Forum

  • If you are new to these Forums, please take a moment to register using the fields above.

Announcement

Announcement Module
Collapse
No announcement yet.

How to get from mind map to working project?

Page Title Module
Move Remove Collapse
X
Conversation Detail Module
Collapse
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • How to get from mind map to working project?

    Hi,

    I'm having trouble with the 'organize' step. For many projects I'm not exactly sure what to do.

    I am able to draw up mind maps for all projects with no problems, but I'm not really sure what to do with it after that.

    For smaller projects I often end up with a list that might be called, "Actions I probably have to do sometime before this project can be called done." The NAs are usually pretty obvious from there, but with bigger projects I feel I need to be more organized than that.

    The 'organize' step as described in GTD seems a bit vague to me, I'm not really sure how to go about it.

    I guess what I'm looking for is some kind of "How to get a project under control" checklist. What is your normal 'organize' stage like?

  • #2
    If a project is really big (corporate projects) then you'll need to use real project management tools like gannt charts etc to manage stages, multiple interacting teams of employees etc.

    Assuming it's not that size of a project, I suggest you just keep the mindmap as a 'project plan'. You should be able to identify all the things on the mindmap that map to actions that need to be done (if you can't really see actions yet, for example because you have an end-node that says "backup system needed", than continue mindmapping to expand that node)

    Then just look at the mindmap and identify next-actions (things you could start doing without having to do something else first). During weekly reviews or at regular intervals, you look at the mindmap again and identify new next actions.

    Comment


    • #3
      If you've mind-mapped, and still don't know what to do, then either:

      1. You haven't mind-mapped enough.

      2. You need to do something other than mind map.

      Mind maps don't help me organize. I've tried mind-mapping stories that I want to write, and it didn't help me organize nearly as well as did writing down lots of disconnected ideas, then writing a high-level outline as I stared at those ideas.

      But of course, that's just my own experience.

      Comment


      • #4
        No Mindmaps for me

        I have learned that I do not do well with visual manifestations of my projects. For me a mindmap never works because I just flat don't think visually. Odd for person who does a lots of stuff that is artistic or would seem to lend itself to mind maps.

        For me organize for major projects requires a detailed outline. And I often have to nap on it to get it right. One of the best benefits of being self employed person is that I have cultivated the ability to take a mid afternoon nap. It's mostly a way to recharge and I've learned to always have a notepad and pen sitting on my lap for the thoughts that pop up.

        I need to write details down on a very hierarchical outline to organize large projects with many dependent sub-projects. You might give it a try and see if that helps.

        Comment


        • #5
          If you really want to map out ideas (like for a story) then mindmaps are imho not the best tool. A mindmap is still hierarchical, It's just not flat, so you can easily expand any node at any given time. If you're making flat hierarchical lists, this take more effort, especially on paper.

          Mind maps experts often say that the brain works associatively (which is true) but they fail to mention that mind maps do not allow you to make alll associations. Your mind maps tons of non-hierarchical associations of the form A connected to B, B to C and C to A (and much more complicated) and mind maps do not allow this (software like Personal Brain does allow this btw. maybe you should give this a try)

          I don't think mind maps work for stories because you have for example characters which are all related to quite a few others in some way. Sure, you can find a hierarchy to order these, but it wouldn't be just one hierarchy, but more like 10 or so. You just can't order things like characters and events. mind maps experts would tell you to order them with the specific purpose of the mindmap in mind, but that doesn't work well for stories because you just want an overview of your book and there are just so many different specific purposes for that, that you'd have to make tens of mindmaps.

          The downside of truely associative mapping software like personalbrain is of course that there's no way to display everything at once. In some cases a 3D structure might suffice, but once the map gets more complicated, even that wouldn't work. In personalbrain they just show you a local part of the map in the interface.

          Comment


          • #6
            Thanks for your responses. I think what was missing was an intermediate step between mindmaps and actions. What I'm doing now (which seems to be working so far) is take the mindmap and draft a sheet of roughly sequential actions, with question marks where the next step isn't clear. I can then attack each question mark as its own little puzzle.

            When I hammer those out, I can draw up a cleaner, final action sequence if the project deserves it.

            None of my projects are immensely complex, and I haven't hit any snags with this method so far.

            Comment


            • #7
              Mindmaps and sequence of actions

              There have been discussions on other threads on how the next action is only a bookmark and that there is no need to write a sequence of actions for your whole project, just the next action in your list.

              I have a tendency to write or to want to see sequences of actions, but now I´m experimenting with this "only NEXT action on my list" rule to see if it makes things run smoother because the world around me changes so rapidly that after action 1 has been taken, maybe my action 2 will look totally different because of changing situations and/or new information and all my previous planning was a waste of time.

