If your latest GTD* method and that new bit of ‘To Do’ software you purchased at Xmas hasn’t helped you make more than a slight dent in your project list for 2012, perhaps it’s time to try a completely different and more visual approach to project planning.
Visual and colourful project planning
Research suggests that, people in general respond better to shapes and colours when it comes to understanding and remembering than to lists of text. Add to this the fact that as creative people we are often exceptionally uncomfortable with linear thinking and you’ll see why mind-maps provide a colourful, visual and, yes, fun way not only to get an overview of our projects, but to drill down to the nitty gritty next actions as well.
If this sounds like what you need and you also happen to have an iPad and/or iPhone (the app is universal), then you might want to experiment with a fabulous free** app called Idea Sketch by award-winning education and software developers, Nosleep software.
The latest version of the app offers lots of varieties of shapes for your concepts and extra colours are promised for the March update, but what makes Idea Sketch stand out from the host of mind-mapping apps out there is the option to also see your map as a hierarchical list.
But didn’t you say we were getting away from lists?
Mind-mapping is a great way to capture a flow of creative ideas and to see an overview of everything related to a project but there’s going to come a time when you need to focus on taking some concrete steps.
Most digital mind-mapping software will allow you to close up branches of the map thus permitting you to focus on one particular area, but Idea Sketch’s list view is like generating an instant ‘To Do’ list for your project. You can add more information in either of the views and it will be automatically reflected in the other.
Unfortunately, as yet, Idea Sketch doesn’t include the option of tick boxes the way Omni Outliner does nor can you include your own images or collaborate across platforms in the Cloud as you can with Mindjet; and the ability to export just one branch of a project as a new map would also be a great help. But the software is being constantly updated so maybe the developers will include these features at a later date.
So if 2012 didn’t get off with quite the kick-start you hoped for, why not start your Spring planning with a colourful and visual mind-map? There’s lot’s of software and apps to choose from – and paper and coloured pens still work – but at the bargain price of FREE, Idea Sketch is definitely worth a whirl!
*GTD – Getting Things Done a phrase coined by productivity guru, David Allen in his book of the same name.
**The app does offer some extra options as in-app purchases but I used the app happily for nearly two years without needing these extras. (This is not an affiliate link and I am not affiliated to NoSleep software in any way.)