In the regular attempt to show my work and be transparent about the imperfect and messy nature of creation, here’s a peek into my planning for our new staff kickoff this weekend.

We will spend four hours on Sunday brainwashing our new staff about our mission and values and the way we do our work. And we will begin getting to know each other and begin building a sense of community. I’ve done this kind of event many times, and it’s one of my favorite things to do every year.

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I went to the big whiteboard in my office (the bigger the whiteboard the more room for possibilities, right?) to draft out the agenda and got stuck right away. I know in general what we’re going to do, but I was trying to assign start times to each part of the agenda. So, I just stared blankly for a while. Then, I remembered that a linear approach regularly stymies me, and I erased what I had and started over with a mind map. Mind maps allow you to ditch lists and hierarchies and let ideas flow more freely, unconstrained by any external sense of order.

Once I started over on my agenda by mind-mapping it first, the ideas came quickly and easily, and possibilities I hadn’t considered before suddenly appeared. And once the ideas were all out there and easy to visualize, I could then begin putting the ideas into some order.

If you’re stuck planning a project or an event or a night out, even, try mind-mapping it. Go crazy, with no restraints on the ideas. This method can help you see connections and possibilities that a conventional outline or list might never lead you to.