The power of sticky notes

stickiesWhen a  team asks me to join in a brainstorming session, and the first thing I see is someone with a notepad trying to capture all their thoughts, I always find a way to have them change to sticky notes and a large wall space. Why?
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How to break writer’s block – the conclusion

I promised a follow-up blog post about the writer who was suffering from writer’s block. Today, the conclusion of our story.

“Jay’s” piece went through a 3-level approval process, yet escaped with very minimal changes from the reviewers!

Her biggest challenge was in reducing word count! Remember that her initial problem was just getting started!

Her second challenge was selecting a title. Remember that the title was the piece she was initially stuck on. Our writer’s block breaking tactic allowed her to skip the title, get started on the content, and come back to the title later in the process. (NOTE: seldom do I start with a title or working headline. I also save my introductory paragraphs until the end, after I’ve developed my major points and conclusion. Only then, do I go back and write the opening paragraph. Think of that writing strategy for a moment, how else will I know where I’m going until I’ve gotten there first? I’ll wait for you to process that.)

I read her final piece, which listed three challenges and identified the strategies to overcome each challenge. The piece flowed, displayed a logical organization, and read with a tight writing style. Its final title made sense and captured the flavor of the full content.

In summary, Jay’s final piece came in at 3 pages, about 37 paragraphs, with a word count of 1,440 words.

Success story!

Related posts:

How to break writer’s block – Part 2

Are you curious how our writer did on her writer’s block problem? Yesterday, I posted a blog entry on a writer (whom I’ll call “Jay”) facing writer’s block and impending deadlines.

Today, I checked in with Jay and learned the first draft went out to a first reviewer, at a whoppin’ 1,300 word count! Yeah, I’d say the block was broken.

jay's mindmap

jay's mindmap

Jay appreciated the following tips from our brainstorming and mindmapping session. Jay shared that before our session:

“I was overwhelmed on what was important and where to start. During our session, I was able to spit out a lot of topics and then organize afterwards…By seeing the topics in front of me instead of floating around in my head…it made it easier to focus and prioritize the information.”

So, stay tuned for a follow-up post on Jay’s final production piece, as the deadline to production approaches.

How to break writer’s block – Part 1

A fellow writer just mentioned getting stuck in writer’s block. It happens to all of us. So, I spent 10 minutes helping the writer (whom I’ll call “Jay”) overcome writer’s block. How?

I had Jay list the obstacles on sticky notes. “What is keeping me from crossing that divide between here and the finished product?”

why Jay's stuck

why Jay's stuck

Once Jay saw them written, he/she either (a) knew that it was real and had a plan to overcome it or (b) realized it wasn’t a real obstacle after all.

With that out of the way, I had Jay mindmap the written project. In ten minutes, we had an outline of four key points and the four solutions, an intro, and an ending.

Jay had been stuck on the headline. So we put “headline” as a mindmap topic and left it blank for now.

I’ll write a follow-up post on Jay’s progress in a few days. Stay tuned.

Tips n Tricks to Power Your Next Project

Good friend and Mind Manager power user Dina Henry-Scott, Sr. Project Manager, was recently featured in Mindjet’s user vignettes.

When asked to complete the phrase “I use MindManager to…” her reply was:

… Plan projects, set agendas & take notes at meetings, brainstorm new ideas for Podcast topics, provide show notes to my Podcast interview guests, map out my life goals, take notes for classes, clear my mind and get my thoughts down on paper … you name it, I pretty much use MindManager to do it.

Brainstorming, thinking, note-taking, idea-capturing, thought-linking, visualization…the list is endless. Apply the practice today and discover the benefits as your team leaps a level in creativity, efficiency, and productivity.

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10 ways to be an email rookie

This is going back in time to a post on JWebb’s LoveYourUsers blog, where she had posted a cleverly-written piece about her love-hate relationship with email.

It reminded me of a mindmap I generated after receiving yet another junk email… Continue reading

Do you run brainstorming sessions like futbol or paintball?

Why do some creative teams run brainstorming sessions like futbol instead of paintball?


I first thought of this analogy while channel surfing between a futbol match and a paintball game on TV. Both were at world-class competitive levels. In both sports, you could argue that, to win, you must score more goals than the other team.

Surfing to the futbol match, the score was 0-0. On the paintball channel, a quick win, I saw hundreds of paintball splats all over the field (missed shots), and several shots that hit the intended targets, wiping out the opposing team of seven players. Back at futbol, the score was still 0-0.

So how does this relate to brainstorming?

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Mind your Maps (or is it: Map your Mind?)

What is the first application open on your PC? Mine is not one of the usual suspects (Infernal Exploder, MS Weird, LookOut, Exile, PowerPointless).

It’s MindManager by Mindjet. I mind map everything. My work demands that I brainstorm, analyze, organize, re-arrange, outline, categorize, or present information. MindManager does all of that.

With this tool I can: Continue reading

Beyond Crayons

To take mind mapping beyond personal use and integrate it into business, collaboration, and project productivity, see Beyond Crayons by Nick Duffill. Man, he’s taken mindmapping with MindManager to some interestingly advanced levels.

I have some success stories, but he’s really on the ball. Read his two part series “Putting an edge on your maps.”


Most information is not linearly related. 

Now check out LivePlasma‘s visual search engine, cleverly connecting music, artists, and movies in visual relationships.

Suppose you enjoy Darlene Zschech, Hillsongs. What other artists might you connect with?

…another example of non-linear thinking.