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Mapping Projects View (10,000') and Beyond

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  • Mapping Projects View (10,000') and Beyond

    This is my first post to a GTD forum. I stumbled onto a methodology for getting a handle on my projects view (at the 10,000' level and for individual projects) and thought I'd share. If this has appeared elsewhere, my apologies for any redundancy. I've attached sample PDFs - if anyone wants the actual mind manager files email me and I'll send them along.

    I use MindManager 6 for capturing visual notes and really like the ability to create links within maps (to other maps, websites, files, etc.) When I first setup my GTD (paper) system, I had a single list of projects for each next action category (for example: clients, business development, personal development, family/friends, etc.) One thing about this setup that made me crazy was that I could never see all of my projects in one view.

    To solve that problem, I transferred all of my projects (personal and professional) to a single mind manager map (Projects-Overview.pdf, attached to this post - client names were replaced with numbers for privacy). Then I started moving things around, recreating categories (which become contexts for next actions), etc. When I was done, I realized I finally had a whole life view of all my committments (admittedly by accident). I also had a more appropriate set of contexts for my specific needs.

    Then I started creating maps for individual projects. For complicated projects I used the funnel timeline I learned about in a (free) MindJet webinar with one of the gentlemen who created ResultsManager. I've attached a sample funnel map for one of my client's email campaigns (sample-funnel-map.pdf). The cool thing is that MindManager 6 easily links the 10,000' view (my projects map) to the actual project map (the little blue icon is the link to another map). In one view I can see all of my projects and, in one click I can see the individual project map.

    I've included a second map - Sample-Trigger-Map.pdf - as well. I use this format to trigger next actions when I'm responsible for most of them (the funnel time line works well for teams and when a lot of the actions are being done by others).

    If you really want to go down the rabbit hole, you can then link to other mind maps, link to websites, link to supporting documents, add notes, import emails, link to book note maps, etc. I have found the ability to link information provides such rapid access that I don't worry about finding data (or forgetting a great idea or useful resource).

    I'm continually amazed how quickly this system lets me get a high-level view of my committments while also letting me dig down to individual projects in one click, then have all the resources for those projects immediately available from a central map. I also create idea maps (basically brain dumps), and can then link project maps to those (as well as link to meeting notes, upcoming meeting agendas, etc.) The cross-linking (or external linking to websites and documents) is infinitely expandable and can be tailored to anyone's needs.

    I also print the 10,000' view and keep it updated weekly in my 3-ring binder (as I mentioned, my system is mostly paper-based). Funnel project timelines are printed once and then updated with check marks as next actions are complete. The same is true for trigger project lists. And, as I check off an item from my next actions lists it's really easy to add the next next action because everything is so easily accessible.

    If you're a visual person I think you'll love this system. Mind Manager 6 is available for a 30-day free trial if you'd like to take it for a spin. Having had time to use GTD methodologies with and without MindManager I can say that, for me, using MindManager this way has made me significantly more productive while simultaneously giving me a much greater understanding of my 10,000' view. It's difficult to explain, but seeing everything in one place allowed me to really understand my committments, realize where I need to focus, know intuitively if anything is missing, etc. I hope others can find value in this system as well.

    Attached Files

  • #2
    Very nice. As a 'strong' visual learner your implementation is a pleasure to see and walk through.

    Keep up the good work.


    • #3
      Nice work
      Am I correct in my observation that you are not in fact tracking next actions on your maps (with the exception of those attached to your large projects?)
      If not, where do you track those? On paper.
      If my read is right, you track your 10,000+ in MM and then use those maps during weekly review to generate NA's which you list elsewhere?


      • #4
        the short answer to tracking next actions is "it depends". I use three types of project-tracking devices - the funnel map (which is detailed with every single next action and waiting for item), the trigger map (where items aren't necessarily dependant on one another for completion), and a linear project map (from DIYPlanner). I use the latter for smaller projects and/or when completing one action mentally triggers the next action on the list.

        For example - one of the entries on my 10,000' view map is "hickory flooring". I purchased hickory logs from a local logger, had them sent to the mill to be sawed, then sent to the kiln to be dried, then sent to another mill to be turned into flooring. Instead of creating a map for that, I used a DIY Planner project template to list next actions. That was easier for me because there was plenty of lag time between stages (for example, the wood was in the kiln for four weeks giving me time to find a person to pick up and deliver the wood to the mill).

        I collect all of these project collection points in a 3-ring binder. Tabs are calendar, next actions, projects, goals, and info (goals are the 20,000' and 30,000' views, info are GTD-related articles and notes from seminars, audio interviews, etc.) My next actions lists mirror my projects map - my contexts are Clients, Business Development, Personal Development, Family & Friends, etc. which makes it really easy to transfer actions from projects to next actions lists.

        In many ways this appears to be a weird system because it's very digital on one hand (especially to get the benefits of cross-linking maps), and also paper based. To compensate, I find myself adding items to project maps in my binder by hand, occasionally, and then updating the original maps during a weekly review. My concern was that would add a lot of time to that process but to date, it hasn't.