Latest Update: added link to the basic A4 nowMap templates.
What Is It?
A simple organisation tool – just a single sheet of paper. Maybe you like the idea of being a bit more together, of knowing what you’re up to at any point, but you don’t feel the need for a whole system to keep you organised.
Or, maybe you actually do GTD, and just feel like you’re lacking a quick at-a-glance overview of what’s on your plate now.
The nowMap is a simple idea – make a mindmap of all the things that you’re working on or are on your mind at the moment, just on one sheet. If you need to do a load of brainstorming about one of them, take it to another sheet, with just a note on the first to point you there.
Pics missing – sorry.
If you’re already familiar with the idea of mindmapping, you could probably stop reading right here, and work it all out ok for yourself. If not, or you just want a bit more detail, keep reading…
Drawing Your Own
Take a sheet of A4 or Letter paper, landscape format (wide, not tall), and draw a margin on the right, about an inch in. Use a ruler if you like, but it doesn’t matter. This is rough and ready stuff. Draw another margin on the left, this time a bit wider.
See the area in the middle? Should be roughly square, and it should take up most of the sheet. That’s the area for the actual nowMap. We’ll come to that in a moment.
The right hand margin is just for ‘meta’ information – anything about this sheet. Start with a beginning date, and when you’re done with this sheet, either bin it, or stick an end date on it and file it. Other than that, you could use this bit for emergency overflow, or a bit of scratch space (jotting down a phone number you don’t have anywhere else for, or whatever) or you can make a couple of notes on there when you’ve finished with the sheet.
The left hand margin is for any little bits that don’t fit in with anything else. A little task you realise you have to do, but that doesn’t fit in with anything you can mindmap. So you just add it here. If it’s an action you need to do, stick a circle next to it so you can put an ‘X’ in it when it’s complete – or even just cross it out.
I’ll make a few of these available – feel free to post in the comments if there’s any sizes that would be useful that I’ve not covered…
- Plain A4 – the one you’re most likely to want – just a nowMap, on a full sheet of A4, with no trimmings. Available with the main section either plain or squared.
- D*I*Y Planner Forms – yes, I’ll be doing some in formats that will fit in a D*I*Y Planner, to go with all the bits you get from Doug’s excellent D*I*Y Planner site. All this will really mean is leaving space for the holes, and doing A4, A5 and ‘Classic’ sizes.
- Half A4 – this couples an A5 nowMap form with some columns for notes and wins at the top – may be more useful if you’re not too busy.
The main section of the sheet is the actual nowMap. On here, start noting down anything you have on your mind at the moment. Could be a project you’re working on for business, could be Christmas approaching (not for a while yet), or it could be that you need to get some work done on your car. Just note anything you can think of down there, but as briefly as you can – or you’ll run out of space. Keep them spread out as much as you can.
Draw a box around each one. Now you have the beginnings of a mindmap.
Any items that you have tasks you need to do for, just write the tasks around them, and join them to their subject with a little line. If you’ve got stuff elsewhere that you need to relate to the thing, just make a note of that in the same way – maybe a note that you’ve brainstormed about it on another sheet, or that there’s notes about this on page 42 of your notebook.
Once you’ve done this, you should have a nice visual overview of all the things that are on your mind. Keep it up to date.
As you run out of space, you need to copy over all the things that are still current, and create a new nowMap sheet.
Alternatively, you could mark it all up in pencil, and just erase things as they stop being relevant.
The advantage of re-writing it all regularly is that it makes you review everything, and decide if you really are still dealing with that thing. The advantage of using pencil and erasing as you go is that you don’t have to rewrite the whole thing regularly.
It’s Too Small!
I hear that a lot.
What? Oh, sorry.
Use a bigger sheet of paper, then, you fool. Simple, really. Actually, if you’re a fairly busy person, this might be way under-powered as a system. You might get some value from the idea if you stick to only including really top-level things, but it might just not be enough for you. Go for
Too Much Rewriting
Then use pencil, and erase as things stop being active.
I Want to Do This in my Moleskine
Yep, me to. Works fine in a large
What About ‘Waiting For’ Items? ‘Agendas’?
They’re not really covered – many things aren’t. This isn’t intended to be a complete system. It’s just a way of keeping a quick overview of what’s on your mind. If you keep this in front of you, you can use it to make sure you don’t forget anything important.
If you’re lucky enough to have a nice quiet life, though, it might be all the organising you need.