visual communication. As children, we learned to understand the world visually long before we learned to communicate with language.

Mind mapping allows us to use our brain’s powerful visual processing abilities to organize information and solve problems in ways we might never have discovered otherwise.

The other day I came across a chart that truly shows the power of visual information. Inspired by the famous statistician Edward Tufte, Zach Beane at www.xach.com created a method of illustrating the box office runs of the top 25 movies in America for an entire year’s worth of time. You can check out the charts he’s made at www.xach.com/moviecharts/. The following image is from the 2011 chart:

Image

Zach’s chart communicates so much information with a single image. Moving your mouse over one of the “streams” shows the movie title and total box office gross. His choice to use different colors lets you easily see how the performance of each movie changed as the weeks pass– some movies show a slow steady growth over many weeks, while other movies start strong but begin decreasing immediately.

Can you imagine trying to gather all this information from a spreadsheet or a list of numbers? The visual presentation makes the information so much richer and more exciting. Do you have any favorite examples of visual information?

Let your visual imagination go wild while you are using MindMaple and you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.

Procrastination

After reading a post on time management and procrastination recently, I started thinking….  It is always important to be specific when creating mind maps, because listing ambiguous words like “write blog post” means there is still more information that needs to be generated; thus, people will generally put off the task until they feel like coming up with more specifics.   Equally significant, though, is to set appropriate time frames to accomplish tasks.   There is a term called, concentration threshold, which states that if people give themselves too little time to complete a task, they will not do it, because they view it as unrealistic.  In addition, if people give themselves too much time to finish a task, they will procrastinate up until the exact time when they need to start the task to get it done on time.  So, apparently, people do at least have a sense of how long it will realistically take to get tasks done, but do not necessarily allot the appropriate time to get it done.

I think, when creating mind maps, which of course is about being productive and managing time more efficiently, it’s important to put realistic time frames on the maps as well.  MindMaple has a number of great features to help prioritize and set time frames.  For example, there are task icons which have numbers to choose the order of tasks, percentages to show progress, check marks for completed tasks, and more.  Here is an example of a mind map I created.  Happy mapping!!