The Map Habit Has Moved!

TheMapHabit-ScreenshotThe Map Habit has been redesigned and moved it to it’s own hosted domain. One of the reasons for doing this is to have more control of the layout as well as the ability to add additional elements not available in the hosted WordPress package. My goal for the design of The Map Habit is to create a sanctuary of information in an attractive and accessible way, and I hope that you find the new design to be a step in that direction.

Please check out the new design at:

As always, I would really appreciate your feedback (the good, the bad and the ugly). So let me have it (but let me have it on the new site!).

Published in: on June 14, 2009 at 8:10 am  Leave a Comment  


DSCN31931. Your One Treasure (Direction). If this is the first article you have read from The Map Habit then you may not be familiar with the One Treasure concept. We need to make sure that we are headed in the right DIRECTION (“Treasure” and “Direction” are used interchangeably throughout The Map Habit site). This is critically important. Without 100% dedication to ensuring that you are headed in the right direction it is unlikely that you will ever find the treasures you seek. You need to clearly and accurately define exactly what “treasure” you are searching for in your adventure. No one can tell what that treasure is, and you certainly won’t get it from a Top 10 List. This is something that only you can do and I strictly forbid you from reading the rest of this article until you have found your One Treasure…so STOP and go follow this article first and then come back:

2. Schedule Time. This may seem redundant to return visitors, but it’s worth repeating. If your life is already a clutter-free wonderland and every day is an adventure then it is unlikely that you would be reading this. So let’s do ourselves a favor and set aside the appropriate amount of time to complete all of the steps listed below (that may be an hour for you or it may be a year, but it’s worth it). Here are some resources to help:

3. Declutter. Get rid of the crap! Piles of paper that you don’t need, old receipts, paper plates and cups, used up pens and pencils…you know, CRAP! Just throw it out and don’t even think about it for a second. Throw it out now! This is the easy part, the “no-brainer”. Bring the trash bag or trash can over to the area you are cleaning to make it as easy as possible to just throw it out. Here is some help if you need it:

4. Separate Into Parts. The next several steps are all about removing and eliminating and decluttering, but before we do that we need to separate things. Your Direction will determine what areas of your life you want to Simplify but the steps will be relatively the same regardless. Separating things is really the easiest part of this whole process. You get to make a mess! Take everything out and spread it all over the floor of your office or your bedroom or whatever area you are simplifying. If it’s your office desk then open up all the drawers and dump the stuff out all over the floor. If you are simplifying your laptop bag then do the same thing. You need to get it all out so you can see everything. Then once it is all out there you are going to separate everything into logical parts. Put things that are similar together.

5. Eliminate the Unnecessary. This is not the time to be wishy-washy. You must be bold and brave and ruthless. Get rid of as much as you can. Stop trying to convince yourself that you might need this (whatever thing) at some point. You probably will not ever need it and even if you do the freedom and energy you will gain by eliminating the clutter is more than worth it. Do you have a table or dresser or something with so many pictures on it that it just becomes a “blur”. You never really look at any of the pictures because nothing ever attracts your attention and keeps your focus. Could you imagine walking into an art museum and seeing all the paintings sitting on top of each other in a big pile? Of course not. The paintings are separated so that each has it’s own space and can be appreciated. Take everything off of your refrigerator except for one thing. That one thing will instantly command attention. Do you have more than one of anything? Why? (That was a trick question. Stop making excuses and reasons why and start eliminating stuff!) Here is some help:

6. Organize. Not sure who originally said this but we want: “A place for everything, and everything in it’s place.” No more searching for what you need, because you already know exactly where it is. Now, if you followed the steps above there shouldn’t be all that much to organize because you got rid of all of the crap and clutter and extra stuff. However, there will always be a certain amount of things you need to accomplish your tasks so we want to make sure they are organized and put away.

7. Make Space and Clean. You certainly won’t feel motivated to get to work if you sit down to a desk that is covered in trash or filth. You need to look around and make sure that you have space to accomplish your tasks. That might mean cleaning up, even if it is someone else’s stuff…even if they might get mad at you. The goal here is to change your environment instead of trying to change your will to overcome a poor environment. Most current productivity and lifestyle design professionals preach the benefits of changing your environment over trying to change your will power. Make it easier on yourself to achieve your goals. Don’t forget to apply this step to your clothes as well. Get rid of old shoes and t-shirts. Simplifying your wardrobe can be energizing as well!

