Mind Maps are great! Repeat, Mind Maps are very, very great! Let me show you why.

My work often demands me to switch between several tasks. In any given day, I have to work on several different features, bug fixes and analysis. At first, I was using simple text files to keep things organized. But then as the time goes on, this method proved very in-efficient and time consuming.

So I moved to Mind Maps. I use the free Mind Mapping software SciPlore MindMapping (I tried FreeMind too!) to organize my day-to-day notes.

Let me tell How I organize my notes using Mind Map, in the hope that if you are planning to use Mind Map, you’ll have some reference to start.

Starting with the base structure:

Here’s how my top level mind map looks like:

mind mapping structure As you can see, there are three top level nodes under Global:

  1. ***Constants **- *I use this node to store some static information like, stage URLs, test account names, passwords, etc.
  2. **Methods **- This is my knowledge store. I use this node to organize any techniques, or how-to-dos. For example, how to deploy a build on stage, how to remove clearcase views etc.
  3. **Variables **- This is the most happening node in this lot. This is my working space. This node contains my every day-to-day notes and activity logs. So, lets go further into this node and how I organize this one.

Organizing the working directory:

mind-map-working-directoryI further split the *Variables *into several team that I’m part of and year (to reduce the clutter) and to Sprints. At work, we follow Agile methodology, so it is very easy for me to organize notes per Sprint. Again for each sprint, I will work on stories as well as bugs. So, I splitted that too.

Not just organizing, but visually prioritizing tasks

Here comes the good part. SciPlore lets me to put some icons next to each node. There are n-number of little icons that I can use to classify a node. For example, if a task is blocked for some reason, then I can assign a RED SIGNAL icon, so that I can immediately recognize the show-stopper if I come back to this task after switching between several tasks. Similarly there are lot more icons there which I can use. Here’s a sample classification of one of my Sprint tasks.
mind-map-icons

As you can see above, I have prioritized some stories with the numbers and marked some of them as completed. So, if I just open the stories node, I’ll immediately get a picture of what is done and what is yet to be done.

So, why should you use Mind Maps?

Let me list some of the benefits I get through Mind Maps.

  1. I spend **less time **searching for informations.
  2. I **immediately get to know **what is happening in my project. What’s done, what’s blocked and what’s yet to be done (by means of assigning proper icons). So, at a glance, you get the whole status.
  3. **Visually organizing **rather than copy pasting and using indentation to group things, when compared with text files.
  4. Rather than scattering notes files into multiple folders, I can use a **single mind map **file to store them all.
  5. **Less Clutter **- SciPlore lets me to hide unwanted nodes so that I can focus only on the active task.

So, if you want all the above benefits, you should consider using Mind Maps! It’s all up to you. :) But, if you are already using Mind Map, I would be really interested to know your story.

Feel free to leave a comment about what do you feel about this post!