A friend recently introduced to me the concept of mind mapping, and it is something I wish I knew of earlier.
Mind mapping may sound complicated, but in reality, it couldn’t be simpler. At the core of the mind map is your idea/project/product/thought. It can be anything. As you stare at the core of the mind map, you will start to associate topics with it and start mapping details out from the center.
Currently, I am leading a project to retire a legacy system and replace it. Usually I would write down the tasks in a spreadsheet or project plan, but it does not give me room to visualize and to branch out my thoughts. The mind map has been extremely helpful to gather thoughts and requirements. It helps to set the foundation on how to organize the project when it gets formalized into a project plan. Below is an example of a mind map for replacing a legacy system.
On a personal level, I’ve been using a mind map to plan a wedding. Every time something comes to mind, I just create a new topic and start branching out with the details.
There are plenty of free mind mapping products available and hopefully they will help you out professionally or personally. My friend prefers FreeMind, while I prefer XMind.