              However, I have many projects where either it is very easy for me to think of a sequence of actions rapidly and I really want to take a note of those thoughts somewhere. And sometimes the project is more complex and it´s difficult to see what would those actions be exactly and in which order.

              In both cases I brainstorm into a mindmap, writing my desired outcome in the middle and then around it either "sub-desired outcomes" that have to do different parts and keep adding branches to my mind map, not caring too much about whether different "levels" are of the same type, about any sequential order, hierarchy, connections or anything. Since my projects are not very complex, after a while at least some action branches come up.

              When I don´t feel like anything else is coming up, I take a short break and then look at the mind map with a different "mindset", now asking myself: "So, what´s next?" ... and with a pen that has a color that stands out well, I put an arrow next to the parts that are clearly first next actions and are not sequential to each other in any way and/or don´t belong to the same context. Those (and ONLY those) go to my NA lists by context, the rest stays in the mind map without any further processing.

              After doing my first actions, further actions either come up naturally and go to my lists. When I need to review my earlier ideas or if I feel stale about the project, I go back to the mind map, crossing over done actions and taking a new color for another set of arrows, or, if there are new ideas, I just go on brainstorming again, adding to the same mind map, before getting to my next set of "action arrows" to be included into my lists again.

              The mind map goes to my project support material and I review it only when I feel like it, or occasionally during weekly review, if the project is not progressing as it should. This way the mind map is some sort of a project specific someday-maybe or someday-later list, but without the constraint of having to establish a sequence before things have progressed enough to find the fastest, most productive, reality-adapted sequence of doing things.

              I guess this has to do with how each of us handles information, but this seems to work for me, I hope it´s useful for you.

              Greetings from Spain!

              Comment


              • #8
                Napping

                @Oogiem: I love your napping technique and will use it!

                Before any big meeting or presentation I have to make I take good care NOT to review ANYTHING after sleep but before. That is, all review and rehearsal has to be the night before, and even if my presentation is given in the afternoon, I absolutely prohibit myself to take a look at my notes again in the morning, sleep seems to rearrange things somehow and it´s better not mess with that anymore before the presentation/meeting.

                I´ll take note and use this for non-progressing project plans too, thank you for the tip.

                Which reminds me that it´s late AGAIN and my next action should be getting of the forum and going to sleep....

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by David Cain View Post
                  Hi,

                  I'm having trouble with the 'organize' step. For many projects I'm not exactly sure what to do.

                  I am able to draw up mind maps for all projects with no problems, but I'm not really sure what to do with it after that.

                  For smaller projects I often end up with a list that might be called, "Actions I probably have to do sometime before this project can be called done." The NAs are usually pretty obvious from there, but with bigger projects I feel I need to be more organized than that.

                  The 'organize' step as described in GTD seems a bit vague to me, I'm not really sure how to go about it.

                  I guess what I'm looking for is some kind of "How to get a project under control" checklist. What is your normal 'organize' stage like?
                  Originally posted by David Cain View Post
                  None of my projects are immensely complex,
                  You seem to overemphasize the 'brainstorming' phase (as mindmaps belong there). I assume you know you don't have to do all the 5 phases of the natural planning model -- it's even natural in that you can pick which phases you actually need to do. So I'd vote for putting more emphasis on the 'organizing' phase -- usually this implies hierarchical outlining of some sort, either with a digital outliner (there are a variety of those) or with a pen and paper. Then keep the outline as your project plan in your project's support material. And if your projects are not complex, you could leave out the formal brainstorming completely -- or at least leave out mindmapping. That's what I do for most projects of moderate complexity, as for rather simple ones I don't need any formal vertical planning.

                  Dusan

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I have only been mindmapping for 6 months or so (napping I've been perfecting for a long time), so my experience may only be because I'm a novice. I have found mindmaps to be great if they are not too large and complex. The key topics need to be visible for me.

                    I recently used it to achieve a goal, where I mapped about 8 major projects that I will try to achieve one at a time. The project support material doesn't reside there, just the project ideas and notes that came to me during the mindmapping session. The 2 projects that I'm working on now for that goal have "call outs" I labeled Active Projects (and those two and their next actions are in my separate GTD system). I also made a point to look at this during my weekly review to make certain that I'm actively busy with this goal. This was the first time I mindmapped a goal and it gave me a sense of control and overview. I'll see how it takes.

                    I'm still experimenting with how it works best for me, but I've found smaller mindmaps, even those that link to one another, work best.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I agree

                      Originally posted by sdann View Post
                      I have only been mindmapping for 6 months or so (napping I've been perfecting for a long time), so my experience may only be because I'm a novice. I have found mindmaps to be great if they are not too large and complex. The key topics need to be visible for me.

