Monday, November 9, 2009

Low-cost creative productivity tool #2: Mind-mapping software

Problem: High volume of disorganized information and thoughts.
Solution: Mind-mapping software.

Once upon a time (18 months ago), our site architecture needed a complete overhaul. Hundreds of links had to be sorted out into new categories, some needed to be deleted, and other pages needed to be researched and created. Papers, charts and lists were spread over my desk.

If only I knew then about mind-mapping software (thanks to a Get-It-Done Guy podcast). By creating an organizational tree with branches and nodes that can be opened and collapsed, moved, color-coded and deleted, it is much easier to visually identify themes and eliminate weak or redundant ideas.

I first tried it out a few months ago when re-organizing our H1N1 site from a chronological series of lengthy e-mail messages to a more sensible resource site with sections on our institution's response, what to do if H1N1 affects you personally, and information on the virus itself from other organizations. Mind-mapping software allowed me to simplify the content and present it in a more complete, user-friendly manner.

Now I'm hooked—there is potential for organizing lengthy articles, presentations, publication design and other creative materials. I use FreeMind, which is available Mac and Windows versions, but there are many of free and low-cost options out there.

Previously in this series: Low-cost creative productivity tool #1: Google Docs

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