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To Think About . . .
If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign? Einstein
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The Scatter Map

I know some people swear by them - though I have hardly ever seen anyone using them to take notes - but I have never been able to get on with Mind Maps, especially for thinking. I find the need to join everything together in a rigid structure branching out from a central point doesn’t fit the way I think, which is far more discursive and with conclusions emerging rather than being arrived at by a logical procedure.

At the time I wrote Get Everything Done and Still Have Time to Play, I developed something which I called a Scatter Map. The basic idea was to scatter thoughts at random across the page and then do any linking, commenting or emphasizing that seemed necessary. There were basically no rules - which is what I like when I’m thinking.

At the top left is the sample scatter map from Get Everything Done (click on the thumbnail to enlarge). For reasons of legibility it is quite a simple one, orginally written on a sheet of A4 paper and then reduced to the size of the book page.

Looking at it now, more than 16 years after I wrote it, I can still understand it exactly. The thoughts, the situation, the feelings, the questions, the answers are all totally fresh in my mind.

I doubt whether that would be the case if I’d written a mind map on the same subject. Come to that, what is the subject? There is no subject. It’s just a collection of more or less random thoughts. Some are independent, some follow on from others, some arose separately but have been linked together.

No doubt if I tried hard enough I could succeed in organizing this as a Mind Map. But it would be much less intelligible to me today, and would probably have meant much less to me at the time.