"Mind-mapping," a kind of right-brained outlining process using colored markers, is gaining endorsement by many as a way to take notes, outline a story, plan a vacation, set goals or design a marketing strategy -- any task that requires the brain to dump out thoughts in a connected way, as opposed to the accustomed linear fashion.

After Piere Carlo Falloti, director of the European Field Services Division of Digital Equipment, learned about mind-mapping at juggler Michael Gelb's seminar in Geneva, he was so enthused with the multicolored "organized doodles" that he immediately mind-mapped the five-year plan for his division (an eight-hour task that would normally have required one frustrating week), color-copied it and sent it out to his top executives.

Created by Gelb's colleague Tony Buzan, author of Use Both Sides of Your Brain (Dutton), mind-mapping was designed to use the brain's natural tendency to function as a "patterned organizer." The usual 1-2-3 sequential method, says Buzan, does not take into account the trial-and-error method of thinking and connecting.

What appears to be a scattered "dumping" of the mind's approach to an idea or concept is really an organized way of showing to your eye, on the outside, how your brain is thinking on the inside -- the connections and groupings it's making on a subconscious level.

Starting with the main idea in a circle in the middle, Gelb tells mind-mappers, draw connections out with different colored markers, putting one key word on each line. Because the brain remembers color and images better than words, draw key-colored pictures anywhere appropriate.

Mind-mapping, according to Gelb, who has been using mind maps for 10 years to record phone conversations, make to-do lists, plot out books and articles and analyze relationships, "is a picture of the way the brain works. It allows you to get access to your smarts."