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Guest Post – How To Build A ‘Genius Mechanism’ With MindManager

thumbnailI can imagine the question going through your mind right now is, ‘what in the world is a Genius Mechanism?’

Well, despite its name, it’s not a physical thing, it’s not a recently unearthed discovery from the ancient past, and it’s not a genetic trait that only a few people possess.

So, what is it?

In a nutshell, a Genius Mechanism is a simple, ever-growing, and incredibly useful mind map that is built using a system to collect and review information about a topic, any topic, that you want to learn and master.

Now, I know that’s a mouthful, and maybe not that easy to picture in your mind right away, but in moment, it’ll become clearer to you when I reveal how to create a Genius Mechanism, step-by-step, from scratch. It’s simple, but so awesomely powerful! But first, I’d like to discuss with you some reasons why the ‘system’ you and 98% of the population are probably using right now is, well, so ungenius-like.

Are You Using The Chaos Contraption?

Does this sound like your current method of collecting information:

  • When you read a book, do you underline points, write things in the margin, or maybe dog-ear pages you want to reference?
  • When you attend a seminar, or some other learning event, do you end up with pages and pages of notes that get filed away once you get back home or to the office?
  • When you surf the Web, and you discover some useful information, do you bookmark the page so you can return to it later?

Let me ask you a question: are you familiar with the word chaos?

Well, if you answered yes to most of the questions above, I would say you’re not only familiar with it, but you live it regularly. Yikes!

Here’s what I mean…

If you do a quick search on Google for the meaning of chaos, you’ll find a definition that reads, “a state of extreme confusion and disorder.”

In context of what we’re discussing here, would it be fair to say that all this information you have collected is largely disordered, with pieces over here, and bits over there? As a result, are you really benefiting from it, or do you look at your bookshelf, notebooks, and browser bookmarks and feel a sense of overwhelm and confusion from time-to-time? Especially when you realize that you’re not putting to good use the many, many useful things you’ve learned in the past?

It’s not your fault, really. Unfortunately and ironically, this disjointed, chaotic approach to learning is what most of us were taught in school. But if you want better results for the time you spend learning, you’re going to have to do things a little differently.

The key to changing this nightmare is simple, you need to begin centralizing your collection and organization of information.

Let me show you how to do this; let me show you how to flip the switch and quickly go from chaos to genius.

Introducing The Genius Mechanism

In reality, a Genius Mechanism is the result of two important elements: it’s part mind map, and part mindset. The mind map is the collection and organizing tool that you’re probably familiar with (MindManager), while the mindset is something that is likely new to you.

To help you understand how these two elements come together, let’s build a simple Genius Mechanism right now, based on a fun topic, like owning a dog.

We’ll start by doing a few things you’re probably familiar with doing already. We’ll begin a new mind map in MindManager, save it as Guide To Dogs.mmap, and at the center map, we’ll enter Guide To Dogs, which represents the core idea or topic of this Genius Mechanism:

The next step is to do some simple brainstorming, and add some branches off the central topic that represent some of the major categories of information you think you’ll come across as you continue to build this Genius Mechanism:

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You’ll see that some of the initial branches/categories I’ve added include:

  • Choosing
  • General Care
  • Living With
  • Training & Behavior
  • Health
  • Grooming

It’s not important if these aren’t perfect right off the bat. MindManager allows you to easily add, delete, and rearrange them in the future, as needed. All you need initially is a good foundation.

Building Your Genius Mechanism – The Mindset

I’m going to assume that what we’ve done so far isn’t really that new, or earth-shattering to you, especially if you’re an experienced MindManager user. That’s OK, because as I mentioned earlier, the most important part of this process that you need to learn is the mindset.

Here’s what I mean…

Now that you have the basic structure of your Genius Mechanism in place, as you consume information about owning a dog, no matter what the source (books, articles, seminars, etc.) while you can still underline and take notes, your objective should ALWAYS be to recognize and capture any new ideas you discover and add them to your Genius Mechanism mind map about that topic as soon as you can.

The days of underline things, taking notes, and bookmarking Web pages, and then forgetting about them, are over!

From now on, you’re not just casually consuming information, but you’re consciously looking for new thoughts and ideas, and thinking about how to capture them in a short, concise little nugget. Then, it’s off to add them to your mind map.

Let me give you an example.

I just read an article about taking a dog to a dog park and it recommended that I get my dog through the entrance as quickly as possible, because dog park entrances tend to be a prime location for dog fights. Who knew, right?

When I think about this bit of info, especially in relation to my Owning A Dog Genius Mechanism, I realize that this has to do with living with a dog. So I open my mind map file, find the Living With branch, and decide a sub-branch of At The Dog Park would be a good idea, so I add it:

screen2

Next, I select this new branch, open the Notes section, and begin a new bulleted list, adding this new thing I’ve learned. I keep it short and sweet:

screen3

Now, anytime I learn something new about going to the dog park, I simply add a new bullet point. Or, if I learn something about nail trimming, I’ll add a sub-branch called Nail Trimming to the main Grooming branch, and begin a new bulleted list there:

screen4

In this case, I prefer using Notes with bullet points as opposed to more sub-branches because they keep the overall map uncluttered. This way, you can quickly glance at it without being overwhelmed with information, yet click the branch of your choice to review what notes you’ve captured so far.

What you DON’T want to do in this process is copy and paste entire articles or large chunks of paragraphs. You want to keep things simple and concise within a bulleted list. This is a must!

Experiencing The Benefits Of Your Genius Mechanism

Every time you discover a new piece of information to add to your Genius Mechanism, you begin to experience the benefits of having and building it:

  • Instead of mindlessly underlining stuff in a book, writing notes, or bookmarking pages online, you begin to collect information and specific ideas with a well-defined purpose in mind – that of adding it to your mind map.
  • You pause and think about how that new information fits into the ‘bigger picture’ of what you already know – you have to do this in order to know where to plug it into your Genius Mechanism. This simple act is one of the more powerful aspects to this system.
  • Upon opening your Genius Mechanism (mind map file) to add the new information, you instantly see everything you’ve already collected and how it all fits together – it’s like a quick review that you don’t even realize most of the time.
  • The act of manually adding the new information to your Genius Mechanism further burns it into your brain, making it easier to remember and use.

Yes, creating a Genius Mechanism takes a little more effort than what you might be used to, but think about this: is your goal to simply have a large collection of underlined books, notes, etc. all over the place that you can reference at some time in the future, or are you more interested in getting real results from what you learn?

I believe that most people would get 10 times greater results if they spent less time constantly consuming more and more information (as if that’s going to make them smarter), and spent more time doing something useful and purposeful with what they’ve already learned and know (like capturing and organizing it). In other words, choosing quality learning over quantity learning.

On a final note, you’ll notice that this is a slightly different approach than just creating a mind map from a single book or seminar. It’s my opinion that it’s better to have a single, growing, central mind map about a topic that you can regularly add knowledge to, than it is to create separate mind maps of single sources of information, like a book or seminar. in other words, instead of creating a mind map for a book on giving presentations, create a mind map about presentations and add useful ideas from that book to it, along with any other new things you learn about giving presentations in the future. Once again, it’s about choosing quality (a single resource) over quantity (many resources).

So, start your own collection of Genius Mechanisms, beginning today. In just a very short time, I think you’ll be amazed at how much smarter you’ve become! 🙂

Derek Franklin is a best-selling author, copywriter, consultant, and all-around creative thinker. In addition to using MindManager, Derek has discovered a simple, but effective system for getting things done. Visit the Action Machine page, were he reveals the 3-step process you can begin using immediately to start taking massive action every single day.