Making a Mind Map for Decisions

Only a week into the new year and decade and I was feeling overwhelmed. Not good. Numerous ‘opportunities’ were coming my way in addition to the already scheduled commitments and events on my calendar. As I wondered what to do, and not do, confusion started swirling in my head. My thoughts were not linear so I decided to do a mind map.

Litemind has a helpful webpage on simple mind mapping if you are unfamiliar with the mind mapping process:

They define mind mapping this way:

“A mind map is a graphical way to represent ideas and concepts. It is a visual thinking tool that helps structuring information, helping you to better analyze, comprehend, synthesize, recall and generate new ideas.

Just as in every great idea, its power lies in its simplicity.

In a mind map, as opposed to traditional note taking or a linear text, information is structured in a way that resembles much more closely how your brain actually works. Since it is an activity that is both analytical and artistic, it engages your brain in a much, much richer way, helping in all its cognitive functions. And, best of all, it is fun!”

My Mind Mapping Process

When I make a mind map, I give myself freedom to do it differently each time, so mine look different from one another. If you decide to do one, experiment freely and don’t worry about making it look good. In this map I was going through a decision-making, prioritizing process, but you can make a mind map for anything.

For the mind map, put the subject, theme, desire, goal in the middle of the page or two-page spread.

Here you can see I put my desire/prayer/goal (that includes my word for this year: Spirit) in the center of my page. This year I want to discern what to do with my time and focus, being led by the Holy Spirit, not by what I think I ‘should’ do or being dictated by what others think I should do. Because all my options are positive, and a number of them came in a short period of time, I began to feel overwhelmed, that I had too many things to do.

Putting my word and desire at the center helped keep me focused and trusting God to give me wisdom through this decision-making process.

Stepping back to look at my situation and calendar, I asked, “What are the areas of my life that are important to nurture?” Here are the four areas that came to mind: Personal, Family, Lifework, and Community. I added these broad categories to my map and drew lines to the center. Unintentionally it began to look like a tree with these four areas as the big branches, which for me has its own meaning of integrating the various aspect of my life to a center and place of personal growth.

Then I drew a flame using a stencil (, as a symbol of the Holy Spirit and my desire to be led by the Spirit. Metallic gold is one of my colors this year, along with black and white. For me it symbolizes spiritual empowering. I used a Sakura Gelli roll pen that is shiny and doesn’t bleed through the paper. Sakura 57387 3-Piece Gelly Roll Blister Card Metallic Gel Ink Pen Set, Assorted Colors

After writing the categories/topics with a black calligraphy marker Sakura 50319 3-Piece Pigma Blister Card Calligrapher Pen Set, Black, I realized I wanted to color code them, so I did a rough shading outline, using colored pens, assigning each topic/area a color.

I put ‘opportunities’ at the bottom for my next step, which was to list all the commitments, opportunities, things requiring action from me this month.

After putting the word ‘actions’ under ‘opportunities’ I decided to put the month (January) at the top since this map is about decision making during this month. I was wrestling a bit emotionally at this point so I looked up a few verses and listed the references below the month to refer back to them. Feeling more at peace again, I began to make my list of ‘opportunities’ vertically from the bottom of the page as you see here below, you’ll notice I typed the words in. That is not the case in my journal, which is hand-written and not near as neat and structured as shown in the photo. I am not showing my actual list here for reasons you can imagine, but want to show you where I put my list (of 19 things) on the page. My actual list is much more specific, with named projects, events, people etc.

Now I found myself able to take a more objective look at the mind map and my life, which is a big part of this exercise. I added the things to the top categories that are values of mine and important for me to spend time on. These are the sub-branches that attach to the main category. This really helped me put my schedule and life into perspective.

Going back to the ‘opportunities,’  I underlined each opportunity listed at the bottom with the color/s that represented the topic/category/sub-topic the opportunity would fall under.

This prompted me to make a side list of emails to send to people related to the opportunities. I now knew what to ask or say to them and quickly emailed through the list. All but one responded in some way and it was now easier to eliminate some of the opportunities for either another time or altogether. I crossed out the ones I decided not to do with a black pen, and put a question mark above the one without an answer yet.

In this next step I wrote the opportunities I decided to do as sub topics/branches coming out of the big branches above and boxed them with the color codes.

After that I went to my calendar and was not as overwhelmed. Interestingly, throughout the week, I noticed how nuggets of wisdom were brought to me about how to discern what to work on.

The best part about the process and how I’m being led by the Holy Spirit is I feel much freer to say ‘no’ with peace, and to say ‘yes’ with joy, being led by the Spirit…

Basic Mind Map Steps

  1. Put your goal, main topic or subject, desire or focus in the center of a page and circle it
  2. Think of topics or values that relate to your main subject and write or draw them around the central focus. Draw a line connecting each of them to the center focus
  3. For each of the topics written in step 2, repeat the process, writing or drawing sub-topics and connecting them with a line to the topic that is connected to the center focus


Mary Brack, co-facilitator with Bernice Hopper and I for Living Your Word of the Year Facebook group, has her own take on making a mind map at:

Living Your Word 2020 Opportunity!

Bernice Hopper, and Mary Brack, and I share insights through blog posts for creatively living a word of the year. In our Facebook group, we encourage one another by posting questions and prompts to inspire living out a word focus, keeping a journal etc. It is a safe place to ask for prayer and support. If you would like to connect with others in creative ways about living your word, you can ask to join our Living Your Word of the Year 2020 by clicking on the link below.

URL for Facebook group:

URLs for Instagram:  #livingyourword2020




Valerie: (this one :-))

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