To keep my day going on track, I track work and progress in as simple form as possible. There are many tools available to link work together with other work so people can see how efforts effect other parts of a project. ToDo lists work great.
Before we get to a check list of what the day holds, and even before anyone works on a project plan – we map out what we are trying to get done and the many parts of what will make our finished deliverable a success.
A great tool to do this is MindMaps. For anyone who is not familiar with MindMaps, think of it as a core deliverable with all of the parts that make it possible spidering out from the center. There are thousands of books on the subject and many software titles available to help. A whiteboard is all you really need to set one up with a group, but software is nice if you need to share or change later.
If you look around on the Internet for MindMapping posts, you will find that people can really get into the process. They put descriptions on each of the spider legs and all kinds of fun drawings. For us, here, let’s keep it very simple and explore what you can say with just one word.
Mind Maps are more compact than conventional notes, often taking up one side of paper. This helps you to make associations easily. And if you find out more information after you have drawn the main Mind Map, then you can easily add it in.
Mind Maps are also useful for:
* Summarizing information.
* Consolidating information from different research sources.
* Thinking through complex problems.
* Presenting information in a format that shows the overall structure of your subject.
A couple of the better known MindMapping software solutions are: www.thinkbuzan.com and www.mindjet.com/ – they both offer all kinds of videos and instructions.
Information Tamers has a very nice article taking your through the process of simple to very detailed. Not being wrapped around a particular software, the post is about the how and why for using MindMaps.
Since, so many great ideas start when your not at your desktop or in front of a whiteboard, there are a couple nice apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch. There are actually about a dozen apps, but these two are ones I actually use because they make it easy to share via a free box.net account (you can also upload to your desktop via your wireless network or email). The outputs can be an image or PDF if you just want to show someone your ideas, or they can be imported into your desktop MindMapping app.
The smaller screens force me to keep the lines to one word. Let’s see if I can stick to that when using the apps on a iPad when it comes out.