Wendy McNaughton
Wendy McNaughton

13 Life-Changing (or not) Flowcharts

Wendy McNaughton
Wendy McNaughton

Flowcharts can be good for any kind of decision-making process, like figuring out where your life went wrong and whether you are even qualified to use a flowchart. If you are, then enjoy this latest round of creative charts from all over.

1. Are You Good at Following Flowcharts?

Flowcharts are supposed to help you in making step-by-step decisions. Now here's a flowchart to help determine whether you know what you're doing when you read a flowchart. If you're not, it won't help you at all. If you think it will help, see the rest of the chart at College Humor.

2. The Internet Flowchart

Doghouse Diaries has a flowchart that explains why you are reading mental_floss right now -to see if there is anything new on your favorite website! This is so true for me... I can't even use the excuse of having to work, because this is my work!

3. Do You Understand The Higgs Boson?

Now, there's a loaded question! The odds are that you don't, because most people, even highly intelligent people like those who read mental_floss, don't understand subatomic particles that haven't yet been found. But this flowchart from Fake Science might help you decide whether it may be worth bluffing your way through …you know, on the off chance you run into someone who does understand the Higgs Boson.

4. What Particle Are You?

Maybe if you're not into the Higgs Boson track, you could be another subatomic particle. It all depends on which side of The Force you are on, whether you are a strange, glueball, charm, top, bottom, or maybe even something less pun-worthy named for a scientist. Sean Carroll at Cosmic Variance constructed this flowchart to determine which of those tiny things you have the most in common with. It's much bigger than the sample shown here.

5. Are You Actually Going to Study for Finals?

Better study up on those subatomic particles; they may be on the test. But will you really get around to studying for your finals? The road to flunking a class is paved with good intentions -as this flowchart makes clear. This is only a portion of the full flowchart at College Humor. The illustrator, Nathan Yaffe, obviously spent his time on this flowchart to put off studying.

6. AMC Programming

If you're not going to study, there's always TV. This simple flowchart will let you know what's on AMC, except for those months when The Walking Dead can be substituted with Mad Men or Breaking Bad. The network seems to have Sunday nights down, but the rest of the week is another story. Of course, the other cable networks have their favorite films as well, as redditors are happy to point out.

7. The Ultimate Guide To Talking To Any Human

How do I get hold of you? Email? Text? Phone? Chat? Honestly, picking up the nearest device may be simpler than working your way through this flowchart from Katie Heaney and Chris Ritter at Buzzfeed, but the chart may help you clarify your intentions and maybe even reconsider whether you want to communicate at all.

8. Should I Check My Email?

Yes, it's true, some people don't need your communication right now. In fact, it's a big distraction when you're trying to get something done, whether it's work or studying for finals. This flowchart by artist Wendy McNaughton will help you convince yourself you can stay away from that inbox for as long as you really need to. It accompanies a Forbes article on how to ignore email. See the full-size version for readability. 

9. Rock Star Dating

Some people have an easier time connecting with the opposite sex than others. This flowchart from Graphic Content explains.

10. How to Argue with a Climate-Change Denier

This flowchart was only published yesterday, from Slate in collaboration with Climate Desk. It gives you four good arguments to use, but to be honest, a good argument doesn't always win a debate. The flowchart is large, so you should go to Slate to see the whole thing in a readable size.

11. A Flowchart for Cats

Cats have small brains that are stuffed full of cat logic. This flowchart perfectly explains cat logic in human terms.

12. Should I lock this door or not?

Everyday life is full of compromises. Redditor jakizely got into trouble locking the door so many times that his wife Amanda constructed this flowchart to help him. You can read it all at Imgur, but be warned that it has NSFW text. She was upset. 

13. How I Make Comics

Toronto artist AK Tettenborn of the webcomic Twice Shy made a flowchart to explain the process of making comics. This is strangely close to the process I use to write lists for mental_floss.

Find more amusing flowcharts in the many previous posts on flowcharts.

9 Flowcharts to Help You Navigate the Christmas Season

Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year, and all the other winter holidays are times of tradition, when we continue to celebrate in the manner of years past. But some modern situations call for decisions that tradition doesn’t cover. That’s why we have flowcharts! Here are some that pertain to the unique conundrums that arise this time of year.


Will you be spending Christmas with your parents or your in-laws? This is a decision you should make with your significant other, but it doesn't have to turn into a tug-of-war. Just produce this flowchart from She Knows to bolster your reasons for visiting the family with the least drama.


The holidays would certainly be less stressful if we were to do away with the tradition of buying gifts for adults (other than maybe homemade food or a nice box of candy). But social obligations live on. Still, you don’t have to buy everyone a gift, especially when you're on a limited budget. Read the rest of this flowchart from College Humor, which will help you make your decision.   


That may be a simple question, but the answer might be quite complicated. A flowchart from The Date Report can help you to consider how far along the relationship is and whether a Christmas gift would be proper at this time or not.  


