Mind mapping software, because of its incredible flexibility as a medium for representing ideas, knowledge and information, can be a big time saver for busy executives. Here are 8 ways in which visual mapping can help you to get work done faster:
1. Reach clarity faster on key issues – Mind maps enable your brain to immediately assimilate a whole range of complex and interrelated items of information, bringing all of the issues into clear focus. This helps you to reach clarity faster on key issues. In surveys I have conducted, users of mind mapping software cite this as its biggest benefit by a significant margin.
2. Organize and implement projects – For any type of business project, mind mapping software is an indispensable tool. You can use a mind map to define project objectives, available resources, information and resources needed, people who should be involved and the tasks to which they should be assigned, project milestones and more. Most importantly, you can record and organize this myriad of details faster in a mind map than you can in a linear document. Some mind mapping programs enable you to to the “front end” planning for your project in visual form, then export your project data to Microsoft Project and other popular project management software formats. For smaller, less complex projects, you can use your project map as a living document to track their progress and even to capture key learnings at the conclusion of the project.
3. Problem solving – A problem well-defined is a problem half solved. And a mind map is the perfect environment for exploring your problem in detail, breaking it down into its component parts to better understand the people, forces and circumstances that make it up. In fact, the very act of visually diagramming your problem can often illuminate one or more workable solutions. You can utilize a mind map to clearly state the challenge, break it down into its elements, gather and organize facts, generate ideas and even evaluate them. And you can do so faster than with popular methods such as typing all of this information into a document or writing everything down on a white board or flip chart – which tend to “trap” information where it was written down and can’t be easily viewed as a whole or manipulated.
3. Meeting management – If you have an effective process for preparing for a major business meeting, the meeting itself is more likely to be successful. Preparing for a successful meeting is a special type of project: It requires you to set objectives, to solicit the participation of co-workers, partners and people outside of your organization, to manage a myriad of room and facility details, and much more. Mind mapping software, with its powerful ability to gather and organize numerous bits and pieces of information, can save you countless hours of time in planning and managing business larger meetings.
4. Business writing – Mind mapping software helps you to do any type of business writing – such as reports, proposals, white papers and presentations – faster by enabling you to put your thoughts into tangible form on-screen, quickly organize them in a visual outline and then convert your mind map into a document or presentation file to flesh out the details.
5. Executive dashboard – When used as an executive information dashboard, mind mapping software can save you hours of time per week by consolidating links to all of the key business data you need to monitor into a single view. In addition to creating links to key documents, reports, web pages and other resources, some mind mapping programs also enable you to display ranges of live spreadsheet cell data within your maps, make connections to SharePoint and corporate databases, track RSS feeds and more. Having all of the critical information you need to run your business at your fingertips in an executive dashboard map can save you hours of time that you would otherwise spend hunting for this data. Another key benefit of using a dashboard is seeing information from various sources in a single view, allowing you to connect the dots between previously disparate pieces of information, leading to better decision making.
6. Decision making – How do you make decisions? Most people consider the facts and make decisions in their head. While this may work for some situations, there are numerous others where there is so much information to consider, or so many possible alternatives or options, that it’s hard for even the smartest person to reach an informed, well-considered and successful decision – resulting in a significant waste of time spent wondering and worrying. Mind maps enable you to quickly and efficiently define your objectives, record any alternatives, options and risks involved in your decision, surface any assumptions you may be making about the decision, prioritize each alternative and then explore the pros and cons of pursuing each potential option. You can even record all of this information, walk away from it for several hours or several days to let your subconscious mind incubate the decision, and then return to your mind map to once again visually consider your thinking and reach a decision. This enables you to reach a faster and better-informed decision.
7. Improve collaboration – One of the most powerful but underutilized applications of mind mapping software is to utilize it to capture ideas, decisions and other important information during small group meetings. By projecting the meeting map on a wall, everyone shares a visual representation of the ideas being discussed and how they relate to each other. Even if some members of the group haven’t used mind mapping before, most of them should quickly “get it” and begin to contribute to the meeting at a deeper level. This strategy can significantly increase the productivity of your meetings! A shared mind map also creates several very positive dynamics in meetings: In a typical meeting, people often aren’t sure how their ideas are being treated, what issues are being debated and why, and what decisions have been made. A shared mind map makes this important information explicit, and helps groups to reach consensus faster.
8. Ad hoc research – One of the biggest challenges faced by knowledge workers today is information overload. We simply don’t have enough time to gather, analyze and communicate the key information that our jobs require of us. Numerous studies have shown that office workers spend an inordinate amount of time searching for files and information they need to do their jobs. The frustration this causes results in reduced productivity and many hours of wasted time. Mind mapping software is a productivity tool that can help knowledge workers to gather, organize, analyze and share their findings in a variety of formats, resulting in greater productivity and happier workers.
In what ways does mind mapping software save YOU time?
Please share your experiences in the comments area below. I look forward to your stories and insights!