8. Upgrade Tools. Imagine sawing a 2×4 in half with a dull saw. It’s exhausting! That is exactly the reason you need to upgrade the tools you use that make you productive in whatever path you are on. If the majority of the work you do is on a computer and you are using a dinosaur with outdated software that is painfully slow you are limiting yourself. If you are a writer and you don’t carry a small notebook around with you then you are probably missing some of your most creative ideas (they often come when you are relaxed and not trying to be creative – you don’t want to miss these because you don’t have something to write them down with).

9. Evaluate (and Repeat if Needed). If you followed the steps to Simplicity but you don’t feel a sense of release, freedom and energy then do it again – you were not ruthless enough. No one is going to do this for you (unless you are lucky enough to get on an episode of Clean House or something). You need to establish routines for Simplicity and you really need to be brutal in your fight against clutter and chaos. Don’t stand for it. Watch shows like Clean House and others. Cut out pictures of beautifully organized rooms and working spaces and refer to them for motivation. It may take a long time, especially if you have clutter magnets (aka “kids”) but you can do it.

10. Done…Now What? Well, of course there is no “done” when it comes to Simplicity. It requires routine focus and maintenance. But if you followed the steps above you have given yourself a real gift. The gift of freedom from clutter and distractions. A gift that will enable you to follow your path with efficiency. The step to making your life an adventure is Energy…coming soon! Until then:

More about LESS!

START HERE –> The Power of Less – Leo Babauta on

THEN GO HERE –>The Choice-Minimal Lifestyle: 6 Formulas for More Output and Less Overwhelm – Timothy Ferriss

STILL WANT MORE –> The Laws of Simplicity – John Maeda

WHAT? YOU STILL WANT MORE –> 10 Ways to Simplify Your Life Starting Today –

Published in: on May 27, 2009 at 7:14 am  Comments (1)  


findyourtreasure-300wTHE 10 STEPS TO FINDING THE TREASURES YOU SEEK IN LIFE (with Map)

(Please note that I use “Treasure” and “Direction” interchangeably below and for the purpose of this article they represent the same thing.)

1. Schedule Time.  Please do not start the process of finding your Direction until you have carved out at least 1 hour of dedicated time to focus quietly and completely (NOTE: Finding your Direction may take an hour, or a week or in my case about 20 years, well…I’m a little slow and easily distracted.) This is something that will take a considerable amount of effort and focus for most people so please don’t bother until you can create the right environment for yourself to focus on what may be the most important task you have ever done. A task that will determine whether you make your life an adventure and find the treasures you are looking for…or simply continue to “work” on someone else’s goals. Here are some resources to help:

2. Eliminate Distractions. No surfing, no reading email, no phone calls or dealing with screaming kids while you are working on the rest of these steps. If you can’t remove distractions for a set period of time then wait until you can. You need to be focused and totally present. This is going to be a creative exercise that you need to get wrapped up in and fully engaged. Please give this process the time and attention that it deserves.

3. Use Paper and Pen/Pencil. This is more of a suggestion than a requirement as everyone is different. However, I have found that I have trouble engaging in creative activities while working on a computer. Part of this is the constant pull of countless distractions of computers and the internet (see Step 2). Disconnect yourself from the computer  physically if you are like me and prone to distraction. There is also something real and personal about writing with a pen and paper. Don’t underestimate the value of making this personal and opening up your creative capacity. I recommend taking an extra step here and getting yourself a nice journal that is easy to write in and the perfect pen or pencil for you.

4. Create Your Treasure List. It’s quiet and you are alone and comfortable. You have your journal and your special pen or pencil and all distractions have been eliminated. You are ready! You are going to make a list of the Treasures you seek in life. Your life is about to start being an adventure again…but you need to determine what those adventures will be. Start with a simple list. What do you want out of life. A new career? A healthier home? Relationships with the top probloggers in the world? Do you want to wake up every day energized? Do you want to help someone? What do you want to do? What makes you happy? What did you do with your free time when you were a kid and you actually didn’t have to do anything?No restrictions or limits here. Be creative and do not limit yourself. Do not make excuses or think about reasons you can’t or shouldn’t have something. Free yourself and fill up this list!

