Mind Mapping and Personal Planning

I found myself this weekend at a juncture where the majority of my time was mapping out a multiplicity of things–from personal planning to discipleship investments to book proposals. Rarely do I mention mind mapping on Twitter that I do not get several folks asking about what program(s) I use and how I utilize them.  I’m sure there’s more of a science to them than what I employ, but I nevertheless have greatly benefited from the mental exercises of visual information dumping and creative brainstorming.

Last weekend, I posted a twitpic with this status update about some personal planning I’ve been doing lately. I use iThoughtsHD for my iPad to do all my mind mapping. Currently, I have approximately 40 mind maps (going back almost a year).  The cool thing about iThoughtsHD is that you can export the maps anywhere, including email (PDF), camera roll, dropbox, cloud, or over various apps and devices.

Personal Planning

I just recently completed some major projects, including 2012 Band of Bloggers, South Florida Regional Training Event for PLNTD, and a major relocation (and replanting) of Grace Baptist. To bring clarify, focus, alignment, and clear directives, I use mind mapping as a means of untangling the web of thoughts that exist in my brain.

The four primary areas I now employ for planning my personal life are (in Baptist alliterative style):

1. Renewal – what I need for vital spiritual health (prayer, Word, Gospel, meditation, etc.)

2. Rhythms – disciplines I employ on a regular basis (reading, writing, exercising, discipling)

3. Roles – priorities that bring balance, accountability, and filters for how I spend my time, energy, etc.

4. Responsibilities – primary areas where I use my gifts and abilities in ministry

What I’ve come to find is that everyday we live, all four aspects of personal planning should intentionally forming how I spend my day and week.  Obviously, there is a lot of overlap.  The point of this exercise is to be rigorously intentional to invest my life well in the areas God deems most important and to conform my life according to God’s revealed will for my life. A life well lived necessarily includes a day well ordered.  Roles dictates my priorities. Responsibilities govern the stewardship of my time, energy, and gifts. Rhythms are incorporated disciplines to leverage the margin in my life. And renewal is all about “keeping the heart” and stoking the flame of affections for God, His glory, His people, and His mission.

D0 you have an approach for planning your personal life and ordered your day? Do you use any tools such as mind mapping apps or other means of accomplishing your goals?  I’d love to hear them!

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8 Comments on “Mind Mapping and Personal Planning”


  1. Thanks for this Tim. I have heard about Mind Mapping, but never used it, or done it. I think it would be so very helpful for me. What resources can you point me towards anything that would help me get an overview and better understanding of the process and goals.

    Thanks man!


  2. […] Mind Mapping & Personal Planning Tim Brister says he focuses on four primary areas for planning his personal life: Renewal, Rhythms, Roles, Responsibilities. […]

  3. Noah Lomax Says:

    Love the post! I’m a regular mind mapper myself! On my computer I use FreeMind and just downloaded MindJet for my iPad. How did you pick iThoughts over it’s free brother? Just curious if I should switch!

  4. Jason Wright Says:

    This was really helpful Tim. I need to get in the practice of mapping out my responsibilities and then comparing that to how I am actually prioritizing them in practice. Good discipline to get in to. Thanks!


  5. This is very helpful. Would love to see how you’ve used it on other projects if you are up for it.

  6. John Says:

    Great post. Looks like something I could use. Any suggestions for those of us without an iPad?


  7. I need to check that out too.
    I have taken the personality test, Strengths Finder 2.0, by the Gallop organization twice now. Once for a church plant.
    “Connectedness”, is my strongest trait. I connect the dots from a30,000 foot view. When I explain things I often leave out information most people need for my message to make sense.
    I think I need to hand off the message to others who can bring it down to Earth.
    The whole area of understanding who we are and our differing gifts is an area Paul endorsed with vigor.
    Thanks for sharing some tips on how to become wiser in that regard.
    C.C.T.


  8. […] Mind Mapping and Personal Planning (timmybrister.com) […]


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