Compliments of Neil Cummings via Flickr

Both MindMap and SmartDraw have a “timeline” feature, which is handy for streamlining, and for delineating your mindmap deadlines into more definitive project segments. Below is a SmartDraw Gantt chart of the Organization Blog Project: 


Using e-mail programs (like Microsoft Outlook), timeline targets can be further segmented into daily “to do list items” (which can then be color coded, marked for follow-up, prioritized, and sorted by due date). also provides a daily “to do” list tracking mechanism which allows you to forward your priorities to other people, and to be reminded of important meetings. My favorite electronic tracking tool is Oracle’s Collaboration Suite Calendar, a web based application that can be accessed from anywhere, shared among group members, and color coded by event level of importance  – highest (red), high (pink), normal (yellow), low (light blue), and lowest (dark blue).  The combination of mindmap and timelines provides a cohesive framework from which to stay on track.

To facilitate the streamlining process, be careful about which activities in which you engage in the first place. Morgenstern (2009) [author of SHED – Separate the treasure, Heave the trash, Embrace your identity, Drive yourself forward] argues that both unnecessary and burdensome time commitments, along with dysfunctional habits are items that could be consuming valuable space in your work life. She suggests that we should divest ourselves of  albatrosses which no longer (or never did) serve our purpose.

Potential time stealers include (1) Responsibilities that belong to someone else [note: junior employees in particular can be easy prey for others who wish to receive effortless recognition at their expense. Be clear up front regarding authorship roles and responsibilities, preferably delineating them in writing]; (2) Committee work that is less rewarding than anticipated; (3) Projects you started and can’t finish. She lists habit clutter as activities which result in time wasting and mindless repetition – perfectionism, procrastination, which is paralysis caused by “…a deep-seated fear of failure and a lack of our own engagement in life” (Holhbaum, 2009, p. 94), chronic lateness, mindless escape, and workaholism.

In Secrets of Simplicity, the author urges us to think about eliminating the “tolerances” in your life: things that remain unfinished (Canfield, 2005), activities that provide no pleasure, and accommodations that merely serve to create more work without providing you any corresponding benefit. The purpose of SHED is to separate the treasure in your life, those things and activities that evoke positive emotion and help you to achieve your vision, from that which is superfluous.

Morgenstern’s prescription for success requires being ruthless not only in what you retain in your office (e.g., are all those folders of work activities past really necessary? How many of your unused items would be useful to someone else? Could the library benefit from all of those books that are simply taking up space?[1]) but in your personal conduct as well. The bottom line advice is to only keep possessions and behaviors that will propel you to the next highest level of achievement.

[1] Donate those unneeded and outdated journals to the Journal Donation Project, which collects back issues and discarded volumes of English language scholarly, professional, and currents events journals. Their website is located at



Canfield, J. (2005). The success principles: How to get from where you are to where you want to   be. New York: Collins.

Carlomagno, M. (2008). Secrets of simplicity: Learn to live better with less. San Francisco, CA:      Chronicle Books LLC.

Morgenstern, J. (2009). Shed your stuff, change your life: A four step guide to getting unstuck.        New York: Simon & Schuster.

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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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