5. Choose The One Treasure that will be Your Next Adventure. Creating “The Map Habit” was the Direction I chose a while back and I used some of the steps in this article to do it. The rest of the steps in this article are things that if I hade done it wouldn’t have taken so long to find it! Anyway, you need to review, edit and prioritize your Treasure List now. Cross off things that when you think about it you don’t really care enough about them to spend weeks or years of your life pursuing. Cross off things that you don’t feel like you NEED to do. Circle or put numbers on the items in your list that jump out at you… things that get you excited just thinking about them. Cross off things that are simply material possessions (this is just a suggestion – but studies show that having excess money or possesions won’t make you happy – we are trying to dig a little deeper here and find things that will bring about real life changes for the better). You are looking for One thing in the Treasure List that will become your next Adventure. Choose the One thing that you can pour yourself into completely. One thing that will become your life-changing pursuit. You are looking to mix passion with purpose here. Take your time. Make another list if needed. Don’t move on until you have selected that One Treasure.

6. Wait at Least 24 Hours. “What? Are you serious?” Yes, very serious. Please consider 24 hours to be the absolute minimum, probably at least a week or two would be best. “But I’m excited and I want to start NOW!!!” I understand, but you need to let this Direction “stew” for a bit. It is very easy to get excited about an idea or an adventure before you have actually started down the path. Remember there is a lot of fool’s gold out there, especially if the Direction you have chosen came directly or indirectly from someone else. This may be a good time to do the exact opposite of what every productivity expert in the world would tell you and try to distract yourself from your new Direction. If this is truly the right Direction for you, then you will come back to it…nothing will stop you. Better to find out the Direction was not quite right sooner than later (20 years learning this lesson – trust me!). Here are some great distractions to “fill the time” and they just might help you refine or even redefine your new Direction:

7. Revisit Your One Treasure and Make 100% Sure It’s The One. (It’s tomorrow right? You waited 24 hours right?) Seriously though, after waiting for a while take another look back at the One Treasure (or Direction) you have chosen and see if anything has changed. Has your eagerness to pour every ounce of your energy into this new Direction diminished even a little? Has another Treasure caught your eye? Be honest, better to change your Direction now then spend weeks or years searching for something you don’t really want. The next step is going to take some work so make sure before moving on.

8. Write down a detailed story of your life “As If” you already have it. Don’t start planning out every detail and next action step of your new found Direction. That is how people end up in careers they don’t like and look back years later and wander how they got there. But not you! You are going to pretend like it already is years later and you are going to write your story “As If” it already happened. “As If” you already have the treasure you seek. Be detailed here, write out what you eat and what you wear and where you eat and who you talk to and what car you drive and who you are helping and who knows you and what they say about you and what you are working on and what you like about your new life and what you don’t and on and on until you can’t write anymore. It’s like writing an autobiography for your future life.

9. Evaluate your “As If” and adjust, refine or simply start over if needed. OK, you really took the last step seriously and wrote your future autobiography. Now take a real hard look at it. Is that really the life you want to create? Is that really the Treasure you want to spend your time and energy pursuing? This is where you can separate yourself from the rest of the crowd. Can you envision your life “As If” and change your course before you use that period of time up. The quote “be careful what you wish for…you just might get it!” never made sense to me when I was younger. However, after spending years looking back and saying “why did I do that?” it became very clear. Don’t put yourself in that situation. If you think you need to go back to Step 5 Celebrate the weeks or years of your life that you just saved! I can’t stress this enough. Go back to Step 5 a little smarter than you were before and try again until you get it right. If you are sure that this is the right Treasure for you then go to Step 10.

10. This is your TREASURE… your new found DIRECTION. This is your next Adventure! (Now what?) Celebrate the effort you put into finding your true course. And until I get more articles written and more maps created to help you with the next steps of this process I recommend going to Zen Habits for help with making your new Direction a reality. I think that Simplicity is next area to focus on, but more on that later.

CAUTION: Do not use mind-mapping when charting the course to your Treasure. Mind-maps take you from where you want to go to anywhere and everywhere in infinitely many directions. Mind-maps are like having a map that points everywhere! That’s not what we are after. Keep it simple…during the brainstorming stage make lists and revisit your lists and order your lists and prioritize your lists, but always have the goal of finding that one Direction. I’ll expand on this in another article.

