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Open Thread: Mac Mind Mapping, and how you use it

I've recently revived my interest in doing mind mapping as a way to capture ideas and plan out projects.

Back in the day, I'd use Inspiration (which registration regrettably died a few years ago), and in more recent times I've played with free apps like My Mind and FreeMind, as well as tested more costly apps like NovaMind and MindManager.

If you also like to mind map, I'm curious to hear which of these you and your Mac are using, how you're using it, and what made you choose one app over another. Got a preference? Prefer regular old paper and markers? Using lots of images in your mind maps? Which pay app is most worth the dough, and why?

And for folks who are new to mind mapping, here's a few links to get you started:

  • Mind map - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - "A mind map (or mind-map) is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks or other items linked to and arranged radially around a central key word or idea. It is used to generate, visualize, structure and classify ideas, and as an aid in study, organization, problem solving, and decision making."
  • Mind Maps [peterussell.com] - "Mind maps were developed in the late 60s by Tony Buzan as a way of helping students make notes that used only key words and images. They are much quicker to make, and because of their visual quality much easier to remember and review. The non-linear nature of mind maps makes it easy to link and cross-reference different elements of the map."
  • Learn how to draw Mind Maps with Mind Tools - "Mind Maps are more compact than conventional notes, often taking up one side of paper. This helps you to make associations easily. If you find out more information after you have drawn the main Mind Map, then you can easily integrate it with little disruption."
  • how to make a mind map - "Your initial words and images stimulate associations. Attach whatever word or image is triggered. Allow the 'random movement of your thought; you do not have to ‘finish’ one branch before moving on"
  • Uses of Mind Maps [peterussell.com] - "Whenever you are confronted by a problem -- professional or personal -- mind maps help you see all the issues and how they relate to each other. They also help others quickly get an overview of how you see different aspects of the situation, and their relative importance."
Terry Rock's picture

I've been using MindManager for...

I've been using MindManager for probably 10 years. Here's how I use it:

1) Pre-writing anything (agendas, letters, speeches, reports) - prior to putting pen to paper or finger to keyboard, I open MindManager, type the topic I'm writing about in the middle of the page and just let the ideas fly. I normally start out linear... I'll just write words like "introduction," "main," "conclusion." Concepts roll out from there, and I love that MM allows me to rearrange everything on the fly. Every once in a while I try writing without it... I inevitably stop and start mapping.

2) Research maps - I used to be the Director of Strategic Research for a venture capital firm. Everyone on my team used MM as a way to capture and present our research. Best for online research, you can drag URLs onto the map to create a clickable record of your thoughts. We always started our research with crazy huge maps with hundreds of branches. Eventually, we'd sort it down into 3 or 4 main concepts with our conclusions typed up in the map. We'd then present the map to our clients using 'net conferencing. If they wanted to see the report or source of the conclusion, we could just click through. We'd eventually export the map, and it formed the outline of the research section of our reports. We'd also publish an html version of the map on an extranet for the clients to explore at their leisure. A quick note: I introduced this software to the firm. Two weeks after I showed it around, everyone in the office had a license.

3) To-Do lists - Managing our start-up arts development authority (www.calgaryartsdevelopment.com), family life, hockey coaching and the stuff I do for fun tends to fill my brain. Once a month (I wish it was more often), I fire up a "TR To Do" mindmap. First, I dump everything thats on my mind into the map. Second, I arrange it into higher order branches (People, Projects, Board of Directors, etc.). Finally, I go through each branch and write notes on where the project is, what else I need to know, follow ups, etc. I usually then print the map, fold it up, and put it in my notebook for future reference. If I was really on the ball, I'd publish it for my whole team to see, and perhaps make it "drill downable" by also publishing links to maps for projects, etc.

That's how I use it... (oh, I've also got my 3 kids using it to do and keep track of their homework...). MM is clearly an essential tool for what I do.




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