Nov 16, 2009

Navigation for your mind

I'm an ardent believer of mindmaps. I have been creating a lot of mindmaps in my professional and student life. Whenever I need to work on a presentation or a report on a relatively new topic, mindmaps have proved to be very helpful. As I read up on different aspects related to this topic from various sources, I create nodes with the information I have collected. After a thorough research, my mindmap is filled with little nuggets of information in a somewhat organized fashion. Once I sit down to write the report or make the presentation, I just need to refer to this huge mindmap and prepare the material as needed. This last step takes little time compared to earlier days when I used to open a document and start collecting my research notes directly and then organize the content in a presentable manner.

In projects or tasks where you have little prior knowledge or the outcome is not very clear, mindmaps help to take the next set of actions and capture the details in a single place. At present, I'm working on a presentation on an industry about which I have little prior knowledge. I have been doing a lot of secondary research, reading up market research reports and press releases. In my mindmap, the root node is the industry. The first level child nodes are market statistics, key players, revenue models, current differentiating factors and challenges.

I also have two child nodes -
- Ideas to capture my personal thoughts as I work on this project and
- parking lot to capture interesting tidbits and facts

These child nodes then branch further into more data and information gathered in the past few days. I also highlight important points as I build the mindmap. When I work on the powerpoint deck, I find it extremely easy to sort out the relevant details and organize the presentation.

I have two mindmap softwares in my laptop - XMind and FreeMind. Both are easy to use and very intuitive. You can also export the mindmaps to jpg files or pdfs.

Mindmaps help to sort out relevant knowledge from the overload of information we get from various sources. I highly recommend using mindmaps for any kind of research, exploratory or academic work.

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