                      I recently used it to achieve a goal, where I mapped about 8 major projects that I will try to achieve one at a time. The project support material doesn't reside there, just the project ideas and notes that came to me during the mindmapping session. The 2 projects that I'm working on now for that goal have "call outs" I labeled Active Projects (and those two and their next actions are in my separate GTD system). I also made a point to look at this during my weekly review to make certain that I'm actively busy with this goal. This was the first time I mindmapped a goal and it gave me a sense of control and overview. I'll see how it takes.

                      I'm still experimenting with how it works best for me, but I've found smaller mindmaps, even those that link to one another, work best.
                      I try to keep my maps simple and small too. Callouts are ok, but I try to use them sparingly because they catch my eye too much. I find that if I'm drawing "relationship" lines all over the place, that bugs me too.

                      Now here is something that doesn't fit with everything I've just said: I like to put a picture or two in there. I find it just attracts me more.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        @dusanv: small nuance: You do need to do all 5 stages of the natural planning model. In fact, if you don't consciously do anything your mind will try to go through these 5 stages in your head (hence the name natural planning model)
                        It is of course true (and that's probably what you meant) that some projects don't require explicitly, externally doing all 5 stages.
                        For example, when your car engine breaks done, you don't need to brainstorm for solutions on a piece of paper. Your mind will do the brainstorm for you and come up with just a few solutions (probably just a list of car dealers that can fix it)

                        While we're talking about simply mindmaps anyway, did anyone ever see these: http://blog.iqmatrix.com/ ? That site is quite popular (quite a few GTD bloggers regurlarly refer to some new mindmap that's been published there) but personally, I find them horrible :P My eyes burn seeing the colors and cartoons and my brain just melts down trying to make sense of the tightly packed, intermingled, curvy branches. i've always wondered if I'm the only one who thinks of them this way :P

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by RoninTDK View Post
                          @dusanv: small nuance: You do need to do all 5 stages of the natural planning model. In fact, if you don't consciously do anything your mind will try to go through these 5 stages in your head (hence the name natural planning model)
                          It is of course true (and that's probably what you meant) that some projects don't require explicitly, externally doing all 5 stages.
                          Yes, that's exactly what I meant, explicitly, externally doing them. When I later wrote of not doing formal planning of really simple projects, I assumed the word 'formal' implied just that -- I don't plan explicitly, rather let my mind go through the planning phases on its own. In any way, I am sorry for not being precise enough (my bad). I assumed, however, from the original poster's wording of his questions that he in fact had problems with explicitly performing the 'organize' step, hence the lack of clarity/accuracy in my previous post.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by David Cain View Post
                            Hi,

                            I'm having trouble with the 'organize' step. For many projects I'm not exactly sure what to do.

                            I am able to draw up mind maps for all projects with no problems, but I'm not really sure what to do with it after that.

                            For smaller projects I often end up with a list that might be called, "Actions I probably have to do sometime before this project can be called done." The NAs are usually pretty obvious from there, but with bigger projects I feel I need to be more organized than that.

                            The 'organize' step as described in GTD seems a bit vague to me, I'm not really sure how to go about it.

                            I guess what I'm looking for is some kind of "How to get a project under control" checklist. What is your normal 'organize' stage like?
                            I live, work and breathe mind maps (software mind maps that is)... I do all my creative thinking and organising with-in my “Focus Area” collection of mind maps (these maps loosely match the 20,000 ft / Area of focus and responsibility vertical).

                            Smaller projects (like “Get the car serviced”), will “live” with-in a Focus Area map (i.e. “Family / Cars”), more substantial projects like “Add-in update 1.7” will be “housed” in a series of maps, each focusing on one aspect of the project (i.e. planning, development, testing, sales/marketing). I use various “methods” to plan these projects, including the Natural Planning methods suggested with-in GTD, and in all cases once I’ve identified the Next Action, I just “send it” to my GTD List manager (also a mind map).

                            So since, my “project maps” are very tightly linked to my GTD List manager, I don’t spend much time worrying about if things need revisiting or “getting under control”, I just work though my next actions, use intuition and enjoy it. Having said that, if I have a stage with-in a project that has a hard edge (i.e. deadline or critical path etc), I usually create a task in the tree like “Review progress toward ... deadline”, I then date it and “send it” to my “Calendared Later Starts” list, knowing that in my daily and weekly reviews, it will show up.

                            Bottom-line, I don’t specifically follow any set “method” or “process” to plan my projects. However, mind mapping software, when correctly configured, is a very powerful aid to not only brainstorming and clarifying by also in engaging/doing. IMHO.

                            Comment

                            Working...
                            X