It’s summertime and every afternoon lately, as I head outside with my lunch, I’m thinking that my lazy mind needs a nap, but that thought aside I’ve been hunting for some free, web-based, information organization tools that I can use to plan out some projects I have due at work and some projects I’m working on at home. Inspired by a “Get It Done Guy” podcast entitled “Streamline Your Writing Using Outline Tools”, I decided to take Stever up on his tip and locate something that will allow me to outline my thoughts, organize them as headings, subheadings, etc., add content, notes, links and other bits of detail to each group, and then easily export it all to MS Word for more traditional writing or share it with collaborators, colleagues or friends.
There are a LOT of mind mapping tools available, but I don’t want to put any money down on any particular one until I’ve convinced myself that the process will work for me. I do think visually, so an outline makes sense, but generally I don’t use them when writing reports or articles or blog posts. However, I’m working on my memoir right now – a project I started several months ago. This is clearly the lengthiest thing I’ve every written and I’m also finding that I don’t necessarily write it in chronological order. There are stories that I think of and need to write out while the detail is at hand. There are stories that I think I want to give detail to in the future. Thus, over time I’m collecting quite a jumble of pieces that I know, in time, will come together but now while they’re not, I need a way to organize them. Saving them as different files on my computer or as paragraphs in the manuscript highlighted in different colors only goes so far. I think I’ll give this mapping idea a try.
I started this afternoon by trying several options before settling on Mind42.com. I drew a quick sketch (map) of my upcoming 3-day holiday weekend, breaking down activities into different categories and color-coding them accordingly. It was very easy to do and a start towards seeing if this is something that will work for me. If you have any experience using mind maps for project organization or writing, please share them in the comments section of this post. It would be nice to see how others use them.