TheBrain Blog

Shelley Hayduk
Apr 13, 2008

Must Create Thoughts for Your Brain

Your Brain is only as good as the Thoughts inside it. Here is a listing of the most useful Thoughts for your Brain that can take your mind mapping into a whole new direction, capturing more aspects of your life for greater insight and instant recall.

1. Your Home Thought

Okay, every brain has one. But it’s only fitting to mention this Thought because your Home Thought is where everything starts and other Thoughts flow from. As a new user your home Thought is the start of your Brain. If it is a Brain about you, your home Thought should be your name. If your Brain is topic specific the subject of your Brain should be your home Thought. Now you can start creating “child thoughts” under this Thought. (To learn more about getting started, read my getting started post.)

2. Future Trends Thought

Whether you’re investing in the stock market or planning your next business trip, if we could predict the future, we’d all be very successful. Sometimes wrapping our heads around new ideas and trends can be overwhelming. Moreover, spotting trends is a matter of aggregating the right information intelligently. This is what PersonalBrain is designed for. You can gain a lot of clarity and insight by adding this Thought into your Brain and attending to it whenever you recognize a trend that is relevant to your life. For example: If you are in the technology industry your “Future Trends” Thought might have Thoughts under it about the latest hardware R&D and maybe evolving OS trends. If you are in Real Estate, your future trends could include Thoughts on new government regulations and tracking foreclosures. And if you are a parent, your future trends might include the latest in childcare techniques.

Often we bookmark cool new Web sites or news articles, but they end up lost in our huge list of favorites and cannot be interconnected. Because of PersonalBrain’s ability to have one Thought effectively linked and organized under many different Thoughts you can map out networks of products and markets in multiple dimensions that will leave your spreadsheets and bookmarks in the dust.

Future Trends

3. Family and Significant Others Thought

Okay, you may get enough of your family members each day but when its time to remember that special something you really don’t want to be the person who forgets! This is why having a Thought for each significant person in your life is just plain smart. Why? Clicking on the in-laws and seeing their connection to bowling will remind you to get them those passes for Christmas and a link to your mother’s favorite author from Oprah’s book of the month club will be a very helpful reminder around Mother’s Day.

This section is a must for avid online shoppers. Often you will run across something on Amazon that is perfect for your BFF but it’s not her birthday…but it will be sooner than you think. Then when that magical occasion comes rolling around, you can dazzle them with that perfect gift or conversation topic. Just activate Mom’s Thought and your plethora of ideas and online gifts is right there.

Of course, having Thoughts for people in your life goes beyond tracking gifts. You can also use this area of your Brain to track other information about them, such as when they like to vacation, who they know well, and important information you might need to reference someday such as their social security number or the name of their doctor or lawyer.

Finally, linking the important people in your life up to their various interests and making connections between them to other people might just help you understand them a little bit better.

4. “Most Active Projects” Thought

You probably have two or three hot projects that you’re working on that might be in a different section of your Brain or within different functions in your organization. By linking them under your “Most Active Projects” Thought you get an overview and gain a sense of control by seeing everything that you are currently working on. Create a Thought for the “Most Active Projects” and link all your top projects under this Thought. Once they are complete unlink them. This Thought will serve as your “visual to do area” from which you can access all relevant work activity.

Active Projects

5. Daily To Dos Thought

This is a single Thought that you can activate that lists all your tasks for the day. It’s like your digital scratch pad. This is a more free form way of organizing your day. Another approach to tasks, if you are into more task specific planning, is to take advantage of PersonalBrain Pro’s built-in calendar where you can create events with specific dates that are linked to Thoughts.

6. New Ideas and Goals Thought

A new idea is one of the most important Thoughts that you can capture. You might be busy working on something else or on a conference call when lightening strikes you. This is exactly the moment when PersonalBrain becomes your digital memory. Create a Thought for that idea and add a couple of notes, and you’ve captured it before it’s forgotten. Having an actual Thought called “New Ideas” gives you a place to easily add things. Eventually these ideas might be moved or linked under other Thoughts like online sales, new product development etc. But this Thought officially invites and makes it easy to add in a quick idea without necessarily thinking about where you want to put it for the long haul.

Goals are also very important Thoughts whether you’re using your Brain for project management or to organize your Aunt and Uncle’s 50th anniversary party. Since your Brain is all about you, putting some personal goals in can really help you define your own success and give you an area to plan for your future dreams. Once you’ve created your “Goals” Thought you can create some child Thoughts that include steps to achieving these goals and add in any research that is required under this Thought to get to where you need to go.

Buy a House

7. “Learning or Training” Thought

This Thought marks the start of everything that you are going to learn. If you are creating a Brain for your company Intranet this Thought can parent other Thoughts that outline key standard operating procedures and hot issues that new employees may not be aware of. On a personal level you can use this Thought to add Thoughts on subjects that you are currently learning or want to know more about. This can be anything from keeping track of your piano lessons, courses that you might be considering enrolling in at your local college, to more in depth mind mappings on new health issues and medical procedures you need to follow.

8. “Lessons Learned” Thought

This is your lessons learned area. I know you might want to stay positive but the best way we can improve as individuals is to learn from our mistakes. Sometimes in our daily execution of tasks things can go amiss. This Thought and section of your Brain is absolutely critical for corporate brains where teams of people have undertaken new projects that other colleagues can learn from. But individuals can track this too with great results! For instance, you’ve just presented to a very important prospective client and let’s just say the meeting could have gone smoother. Adding some of the problems and difficulties experienced under this Thought will be cathartic and free your mind to move on to your next big win. But moreover, you will have a Thought that you can access to help debrief to your team about ways to improve your presentation and to access important details that might otherwise be lost in the shuffle of your day.