When a close family member asks you what you want for Christmas, it’s OK to be honest. Just keep in mind that you're more likely to get your wish fulfilled if you keep it within the giver’s budget. This flowchart from 1500 Days to Freedom illustrates that well. (A second flowchart in the same post explains the recurring nightmare of intergenerational conflict in his/her family—something we're all likely familiar with.)  


Major retailers often release flowcharts to help you decide what to give people for Christmas, which all end in gifts they sell. This one, targeted to men, is from the Milwaukee Brewers. The entire chart is huge. The flowchart is complicated, but no matter who you're shopping for, the perfect gift is a Holiday 4-Pack. I would have at least suggested splurging on a whole 6-pack.


Most of the time, your phone is attached to your hand—but when you're with the family for holiday togetherness, you're sure to get a few snarky comments from relatives if you're using it all the time. Still, there are some situations that make phone use appropriate, so Shane Snow created a flowchart to help you navigate each possible scenario.  


You should have your Christmas lights up by now. Why don’t you? Are they not working? Are you putting off the annual testing regimen? Terry Ritter put up an entire website to help you troubleshoot Christmas lights 10 years ago. His flowcharts will take you through the process of testing your lights before you hang them. Or you can simplify things by simply plugging them in and throwing away the strings that don’t work.


There are an awful lot of classic Christmas movies—some you may have even forgotten about. There’s one to fit your interests for every situation and every mood. You can determine which movie fits yours with this handy chart from College Humor. See the rest of the chart to select your movie.


Let's wrap up Christmas with a flowchart that’s been around forever, but is still enjoyable. After all, who wants to miss a step that may lead to seeing a jolly old elf, so you can laugh when you see him in spite of yourself? If you have trouble reading it, see a larger version here.

9 Flowcharts for Maximum Non-Productivity

Flowcharts long ago escaped the world of engineering and have run rampant across all topics. The best ones are either useful or funny, and sometimes they can be both. Here’s a roundup of flowcharts that may help you out or at least entertain you for a while. But the first, and most important question is:

1. Do You Like Flowcharts?

Randall Munroe at xkcd presents us with a flowchart to determine what kind of chart or graph you prefer. And he then attempts to give you what you want, in one way or another. But as you and I know, there’s no pleasing some people. The arrow at the bottom points to the “random” button at the website. Which ought to please anyone.

2. Should You Buy an Apple Watch?

No, this isn’t an ad from Apple, because if it were, all decision paths would flow toward “yes,” except the one about having no money. This is from Funny or Die, where you can see the full chart.

3. Is It Paleo?

The Paleo Diet Flowchart will help you recognize foods you can eat on the Paleo Diet. I’ve probably learned more about that diet from this flowchart than from any other source, since I’m not all that interested in diets outside of what my kids eat. It was drawn by Cole Bradburn, based on an earlier flowchart by Nicole Voelzke that you can see at the same link.

4. Should You Put Coffee In Your Face Right Now?

Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal made a flowchart for the website I Love Coffee. It makes the simple decision of whether to have a cup of coffee into a convoluted quiz involving tigers, bran muffins, and revolution. See the rest of it here. Me? Unless it’s bedtime, I just skip to “Yes.” Tea is for bedtime.

5. How to Talk About the Economy

Zach Weiner at Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal created a flowchart about how to address the subject of the economy, if you are a politician, in which case it matters, or a media personality, in which case it only matters how you spin it.  

6. How to Not Be a Bullying Mob

Internet shaming is a hot topic these days. In the quest for justice over those who do are exposed on the internet as doing something offensive or mean, the backlash can be exponentially worse. By joining in on the pile-on, you may find yourself being part of the bullying experience yourself. A flowchart by Andrea Phillips can help you to stop and think before you comment or take some other action against a person you don’t know. This illustration is only a portion of the full chart, which you can enlarge at the link.

7. Should You Do the Dishes?

If you were to ask me, that’s an easy question to answer. I’m a mom. The answer is “Yes!” But this flowchart is from College Humor, so it is not aimed at me, but at young adults who moved away from their families in order to avoid doing dishes. Or attend college, but that’s splitting hairs. If there’s any chance in hell you can avoid the dishes for a while longer, you will. The rest of this tall flowchart is at the highlighted link.  

8. Hey Jude

Sarah Emerson used a flowchart not to make a decision, but to explore the structure of the song “Hey Jude.” It works elegantly well, especially with the infinite loop at the end, and is also available as an art print

9. Putting It Off Until Later

The Procrastination Flowchart is at least seven years old, and the original is impossible to find, as various cited sources no longer exist. Yet we still procrastinate. What you see here is just the starting point, which is in the middle of the chart, because there are so many paths to procrastination that they wander all around the chart. By the time you finish with the entire chart, the deadline you are avoiding will be passed.

Make the rest of the decisions in your life with the help of other flowcharts we've posted. And see more graph humor of all kinds. 


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