My first ever Digital Heart blog post on Blogger was about mind mapping, and as I’m now moving to a WordPress blog, I’ve decided to use the opportunity to say just how important Mind Mapping is to me. Not everyone hits the ground running with these tools, but it’s worth a try because if you get along with mind maps, they can become a very useful thing indeed.
Mind mapping for learning stuff
The introduction I had to mind mapping happened many years ago when I was still in school. It involved drawing circles, boxes and lines on paper. My teachers made it look good but I didn’t find it that useful in the early days. It came back into my mind as a professional, working in a publishing company in 2005 when I was studying PMI’s project management course online. I needed a way to summarise what I was reading in a way that maximised the speed of omprehension and depth of memory.
I filled up dozens or even hundreds of pages with circled words, boxes and lines – three big folders-full. And it proved a successful exercise. I found summarising to be fun, revising very easy to do, and I passed all the tests, no worries!
The folders moved with me to other jobs in the following years, and proved to be a useful reference tool as I started managing my first digital projects.
Mind mapping at work
Now adays I use mind mapping tools on my computer, tablet and mobile phone. These tools are so intuitive and fast, I enjoy it so much more. It is at the work-place, where mind mapping really comes into its own, and I use it pretty much daily for:
- Planning – meetings agendas, document writing, marketing activities
- Ideas brainstorming
- Meeting/call minutes
- Learning summaries e.g. when I watch webinars / do any kind of course
- To do lists
- Desk research information gathering
- Developing training material
I type away into the mind mapping tool in real time, and can easily convert a map into an image, a word document or PDF and share it with others. Another way of sharing is getting the team to download the tool on their own computers, so that they can edit maps themselves. Some tools allow for online maps, but I find it difficult to work with maps in the cloud – my personal preference is to have my own copy on my drive and use version control. Wow this is getting boring, sorry!
I have hundreds of mind map files saved on my drive, and they are fantastically easy to refer to at a much later date, it feels like accessing a hidden store of memory in my own mind. I love it, love it, love it.
Mind mapping for personal stuff
I employ the help of mind mapping tools for managing:
- My garden – planting plans and plant-care calendars
- To do lists
- Personal development exploration
- Sorting out confusing thoughts whenever I’m in crisis
- I expect they’re great for event planning e.g. weddings etc.
In 2006 I discovered Mindjet’s MindManager, and quickly made my employer buy a licence for my work and home PC. These got used continuously for several good years and helped me do a rather good job. However in 2013 I started my own company, bought a MacBook and needed something that worked with Mac, so I switched to Xmind.
Both tools are excellent, I’m happy with either. Although Mindjet had more features, I got used to Xmind and it works well enough in a more simple format.
I believe both tools work with Mac these days, however Xmind is free while MindManager is rather pricy.
Seriously, which tool isn’t even the question. The question is: how can you live without one?
(First published 21 Sep 2014, on Blogger)