Mind mapping for real life

Mind mapping is cool. For those of you who haven’t yet heard of it, let’s take it from here: mind mapping is just plain cool. For those of you who heard of mind mapping, of course, there is much more to say. One step at a time, though…

I started to use mind mapping intensively several months ago. At that time, I was a complete uni-dimensional writer. Just one start and one end to each document. That good old linearity of a linux console guy. All my documents where linear and uni-dimensional. They had just only one way to be read: from the beginning to the end. And of course, they were huge! And each and every data collection operation – meeting notes, project management, reports – was generated this way. It was boring but I didn’t knew. I thought this is the way information processing works…

Well, mind mapping just proved me the opposite. Your brain does not work in a linear mode. No, sireee… It works on a n-dimensional connection algorithm, and when you “translate” this superb n-dimensional construction into a linear document, you are just taking out 90% of the goodies… Mind mapping does not imply only one end to a document. A mind map can be read from any point to any point. There are as many beginnings and ends to your document as the potentiality of your ideas. Writing down a story of your idea will close it into a frozen form, mind maping will keep its potential ready. You can always review a mind map and re-ignite the emerging spark…

Let’s do simple mind mapping stuff. Below is on of my mind map templates that I use for general meetings approach. It’s pretty simple, yet very powerful.

On the left side are all the informal things. I quickly set up the location and time, and also note the persons involved. Almost any meeting creates at least three roles for its participants: inititators (may not be present at the meeting, but still important), participants (the actual people that I deal with), and beneficiars (also, they might not be present, but they are the most important guys in the equation, must have them under my eyes).

Another thing to note is the Agenda, where I put what we expect to talk about. But the actual topcis can be different, so I let a lot of space for that. And I always put a relationship between those two, in order to keep myself on the track during the meeting.

One thing I found to be extremely useful is to write down a Personal Strategy for that meeting. For some meetings it grows branch by branch for 4 or 5 levels, for other it just stays in the first level under the form of a simple sentence like: “try to be flexible”.

After the meeting, we must have Conclusions, of course. And after Conclusions comes up the Next Action list, which is the actual result of any meeting. It’s not easy to “force” a meeting into a Next Action list, because people are not used to this kind of approach. Next Lists is a concept from GTD, or Getting Things Done, a methodolgy created by David Allen, and it stands for the next physical action you have to do in order to move a project forward. So, I keep my Next Action list at the lower right corner of the map, just to be sure I always end up a meeting by trying to obtain that.

Well, as simple as it is, it works for me like a charm. If you like that map, you can download it from by clicking on the following link.

Download [download#1#nohits] (a total of [download#1#hits] downloads).

Liked it? I bet you wonder what tool I used for that. As you may suspect already, it’s MindManager from MindJet, a quite nice and neat application. Which reminds me about our contest! If you want to win a free license of MindManager from MindJet, please show me your best usage of MindManager, and you’ll end up with one. Guaranteed! And try to hurry up, submissions ends by March the 10th. All you have to do is to comment on this article or on the original contest announcement, and we’ll take it from there.

Happy mind mapping!

[tags]mind map, productivity[/tags]

13 thoughts on “Mind mapping for real life”

  1. Pingback: Rolling Blogroll 3: eDragonu - The choice of a personal path » All Tips and Tricks
  2. Yeap, no problem! Do I need to do something for that, or you can do it directly? [update] Don’t worry, I uploaded it, thanks for the opportunity.

  3. @ilker: thanks 🙂
    @zahid ayar: sonds interesting…
    @Donald: there is a whole application that completely combines MindManager with GTD, therefore using a mind mapping tool for a complete GTD process, if interested I will write more in the near future, just say the word 😉

  4. @Argey: unless you are advertising topicscape by this comment, I suppose you are just a big fan of them ;-)…

    It’s pretty common to mistake the software as the process. You can draw a mind map by hand, and still read from what point you want to what point you want… As opposed to a sequential file where you can only read by the start at the end….

    @Dave: thanks, glad you liked it 🙂 Thanks for linking to it also 😉 appreciate it!

  5. That’s a great meeting template – I’ll be using it!

    You said “A mind map can be read from any point to any point. There are as many beginnings and ends to your document as the potentiality of your ideas”. I agree, but I don’t think Tony Buzan does…

    I’m using Topicscape because, although it lets you start at one point and radiate out, it doesn’t force you to stay that way. You can center the 3D mindmap on any topic. “Radiant” is really good for learning, and when kicking off and new thought process or plan, but it’s really restrictive when you’re using mindmapping for business.


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