The Workflow and Apps You Need to Move from Complex Ideas to Concrete Action Items

2 min read

You’ve got something big in mind, how do you bring it down to earth?

It’s not easy to have complex thoughts or ideas and want to begin working on them.

Examples of complex ideas could be defining your yearly goals, writing a long article, or planning a large project.

How do you eat that “big elephant”?

Here, I share the 3 stages I follow to move from the ethereal to the concrete.

STAGE 1: Mind Mapping

A mind map is a diagram in which information is represented visually, usually with a central idea placed in the middle and associated ideas arranged around it.

Why Using a Mind Map?

  1. We’re visual creatures.
  2. We better understand an image than words.
  3. You can literally throw your ideas on a white canvas and manipulate them.
  4. You can make zoom in and out.
  5. You can move things up and down.
  6. You begin giving coherence and structure to chaos.

Apps for mind mapping?

I recommend any of these: Mindnode or Xmind.

STAGE 2: Outlining

An outline is an organized sketch of your ideas in a logical order.

Why outlining?

  1. It allows you to see the backbone of your idea, the main points.
  2. From there, you can start polishing each of them, adding new ones, deleting…
  3. Structure is the beginning of common sense.
  4. Common sense equals understanding what comes next.

Apps for outlining?

For me, the best outliners are Roam or Logseq.

STAGE 3: Projects, Tasks, and To-Dos

A project is something you want to achieve that has a starting date and an end date.

You achieve a project by completing tasks.

If a task is complex enough, create as many to-dos as you need to complete it.

Why projects, tasks, and to-dos?

  1. Project, tasks, and to-dos allow you to think sequentially.
  2. We’re not multi-taskers, we’re sequential creatures.
  3. Following one step after the other, we complete to-dos, tasks, projects, and those complex ideas we want to achieve or express.

Apps to manage projects, tasks, and to-dos?

There are thousands of project/task managers out there. I’ve tested many of them.

I’ve chosen the simplest: plain text. I use Obsidian.


  • Follow a top-down process to define and organize your work.
  • Follow a bottom-up process to achieve your complex goals.

Now, let’s make it happen!


Photo by David Becker on Unsplash.