Using Mind Maps for Project Management
As any experienced project manager knows, keeping track of all of a project’s moving pieces can be a full-time job. Most business owners and bloggers don’t have lots of time or resources to commit to solo projects, so it may feel like you’re always stuck trying to remember that great idea you had last week.
Mind maps are a visual note-taking and brainstorming tool that can help you build on ideas. Using a mind map is an excellent way to visualize your tasks and come up with new, creative ideas to simplify day-to-day work. By getting clear on what needs to get done to reach a goal, you’re much more likely to complete your work on time and on budget.
One of the benefits of using mind map apps is that you can start a mind map wherever you are and watch your ideas grow before your eyes. This is a great way to capture the gist of a project that you want to flesh out later. Using images, icons, and symbols can help you visualize connections you may not make if you were using a conventional note-taking app.
Mind maps can be used for planning new campaigns, working on existing projects, and managing ongoing tasks. Unlike a linear to-do list, a mind map helps you break down complex projects into smaller, digestible pieces. Creating a mind map can engage your excitement and eliminate the feeling of being overwhelmed in the early stages of project planning.
Keep your projects high level with one large mind map, or create individual mind maps for each project. The choice is yours! If you’re feeling stuck on a project, brain dumping into a mind map can help bring a fresh perspective to your next steps.
Putting Your Goals Into Action
Placing a goal in the middle of your mind map is a great way to get the creative juices flowing.
If you’re looking to build a profitable blog or turn a hobby into a business, mind mapping can help make your dreams a reality. Transitioning from the ideation stage to the work stage of a project can quickly become overwhelming without a plan. If planning isn’t your strong suit, using a mind map can help you draw out your ideas and form a cohesive strategy.
The path to success with a new idea isn’t always clear. With your goal front and center, it can be easier to visualize what steps you need to take to reach it. Seeing the different ways you can achieve your goal can inspire passion and drive that doesn’t come from a lengthy to-do list.
Drawing a master mind map with all your goals can help you visualize what tasks overlap. Seeing the most impactful tasks or ideas directs your energy so you can get more done in less time.
Break Down Big Ideas Into Small StepsOne of the toughest parts about starting a new project is knowing where to jump in. When inspiration strikes, you may not know everything that goes into making a website or designing a process. Mind maps are a powerful tool for thinking out all the smaller pieces that go into a large project. By thinking of your project in terms of the day-to-day tasks, it’s easier to create a realistic timeline for your launch date. Plus, laying out your ideas helps you see where you may need outside help or where extra expenses might come up, allowing you to prepare for what’s ahead with confidence. Even though you aren’t tracking your ideas in a step by step way, a mind map can help you decide which steps to take first. Creating bite-sized tasks can also help your group work so you can make more progress in less time. Seeing all your main ideas out in front of you helps you work out the details of your project without losing sight of the big picture. If you agree on the subtopics of your project, you’re less likely to work on tasks that are out of scope or won’t move the needle. Rather than creating a whole strategy and writing out your tasks on a mind map, recording keywords can help you reconceptualize what you need to get done and ake new routes to tackling your goals.
Using Keywords Rather Than Sentences
Part of what makes linear thinking so limited is using sentences and phrases. When you’re writing out a complete thought, you slow down your thought process. Rather than following the flow, you’re trying to get the exact idea down so you don’t forget it.
With mind mapping, using keywords helps your brain make new associations and draw new connections. Keep in mind that you can always clean up your mind map later! Setting timed brainstorming sessions lets you free write any subtopics, branches, and keywords without restriction.
Using keywords with a mind map system can save you time as well. Rather than pausing to write out complete ideas and search for the right words, adding keywords that connect allow you to get ideas down on the page in a way that aligns with your natural thinking pattern.
Mind map software is a great way to take notes, draw connections with visual icons, and share your thoughts with others. If you’re brainstorming for yourself, using a piece of paper or a whiteboard work as well and engage your mind in a more creative way.
Managing Teams With Mind Maps
One of the toughest parts of project management is keeping everyone involved on the same page. If one person’s deliverable is dependent on another’s, maintaining a running list of what tasks need to be done when can be exhausting.
Mind map software can make it easy to delegate responsibilities while brainstorming your project.
Keeping track of who is doing what is often the most frustrating part of a meeting. As you add subtopics to your mind maps, you can easily assign tasks to different meeting attendees by giving each attendee a dedicated color. Using mind maps for meetings can help you get more done during meeting times and help your attendees retain more of the meeting’s takeaways when they review the mind map.
When you’re using a shared mind map to track a project, assigning a color for completed tasks can give you a quick look at how the project is progressing. From there, you can easily prioritize the tasks left to be done and distribute the work accordingly.
If you’re working alone, coloring circles can remind you which tasks you need to outsource. Color coding subtopics can show you the full scope of where you need a specific person’s assistance. For example, if yellow is assigned to an animator, you can simply look at your mind map and address all the tasks you need her help with during your interview.
Using a mind map to track your project’s progress can help keep your whole team in scope and on track for success.
Creating BoundariesWhen you have big projects on your plate, it’s easy to get distracted with smaller tasks or tangentially-related work. If you spend all day putting out little fires, it’s difficult to finish the bigger projects you set out to do. Staying in scope makes all the difference when you’re starting a new project. If you have a hard time maintaining boundaries, defining your scope, and staying within it, a mind map can help you. Otherwise, you may end up pushing out your project multiple times to accommodate new tasks. Mind mapping makes it easy to keep your eye on the prize. If you’re brainstorming a new project with the team, use that initial mind map as a north star to guide your project. When new considerations or tasks come up, return to your mind map and see where they fit into your project. If you can’t find a place for them, the idea is out of scope and is likely more appropriate for the next stage of your project. Remember: you can’t get it all done at once! An imperfect completed project is better than a project done perfectly but that never gets launched. Keeping your team on track and completing your primary objectives is much easier with a mind map that reminds you of your priorities. Having your scope clearly defined makes completing your project more realistic and makes it easier to gain buy-in if you’re seeking fundraising or support.
Design Engaging Presentations
Aside from using your mind maps with your internal team members or contractors, mind mapping software can help you create beautiful and engaging presentations too.
The death of most presentations happens when you’re reading directly off a slide show. Instead, you can impress your clients with your clear thinking by presenting a mind map. Since this design follows how your brain works, you can use the mind map for reference while talking naturally about how the project will progress.
Creating a mind map is a great way to work through a decision-making process and demonstrate a natural mental progression to make your case. Whether you’re working together to come to a decision or you’re presenting why someone should work with you, a mind map can help you build a powerful presentation that leaves your new client eager to sign on the dotted line.
Seeing how you work and knowing your thought process can give new clients peace of mind when they’re beginning a project with you. Seeing that you’ve thought out the details while leaving parts of your presentation open for discussion demonstrates your collaborative nature and big picture thinking.
With mind map apps or software, you can even link your mind maps together, making tracking a project’s progression, from initial kickoff presentation to completion, clear and aligned all along the way.