[UPDATE: I entered this map in the contest at True North Arts. Wish me luck!]

Some things you might also be interested in:

Published in: on May 8, 2009 at 6:52 am  Comments (19)  

Please Don’t Kick My Head (Ridiculous Story About Dealing with Mistakes)

I wrote this ridiculous story a while back as an idea for kids book (chose the wrong Direction…but that’s another story). I thought it was worth sharing. It may just be ridiculous enough to put a mental image in the back of your head that you can use to shake off and laugh at a mistake you make one day:

Please Don’t Kick My Head

Nobody knows why, really.
The grown-ups of this town all walk around
with their heads hung down.
Some grown-ups have their
heads hanging down so low
that they actually drag on the ground.

It’s sad really, but all
we know is that the more
mistakes someone makes
the lower they should hang their head.

Since everybody makes mistakes then
everybody has their head hanging down
when they get older. Sometimes they
even trip over their own head
when they are trying to walk. It is
all very sad. But that’s the way it is.

One day a grown-up was at a
soccer game and their head
was hanging down on the ground
next to where the ball landed.
A kid accidentally kicked the
grown-ups head because he thought
it was the soccer ball by mistake.

The kid felt really bad and he started
hanging his head down a little bit too,
since he made a big mistake.

Then one day a stranger
came to the town. He was a grown-up,
but his head was straight up high.
Everyone wanted to know how
he had gone his whole life
without making any mistakes.

Someone finally asked the stranger
what was his secret to never
making a mistake.

The stranger laughed so hard he
fell over. He kept laughing
and laughing and he couldn’t stop
laughing. Everyone stared.

The stranger finally stopped laughing
long enough to tell everyone that he has
made thousands of mistakes. More mistakes
than he could even remember.

Someone asked him why his head
wasn’t hanging all the way to the floor if he
had really made all of those mistakes.

The stranger said that
was the silliest thing he ever heard.
Now a few of the grown-ups started
to pick their heads up a little bit.
They were curious.

The stranger explained that making mistakes
was no reason to hang your head in shame.
He told them that he learned from
his mistakes instead of worrying
about them or hanging his head in shame.

The stranger went on to tell them about
some of his biggest mistakes and what
he learned from them.

After hearing that, more people
begin to lift their heads up, anxious to
hear more. They had actually made some
of the same mistakes that the stranger made,
except they got very upset and hung their
heads down.

One of the oldest grown-ups in the
town tried to tell everyone that this
was an outrage. That anyone who made
that many mistakes should hang their
head all the way to the floor. But
this time, no one was listening to the old
grown-up. They were more interested
in the stranger.

The stranger explained that he
never tries to make mistakes, but he does.
He thinks about the mistake for a few minutes
and remembers the mistake if it can help
him do better the next time. But he
doesn’t sit around worrying about it.

Everyone liked this stranger and wanted
to hold their heads up high like he did.
The grown-ups started to lift their heads
up more and more every day. And sometimes
they would make mistakes, but then they
thought about the stranger and learned from
their mistakes instead of hanging their heads down.

The grown-ups were getting happier
every day and it was very rare that
anyone tripped over their own head or
accidentally kicked someone else’s head
by mistake. But even when they did,
they would just say sorry and try harder,
instead of hanging their heads down.

They were happy.

Published in: on April 30, 2009 at 7:32 am  Comments (2)  

Top 5 Most Compelling Reasons to Read This Blog

dscn26791. Your life is not an adventure. You want to get excited about something again, like when you were a kid. You want to experience “flow” every day…not once in a blue moon. You’re bored. But every time you try to make time for yourself something else comes up. Some other pressing need: the house, co-workers, the boss, etc…and then there is no time left for you.

2. You have read “How To” and “Self Help” books but yet…here you are still. You try to follow the tips and advise of experts, but it doesn’t work for you. You give yourself positive affirmations every morning and focus all your energy on the “Top 5…” and yet 2 hours into the day you find yourself relying on your old habits and your day turns out the same as the last.

