Plan your Day with Mind Maps

Projects

Mind maps may look like a brain explosion, but they’re actually quite simple and underused.

 

I have posted some thoughts on this subject before on 2 occasions (Apps @ Work, Excel UML) and these days I use mind maps as a task list and visual relationship tool to plan my day.

Why do I use it? Simply because I have so many random thoughts and it’s quite often difficult to organise them in my head. Mind maps help structure all those thoughts and add associations where they apply. Let’s look at specifics.

How I use Mind Maps

In projects, we have a project manager who keeps a plan for the entire team on what needs to get done when. I lead the charge on several large pieces of work as a business analyst and I use mind maps to keep a track of things.

The distinction of roles and tools go something like this:

Role Activities Tool
Project Manager Planning. What by when, by who etc. MS Project, Excel
Business Analyst Mind Map. What by when. by who…AND I keep track of where the dependencies are, activity status etc. Excel

[Not exhaustive but an indication of what we do]

The Morning Plan

Each morning we go through our morning huddle and the project manager lays out his plan and calls out each piece of work. When my turn comes around, I pull out my mind map and spell out my activities and call out any risks, assumptions, issues, dependencies etc. as noted in my mind map.

In addition to this, when a piece of information is called by another member, the mind map helps me correlate that piece of information with any item on my path.

Updates to my task list through the mind map is an activity I manage but any changes to major information such as timeframes, top-line activities are called out to the project manager who makes changes to his plan (where applicable).

I make updates to my plan everyday and print out a new one when required (usually when the old one is looking like a mess).

The Mind Map

I am so happy with this approach that I have now created a mind map for this site which looks something like this:

MMA MM

 

Here’s a link to the entire sheet if you want to see the full mind map: MMA Plan

There are so many tools out there for this BUT I was able to fire this up in Excel in less than 10 minutes. In fact the most difficult part about this is noting all the activities.

Components of my Mind Map

Those large numbers denote priority and I I’ll try to create posts in that order. Tech is first cab of the rank and I will make post as often as I can in this category:


I have check boxes on each activity, which I tick off after each task is completed (and I archive completed tasks at later stage). In the example above, I plan to have a Design and Front End guy for my interviews section.

Since I haven’t approached anyone yet, I have a completion status of 0%. Once I have identified a candidate then I might move that to 20%. And of course once the interview is completed it goes to 100% with a check in the box provided.

I have that red line running through to denote that I can use my tech posts as a segue to the interviews (as they’re related).

I run through each of my tasks this way on a daily basis at work (but it’s far more complex than this) and thought to organise myself a little bit better and do it for this blog too.

Do you use mind map in any way shape or form as part of your day? Would like to hear about it.

End note: The mind map above is an indication of what I intend to do. I’ll most likely switch around activities at some point.

PC

3 thoughts on “Plan your Day with Mind Maps

    1. I actually had xmind in an old laptop but haven’t installed it in the new one. On the ipad I use MindNode as my number 1 with Simple Minds and Mindmeister as backups. (Tools aside, there are times I take meeting minutes on a pen and paper using mind maps)

      I guess the reason why we use excel is the ease of data transfer into a project plan. That plus the fact that I do share it with other people to (some of them might make updates).

      If it was up to me, I would use Google Docs more often for the sharing and concurrency features.

      Thanks for writing in Tim :)

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