Before using MindManager I used a number of techniques to record and track the information & documents that make up a typical project. This could be a combination of MS Outlook (Calendar, Tasks, Contacts), MS Word (Documents), and MS Excel (Data/calculations), Graphics done in CorelDRAW or Photo-Paint, perhaps MS Visio and presentations in MS PowerPoint. There is also usually CAD document or CAD software configuration files related to every project I do. Combine this with links to Intra-net/Internet information, meeting notes and “scratch pad reminders” and you have a huge amount of stuff to manage. Occasionally I use MS Project for Gantt charts and tracking task progress but usually the work I do is not really suited for this as detailed time tracking isn’t so important. I generally need to know when an important deadline is due, roughly how far I’ve got with the task, and who/what is involved.
As I work on CAD Production Work, CAD System Development, CAD Support and other tasks simultaneously just tracking what, where, who, and progress in all those projects became a headache. Some things may be needed & completed in an hour, others can take months or years to complete but you need to know where all that “stuff” is at any time. Like most people the way I organised documents was the usual “folder structure” based disk storage, careful file naming and memory. I had been looking for a way to better access, structure & report projects for some time & when I saw MindManager realised I’d found it. It is often thought of as a brainstorm, meeting agenda, project-planning application but I have found its great for daily project tracking and reference.
MindManager doesn’t try to replace any of the applications I used before but it enhances all of them. To me its forte is pulling many streams of information together from all sorts of sources and organising them into a meaningful structure. You can easily rearrange things easily; add extra information & links, Task start/deadline dates, resources, priority and progress then link/export that information back to the time planning, documentation, or presentation application best suited for that task. I now use MindManager as the prime application for all my project planning and documentation. The image (click to enlarge thumbnail) is an example of the primary map used for my daily work. It combines Daily To-Dos, Production Projects, CAD Management and other References into one simple interface. Over the next few articles I will show how it helps with these tasks and interacts with other applications to make life a whole lot easier.
Continued at Mind Managing your day ~ Part 2