3. Your time is “limited” (true…we all have the same number of hours in a day but it seems like you have so much more to do than anyone else and you don’t have any help) . You’re life has become overwhelming. It seems like the only time you have to yourself is when you are too tired to do anything with it.

4. You really don’t want to work 24 hours a day and never sleep or take a break. You don’t want to reinvent the wheel either, you prefer to learn from others and maximize your time. You don’t want to develop a totally revolutionary system to enhanced productivity…but if someone has invented one that will work for you, you want to know about it. You want to focus on the the things you want, not meeting all of your obligations to everyone else.

5. You just want to learn how to make your own maps…cool!

Let’s get started then. Click on one of the categories on the right and find an article that applies to you and start reading. Most importantly, find something to get excited about and map out your course to change. YOUR course to change.

Published in: on April 20, 2009 at 6:36 am  Comments (1)  

The 10 Laws of Simplicity

John Maeda wrote a book on what he sees as the 10 Laws of Simplicity. This a book in print, but he offers it for free olawsofsimplicityn the website: The Laws of Simplicity. I liked this quote from Law 2: “…in the long term an effective scheme for organization is necessary to achieve definitive success in taming complexity.” Very interesting approach to Simplicity from a man that is anything but simple.

Here is a talk by John Maeda on TED (Ideas Worth Spreading). Offers an entertaining discussion on how John found his path and a little bit about his view of the world.

Quote from the author, John Maeda: “I wrote The Laws of Simplicity in late 2005 to early 2006 to get my thoughts down about simplicity. In the course of 100-pages, I outline the Ten Laws as used on this website.”

Published in: on April 13, 2009 at 6:32 am  Comments (1)  

The Top 4 Most Likely People to Change Your Life…for the Better!

1. Timothy Ferriss: A true pioneer in lifestyle design. A person that questions every assumption and bad habit we have, but doesn’t stop there. He tears them apart and relentlessly explores and shares his remedies for the wasted time, lost productivity and just plain stupid things we do all day. (

2. Leo Babauta: Leo’s book, The Power of Less, was the first book I ever pre-ordered. I couldn’t wait to read it…and yes, it was worth it. Highly recommended read. If you follow even some of Leo’s advise  from the book or on his blog it will change your life for the better. Simplicity, productivity, health, happiness, etc…it’s all there! (

3. Robert Kiyosaki: Recently elevated to “prophet” status based on predictions he made many years ago, Robert has been preaching and teaching about the dangerous road that so many people in America are travelling on financially. Will the economy recover…probably, but a better question is will we fix the problems that have become so prevalent. Not likely. So will it crash again? Probably, and it could be even worse. Robert teaches us what to do about it, if only we will listen. (

4. Andrew Matthews: The secrets in the staggeringly successful book The Secret was no secret…at least not to those who read the books of Andrew Matthews (and yes, others I’m sure). The information was already well documented in Happiness in a Nutshell (just noticed that the pocket version is offered for download at a special low price during April – $4.95). Have a look if you don’t believe me. Andrews books are also very entertaining and the cartoons that he draws himself add a visual element to the teachings that first engaged me. (


5. Chris Guillebeau: In his own words: “The Art of Nonconformity (AONC) project chronicles my writing on how to change the world by achieving significant, personal goals while helping others at the same time. In the battle against conventional beliefs, I focus on three areas: Life, Work, and Travel.” Congratulations Chris on finding success as you define it and being generous enough to share what you have learned. If you haven’t read 279 Days to Overnight Success and you are considering making a living online – then you are making a big mistake. It is packed with honest, thoughtful, practical and valuable advice for anyone interested in an online living (don’t worry – it’s FREE – no strings!). (×5/)


QUESTION: How in the world did you come up with this list?

ANSWER: I based it purely on my own personal opinion and feelings. Nothing scientific here, no exhaustive studies or world-wide polls. I based by ranking the people that have, and are still influencing me in a positive way. People that freely, openly and honestly share what they have learned and how they learned it. People that really seem to be genuine and legitimate. They may not be the richest or most successful people in the world…but I believe them, and I can’t wait to read whatever they write next. I also believe they want to help others and share what they have and are learning above just making money.

QUESTION: Why aren’t there any women in this list?

