Outliner guy becomes Mind-mapper

Anybody 'round here use mind-mapping to plan your to-do or project list? [ Edit: Oopsie, I broke the 'Read before you post' rule and found this: http://www.diyplanner.com/node/2222 ] But I was reading over here: http://pigpog.com/node/1700 and there's a DIY Planner reference. I know the concept is old but I'm a newcomer to it. Tried it over Christmas break and like it more than outlining. I like regular graph paper better than the NowMap format. Everything on your mind goes on the page and enclose each item in a box, surround the box with the actions needed on the task (box them in too) and draw a line from each action to the main project box. I draw a check box in front of each action item so I can X them off, and when all the action items are accomplished (i.e. project is completed) I X the project box to indicate it's fully completed. Here's a place to print graph and other types of paper: http://www.paperprintout.com/

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MIndjet Mindmanager

I use Mindjet MindManager. Things put into here can be exported to a whole host of file types including graphic files. You can also add a variety of file types to the mapping along with your own notes.

For my stuff, mind mapping would take up more than one page and so to have everything in a digital file like MindManager is very convenient. Normally I am not into the digital organization thing because I need to flip thru pages of things and cannot see it all in one glance. This is not the case with MindManager.

Here is a link to their site. They have sample maps on it, templates you can download to get you started and a free trial download.


Tiny tiny mindmaps

Mine fit on the back of gum wrappers. :-)

I recently started using

I recently started using FreeMind. It's the first mindmap program I am using, and I have to say it fits me better than papermaps. With paper I always run across the problem that at some are there is not enough room for more text anymore... I also like the flexibility of tte digital form: I am hiding parts that have to wait, making it easier to concentrate on current areas. I also change the colours as the situation changes (one colour for things done, another for open questions etc).

Now I have to add that I am currently doing a map about my thesis... So, I use the same map for planning the research process, collecting ideas, collecting facts etc. I guess it would need an A3 already, if handmade, and I've just started. Before defending the thesis the map would take several A3's...

The problem is of course that it is a bit hard to carry along. Working at home is no problem - e-mail is handy for sending back and forth. But sometimes I would like to work on it on-the go, i.e. on paper, because I don't carry my portable along all the time. I've once printed part of it, but then I knew for sure I would be continuing it, and I also knew which part of it.

Hmm. Perhaps I should do a map about how to solve this???



Personally, I find that at a certain level of detail, it becomes easier to work with a mind map as an outline. It takes less space. From Freemind and other mappers, you can export to heirarchical lists. This makes a handier print, though it might not have enough space to do a *lot* more brainstorming in the middle, you can always doodle some stuff in.

OTOH, I don't have much trouble working with lists and outlines anyway. I can work both ways, with circles and with lists.

I like electronic mapping better than paper mapping for complex stuff, for sure. If the thing is simple, then I skip the bubbles and go straight to the list, and paper works just as well as electronic for that.

I did a map yesterday, brainstorming some stuff we'll need for a project. I used Freemind. To share with everyone else on the project, I exported to HTML with Java to send them an interactive page that gives them the expand/condense buttons. It looks like a list, it has no bubbles, but other than that it's the same as what I drew in Freemind.

I've also used CMAP for some other things, when I wanted the noun/verb constraint. I like being able to label the link between two concepts and the slightly more flexible layout options. I also tried ConceptDraw MindMap for a project, and that was spiffy too, but I don't really want to shell out the bucks for the bells and whistles. There are cheaper ways to fly.

Anyway, for me, mind-mapping is a means to an end. It lets me spill my thoughts onto the page without regard to order, because I can rearrange easily. The results, though, usually end up as an outline or list. It's easier to share that with others, frankly.


During the years I have made

During the years I have made more lists and outlines than I can count, so I'm not against them in any way. Still, it seems I get more out of myself with mapping, at least at this stage. It also seems easier to organize all that stuff with FreeMind.

For me sharing seems not to be an issue. Of course I have to do it sometims, but exporting works - just did it yesterday. Mostly, however, I do mapping for myself - it's my thesis anyway. But taking along... I don't like having to print just in case I want to continue while "somewhere".

Still, I guess for me it will work like this: I e-mail my map to my private address when I leave work, and back if I have done anything to them at home. I think I could probably take the attitude that working anywhere else should be planned ahead -> no printing just-in-case, actually it should be needed rather rarely. And, as I have I small laptop (about equal to an A4, only 1,1 kg) I can take the electronic version along in many occasions. Just have to install the FreeMind there as well.

What stays is this problem: how to balance between maps and lists. Private stuff will stay in lists, i.e. in the planner. Thesis text pieces, ideas etc. will be on the (electronic) map. But planning - drawing the line there is difficult. I already started a map about my tasks, and it's nice. But it's not portable, and I think I need stronger, more forcing prioriticing methods. One idea is that I could "move" things from the map to Next Actions (or whatever) on a regular basis, i.e. the map would be kind of an inbox or something like that.

My prganizing habits are changing right now anyway (just started the thesis, just started with FreeMind and just about to do my own DIY) so I'll come back after a while with some experiences.



On portability, get ye a flash drive! They are awesome. I just bought one from Newegg.com (a nice 4 gig corsair) and I love it. No more emailing back and forth, and I can use it to back up key files from either my work or my home computer.

Now, my commute amounts to about six inches, since I work from home most of the time--but disconnecting a drive, moving it, and reconnecting is much nicer than emailing to self. Especially since I know that email is routinely inspected for content by the powers-that-be. I can keep my actions a little more private if I don't use email.

Anyway, my new software gadget for notes and lists (EssentialPIM.com) installs on a flash drive, so I can keep my copy of the software there too. Haven't checked Freemind to see if it can do the same trick. That would take care of having to install it everywhere you go too. OTOH, even if it can't be installed to run from a flash drive, you can stick the install files ON the flash drive so you don't have to re-download wherever you go. DH uses this trick with the utilities he uses to fix his clients' computers (antivirus, antispam, registry cleaning, etc.)

Flash drives, being solid state, will often continue to work after they've been through the laundry or run over, dropped, etc. Just spend the money to get a good one.


Flash Drives

I have one too and agree with you. Mine is only 1G. The 4Gig must be nice!
Duc Ly

They are bigger than that...

I am seeing 16 Gb thumb drives at a price that I would consider reasonable.
I have no current need for one, so I do not (yet) have one. Just a few 512 Mb, a 1Gb or two and a single 4Gb.
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

About flash drives

"On portability, get ye a flash drive! ... No more emailing back and forth, and I can use it to back up key files from either my work or my home computer."

In principle yes... and no. We are actually discouraged from constantly using flash drives, as they can be lost so easily. Especially one should not do what would be the most handy: keep everyhing needed there in the first place. Too much lost data - even confidential - if the drive is lost. Taking along only those files that necessary each time means as much work as e-mailing.

For me keeping the software in a flashdrive doesn't work. That's a pity, as with the citation program I prefer (Zotero) that would be the best thing to do. I only happen to use Linux at home and Windows at work, so it simply isn't an option.


Is that the Firefox extention that Google showed up? (www.zotero.org)

Wow! is all I can say! Surely you could find some way to get this either on a mem stick, or at least the data--or barring that, setting up a Wordpress private blog.

Zotero looks cool enough, that I almost wish I needed it! ;-)


z...checking it out.

Jon you got me curious. I'm going to google it.

Duc Ly

url in my note

I put the url in my comment. www.zotero.org ;-)


Great for students

I used Zotero in grad school and I still use it when researching. I work in an academic library and it helps me file FAQ webpages and such for reference questions.

"To fly, we must have resistance."