X Marks the Thought
I started college when I was 13. My age and situation pretty much guaranteed stratospheric self-esteem levels. Not for long, though. The honeymoon ended quickly for all kinds of reasons, most of them inspired by the middle school I'd just left. I'd loved the quirky little hippie academy. We were taught that everybody is special and worthwhile, which kept my newly-collegiate ego from getting out of control for long. I also realized that the days I'd spent singing songs and talking about my feelings didn't prepare me for sitting in an actual classroom. I went from elated to terrified within my first hour as a freshman. My test-taking skills were good enough to get me enrolled at Saint Petersburg Junior College, but the realization that I did not know how to take notes, read a syllabus, or write an outline hit me hard. Unless my future grades were based on my knowledge of the lyrics to If I had a Hammer, I was doomed. Fortunately, I'd signed up for a class called College Survival. For most students, it was an easy-A elective. For me, it was transformational. Along with the study skills that would carry me through the rest of my academic career, College Survival gave me a tool that has shaped and empowered my thought and work in perpetuity. College Survival taught me how to make a Mind Map.
Mind Mapping is a technique that I use for brainstorming, learning, and for every Sunday lesson I've ever given. It's liberating and empowering, and I can't recommend it highly enough. Rather than forcing your brain to work around an external format, Mind Mapping mimics the way you think. Like all good tools, once you learn the technique it gets out of the way and you can stay in the idea space.
There are lots of great tutorials out there (here is a good place to start), but the master work on the subject, the one that made the biggest impact on me, is The Mind Map Book. Over the years I've purchased and given away at least a dozen copies. Give it a try; you'll be glad you did.
There are no accidents in the universe, and we're all in this together. The easier it is for you to express your inspiration, the better off we all are.