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Mapping the canyons of your mind...
21 Jul 2011 22:44     A+ | a-

OK, turn off that 60's psychedelic music, this is serious. A few years ago I asked a number of friends and colleagues if they knew of good “To do” list software, which would allow for flexible note-making, and reorganisation of priorities.  A number of suggestions were made and followed up, but none quite provided the flexibility I was looking for.

Then I came across mind-mapping software and tried a few commercial offerings before finding the excellent open source Freemind, and an offshoot, Freeplane.  Although I may yet be tempted to pay for a commercial product (particularly if it allows effective transfer to my Android phone), I have found Freeplane to be intuitive, effective and reliable. Running as a Java application (and therefore compatible across Windows, IOS and Linux platforms) it allows complete freedom in the creation and arrangement of thoughts, and as such, provides near-perfect “To do” list functionality.

I have also come to rely on it for any situation where I need to set out some initially vague thoughts and bring structure to them, for example: fee proposals, methodologies, unusual reports, research proposals and so on. 

When my eldest daughter was going for a job and was asked to prepare a short presentation for the interview, describing how she would deal with particular issues relating to the job, I suggested that a mind map would marshal and present her thoughts.  She used Freeplane and came up with a compelling, structured argument, presented both onscreen and in a handout.  After the interview, I asked if there had been any comments about the mindmap and was disappointed to find that there were none, but the great news was that she got the job.  In a later discussion about the interview, it turned out that her future employers had been impressed and wondered, ‘how on earth she had produced that excellent map thingy...’ ;-)

Freeplane Mindmap
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