9. My Team Thought

Thoughts for all your colleagues can get you on the fast track to more effective personal interactions and meetings. If you are waiting for a colleague for certain deliverables like new graphics, new approvals, etc, you can jot this down in your notes section under their name. This way if they call or pop by your office you can instant activate their Thought and be sure that you have reminded them about everything you need. You can drag and drop their contact information from Outlook, link to their Facebook page or just jot down their number in PersonalBrain notes section! Whenever I work with any of our remote employees I instant activate them in my Brain to get their phone extension to give them a ring and see what projects I need updates on. This ensures that my calls are 100% productive with them.

Team Thought

10. My Competitors Thought

In your business or product development section knowing what your competition is up to can help you make valuable decisions. PersonalBrain is ideal for aggregating information on hot products, competing strategies, and the strengths and weaknesses of your competition. For example, in product analysis, often relationships between product genres will cross various categories. This is why product managers often do product matrixes. However, a chart or spreadsheet cell can’t be visually navigated or dynamically rearranged the way PersonalBrain can. Even traditional mind mapping software has severe limitations here. A product or feature might fit under multiple concepts and ideas, crossing genres so to speak. (The good ones usually do.) This can only be visualized associatively with one Thought having multiple parents and connections. With PersonalBrain the full context is captured and powerful analysis is enabled with a few connections.

Competitive Analysis

11. Your Special Interest

Whether it’s baseball, antiquing, or your pet parrot, adding a Thought on your latest preoccupation or hobby is very satisfying. You can use TheBrain’s search Web feature with your favorite search engine to find the best web sites on your hobby. Then drag and drop links into your Brain. Special interests are even more special when you can instant activate them on a moment’s notice or link to your buddy that you are going to the game with. You might be surprised at how quickly you can develop a personal resource on your favorite team or animal that becomes invaluable to you as you pursue your passion. Don’t forget to copy and paste Thought icons to your hobby Thoughts for extra pizzazz. This is just plain fun!


12. Travel Thought

We live in a global village of cites and countries. With summer right around the corner it’s time to think travel. Even if you’re not a jetsetter this section is invaluable to anyone who wants to maximize their time in the right places when away from home. Create a Thought for the location you are visiting: link to key destination sites, hotels and tourist attractions. For instance, if there is a hotel I like, I drag and drop its Web page into my Brain to create a Thought for it. Then in the notes section I might enter special rates, the name of the manager I spoke to on the phone, or other important details. This way when I arrive I’m not kicking myself for not remembering that great tour guide or restaurant I found when surfing the Web… because it’s all in my Brain.

I also have a VERY USEFUL Thought in my Brain called “Airlines”. In the notes section I have all my airline phone numbers that I frequently fly and my airline membership numbers right there. When I’m booking travel, I simply activate my “Airlines” Thought and have all the information I need.

You can also use this area of your Brain to create a list of cities that interest you so you can link to activities that you might like to do there sometime down the road. In time, you’ll be able to see the places you should visit based on all the things you want to see there and the people you want to visit. Plus, when you do go you’ll be sure not to have forgotten anything!

If you are interested building out this section you can read about PersonalBrain for travel on Peter Greenberg’s site.

Travel Brain

13. Personal Finance Thought

With tax season here this Thought can be a lifesaver! You should have a Thought for any accountants or accounting services you are using. Links to IRS, notes about outstanding questions or issues will make your meeting with your accountant that much more effective. This is also a great place to link to any online bill paying or banking sites that you may use. You can also add a Thought for “Bills paid” add in any notes on dates bills are due or when they were last paid. For more time sensitive and important items like property taxes you can create separate Thoughts and set a calendar item so PersonalBrain will remind you when they are due. If you are into scanning receipts or important documentation PersonalBrain makes it easy to store and categorize this information.

Personal Finance

14. Top of My Mind Thought

This Thought is similar to the “Most Active Projects” and “Daily To Dos” Thoughts already mentioned, but it is different in that it is not necessarily project specific. Under your Top of Mind thought you might have links to current hobbies, your tax return, an upcoming event that you are planning, or a project that is all consuming. The top of my mind is a mixture of stuff you are doing and or just stuff you might really be thinking about. For instance you might be tracking issues for our next presidential election although you might have this stuff under politics if it’s top of your mind it should be linked there as well…This Thought can also be the parent Thought for the “Most Active Projects” and “Daily To Dos” Thoughts. Its purpose is to capture not only action oriented items but new ideas and issues in your wet Brain that are not necessary task or work specific. Having this Thought gives you a place to prioritize your life and consciously decide what is important to you. The first step in any purposeful journey begins with a Thought…

My Business

Final Thoughts

Now why are all these Thoughts necessary? As human beings we think about stuff, lots and lots of stuff, and not necessarily in a linear or focused manner. Even though I might be working on something very specific at the moment, having a place to capture these additional nuggets as they emerge in your digital workplace can be a goldmine. So when you are using your Brain for your business analytics or mind mapping your next big or current big thing, I hope these additional thoughts will provide you with some foundation for those other brilliant ideas that crop into our minds when we least expect them. Because regardless of time or place, a good Thought should never be forgotten.

If you have any additional must have Thoughts let me know or add them to the comments below.

These thoughts might even trigger or warrant a new Brain! For further reading, you might also be interested in checking out our Top 12 PersonalBrain Uses to get a macro perspective on different Brains.

Tags: Productivity Reflection

Filed under: Feature Focus and How Tos Improving Your Brain

More posts by: Shelley Hayduk