ANSWER: I don’t know. It wasn’t intentional, but when I look at the people that are having the most influence on me now…and those that have had the most influence in the past…they all seem to be men (probably just because I am a man, but who knows). Nothing intentional here. If a female blogger or writer breaks into my Top 4 I will update the list immediately and without hesitation…let me know by adding a comment if you have any suggestions.

QUESTION: What if I disagree with the people on this list?

ANSWER: Great! Please comment on this list with your additions/subtractions and anything else you feel like sharing below…


This list was posted on The Mother of All Lists. Go take a look, really great collection of lists all categorized for you.

Published in: on April 8, 2009 at 2:43 pm  Comments (3)  

Get Your SWOT Map Here…

SWOT Analysis Template

SWOT Analysis Template

Just wanted to share a template (this one in Word) to help you complete your SWOT Analysis…SWOT-Analysis-template.

Obviously this can be used for any project or goal or company and it is meant to be a relatively simple, yet effective SWOT Analysis. SWOT, for those unfamiliar with the term, is a Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat Analysis. You start by listing the Mission of the company, project or blog and then you go on to list the significant items in each of the four categories of the SWOT. This will help you plan out your Strategy more effectively by focusing  on the appropriate things. For example if you are aware of a serious threat and you are not addressing it in your strategy, then you are likely to fail. Hope you find this helpful.

Published in: on April 3, 2009 at 7:00 am  Comments (1)  

The Hand Drawn Map Association

Hand Drawn Map Association

Hand Drawn Map Association

I may be old-fashioned, but I have always been drawn to arts and crafts festivals. I love to see the work of talented artists, especially when you can see the effort and care that certain artists put into their work.

In this fast-paced digital world I don’t often get that feeling. Not that there isn’t the same (or sometimes greater) amount of effort involved in designing websites and graphics…but it just doesn’t draw me in like the booth of an artist at an art show. The feeling of walking up to a work of art and just looking at it in awe of the work of the artist. Just standing there…wow!

I got that feeling when I went to the Hand Drawn Map Association’s website. Like I was walking through an art festival and not sure of what I was going to find next. And then every once in a while I got pulled and then just looked in awe at the work of the artist. I can see and feel the care and effort that went into some of these works.

Check it out…and submit your own hand drawn map!

Published in: on March 26, 2009 at 6:44 am  Leave a Comment  

The 4HWW Activation Map – Make Life Work for You

Timothy Ferriss opened up a lot of doors (and windows) for people with his revolutionary book The 4-Hour Workweek. If you haven’t read the book yet, please stop wasting your time and go buy it. You can find it anywhere (it’s a #1 New Your Times Bestseller and a #1 WSJ Bestseller).  The 4HWW Activation Map is a supplemental visual guide I made to help me implement the lessons that Tim shares in the book. This map does not cover everything, and please note that this map was designed for ME…NOT YOU. I say this because it is critically important (and one of the guiding principles of this blog) that YOU make YOUR OWN MAP. Your starting points and the obstacles you encounter will be very different than mine. We all have different strengths and weaknesses and we all come from very different backgrounds. So even though I share this map and hope that you find some value in it, it is my map, custom-designed for me.

For those of you that are not aware of Timothy Ferriss or the The 4-Hour Workweek (hard to imagine given his stellar success – but anyway) here is a brief description (taken from the press section on Tim’s site):

The 4-Hour Workweek is not another book on the work-life balance describing the problems we all face. It is about creating solutions. Simply put, it is about luxury lifestyle design. And lifestyle design doesn’t take much time. It just takes a few uncommon decisions, and even more uncommon actions to achieve its three necessary ingredients: time, income, and mobility.”

Also please note that this is my first draft. I would really like to revisit this map and incorporate the DEAL principles into the map visually. Here are the DEAL principles in a nutshell:

  • Definition: Define what you want to be doing.

  • Elimination: Ask yourself three times a day “am I being productive, or am I being busy?” Get rid of the noise and interruption.

  • Automation: Delegate or automate the remaining tasks, even sending personal tasks overseas.

  • Liberation: Enjoy your mobility and use the time you create.

Enough said, here is the map…

The 4HWW Activation Map

The 4HWW Activation Map

As always, I’d love your comments and feedback. Here is a PDF version.

Published in: on March 22, 2009 at 7:20 am  Comments (5)  
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