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Mindmanager, an excellent GTD tool? Win free licenses! - What's the next action

Mindmanager, an excellent GTD tool? Win free licenses!

25 10 06 - 17:28 - Bookmark this post

It is no surprise that since I received my free copy of MindJet’s MindManager (MM), I have been using this program like crazy. And I must say, it is a very diverse and broad application which you can use in a variety of ways. What I would like to do is not run you through all the features and possibilities of MM but use it as a guideline through the five steps of GTD and see how you can use it. If you need to know what Mindmapping is or need a feature-rich review of MindManager, please check out MindJet’s tour on their website.

After the review, you will have the chance to win one of five copies of MindManager Version 6 Pro, so stick around!

Collection

When you start up MM, you see a big blue box labelled “Central Topic”. Call this “Inbox” and just start typing away ideas. How? Press Enter, type, press Enter. Vavooom! There it is. Another idea? Do these steps again. Very easy, very intuitive. Never mind the order of ideas, typos, double entries. I used this for a big RAMump a couple of days ago and it gave me 58 boxes (they call them topics) with blurbs of text, ideas, short notes, thoughts. Just as you would find in a regular Inbox. You can also import Word-documents with lists or headers, or your Outlook tasks. All with the click of a button.

Are you not that familiair with the Mindmap view? Switch over to Outline view and you can do the same, but in a more wordprocessor-kind of way. For collecting, MindManager is a nice start. The downside is you need to start MindManager, open up the right map and enter the information. Very time consuming. So Gyronix made a fabulous add-on called GyroQ. With this you can add ideas to a dump-map from anywhere on your PC, without opening MindManager. I will review this add-on on a later date. Keep an eye on our webfeed when it shows up!

Process

After you have entered all your ideas in a mindmap, it is time to process the thoughts. Is MM the tool to do this? Well, that depends…The main thought behind the Processing step is “What is it and is there an action attached to it?” That is something a program can’t always answer for you. What you can do and what I do is take the processing and organizing step together. The fun part of MM is you can play around with all the topics and drag and drop them next to each other. What I do is I make a few more mindmaps. I am still thinking if I should make 1 big mindmap with all my projects or different mindmaps per project. Right now I am using one big mindmap with all my projects as topics. I open both my Inbox mindmap and my projectmindmap. With the option “Arrange” I can put them right next to each other. Than the fun begins. For every topic in my Inbox I ask myself “Is there a Next Action?” If that is so, I put it in the projectmindmap with the appropriate project.
Plus what I do is I add a Map Marker called Next Action. I use a clock icon for this but you are free to make any other icon. If my topic is a Waiting for, I do the same thing but I give it another Map Marker, called “Waiting for”. You can do this for all your topics. Ofcourse you can rename them, change the blurb of text in a more sensible action and always rearrange them.
Also, you can make Map markers for your contexts. As you can see, you can add as many Map Markers to one topic as you need or want.

I don’t use MM directly as a resource for projectmaterial, but the great thing is, you can add shortcuts to folders on your PC where you keep the projectmaterial. Or you can add a shortcut to a webpage or some other part of the Mindmap. Also you can add “Topic alerts” as an alternative for your ticklerfile or calendar. I haven’t used this myself since I need Outlook for this. I use MM only for my personal projects and I don’t use Outlook for that.

So MM is not a program for all your GTD-material, but it can act as a dashboard, a startingpoint. Very powerful.

Organize

Now, why did I use these Map Markers to define the topics? Very simple, in every mindmap, you can filter on Map Markers. So, if you want to see all your Next Actions in your house, simply filter on those Map Markers and you have your list. Click the image for a full view of the powerfilter.


The good thing is, this not only works in Mapview, but also in Outline view. So you really have a list of your actions, to-calls, errands or waiting-fors on your projects. Print it and you’re ready to go! All we need to find is a seamless solution to connect to the Hipster-PDA movement and the result can be very interesting. MM in itself has the power to be really organized. You can drag topics around, link them to eachoter, give them notes. It is really up to yourself how you wish to organize your material in MM, the possibilities are there. The main categories, Projects, Contexts, Next Actions and Waiting For, are made with Map Markers.

Review

The Review part is something that doesn’t matter what tool you use. It all comes down to willpower and a way to hold the world back for a couple of hours :-) But seriously, yes, I think you can use MM as a tool to review your Next Actions, Waiting For’s etc., as long as it is a system that is complete and current. This is a problem with all tools you use. If you don’t continue using them, your Weekly Reviews will start lagging and the whole system will fall apart. Same with MM. If you plan to use it as your system, make sure you can and will go all the way. Otherwise, don’t bother.

To review your actions and project, simply use the Mind Markers and the Powerfilter. One big advantage of MM is it forces you to focus on individual projects. Because of the way it is designed, with topics and subtopics, intuitively you start to focus in on projects and the actions involved. This is a very big plus in MM for me. I also use MM for my list of responsibilities at the various levels (10,00 feet up to 40,000 feet). I am still working on them but I feel MM gives me the power and the easy tools to really work on this.

*Do*

The Do phase is most of time something you work out of your system. You make the phonecall, you go clean the garage, you buy catfood. But MM is also a very handy tool for the Natural Planning Process which is part in mostly all of your projects. You can use it to brainstorm some ideas. MM is not a word processor or a webbrowser, so don’t bother if you’re looking for as a swiss armyknife which does all. But it has a built-in brainstorm-function. This gives you the whiteboard to work on your brainstorm ideas and review them later.

The good

About

This is an article which is part of my weblog "What's the Next Action". It deals with everything GTD and the five phases of projectplanning as written by Dave Allen in his book "Getting Things Done".

The previous article on this blog is called 'Scrybe is the killer GTD app?'.
The next article on this blog is called '3 days left for a FREE Mindmanager license'.
You can find all the articles on the frontpage.
You can contact me via email

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