Another productivity booster for me is the mind mapping software Mindmanager. I had been using this easy to use and powerful software since 2005. Back then, when it was still in its version 5.0, I was using it in tandem with my IBM X41 Tablet PC. Despite the fact that the software was first conceptualized for desktop and laptop use, it had ink optimization that allows pen input using a Tablet PC.
As an IT guru in my organization, I am often asked about my workflow especially with the old Tablet PC. I simply got tired of all the questions that in 2005, I wrote a handout to answer their questions once and for all. The handout entitled "How to configure your Laptop for Success" was planned, outlined, and executed using Mindmanager 5.0. You can see the mindmap of that project below. You can click on the image to see a higher res version.
Today, before I start on any project, my first stop would be in Mindmanager which I have upgraded to their version 6.0 as soon as it was released last year. It is more powerful than your basic outliner since it jibes well with the way our minds work as described in Wikipedia.
I have used Mindmanager from simply doodling, taking notes, brainstorming, and even as a presentation visual aid totally replacing PowerPoint on certain occasions. Even without my Tablet PC, I am still using the software with my Macbook but on the XP side under Parallels.
I read an article yesterday by Marc Orchant describing the new features in the upcoming version, Mindmanager 7.0, which will be released on May 30th. He enumerated the following new features which to me are reasons enough to upgrade:
- Fluid UI: With MindManager 7, the developer has adopted the Office 2007 style "ribbon" interface which Microsoft has officially named the Fluid UI. Like the ribbon in the core Office 2007 applications, MindManager's new UI exposes the tools used to create and work with maps without the need for hierarchical menus and stacked toolbars.
- Saved views: I love this feature. I can set up a specific view of any of my maps (some of which tend to be very involved) and save it. As I'm working with or presenting a map, I can quickly "jump" to any pre-arranged view I'd like. This is a tremendous timesaver.
- Focus on topic: Select a topic on your map and click on this command to automatically center the currently-selected topic in the workspace and collapses all other map branches.
- Enhanced MS Office integration: The "insert" tab in the ribbon now allows you to create new Outlook tasks, appointments, contacts and notes, from within a MindManager map. You can also insert a range of spreadsheet cells using the Excel range button on the Insert tab.
- Topic sorting: In MindManager 7 you can now sort topics by alphanumeric order, alphabetic only, on task completion percentage, or on task priority. You can specify the sorting "depth" - subtopics only, the entire branch, or for the entire map.
- Topic styles: MindManager 7 now enables you to create named topic styles, based on the format of the currently-selected map topic. This is an incredible time-saver that lets you quickly reformat the appearance of map topics. It's similar to the way styles work in Microsoft Word.
- Viewing: A number of small, but very useful controls have been added including the ability to drag the map around in the workspace window by clicking on and dragging the central topic. There are ribbon controls for fitting the map to the window, balancing the map branches, and other layout and viewing options that were buried in menus and dialog boxes in previous versions.
Anyone that I have demonstrated this software to swears by its usefulness and ease of use. You can try Mindmanager for free or, like me, try another company's free online mapping software Mindmeister which does not require you to download any software. With Mindmeister and Skype, you can now collaborate online on a single mindmap. Now, that is productivity at its finest. Did I say that Mindmeister is free?
If you haven't tried mind mapping before, give either a spin. I guarantee you that it will save you a lot of time when working on your projects. I forgot to mention that MindManager has a Mac version as well.