Thinking about how to plan a summer which would involve multiple trips, lots of dates, heaps of information references, dependencies, and costs—all of which will change until completed—the solution was obvious.
A travel map!
I turned to my favourite 'need to plan some stuff, but don't know what' application: MindManager!
In a single map I could brain-dump ideas, contacts, gather references, track media (like this post), look at timing and forecast/track budget.
The topic parent/child structure of a map is superb for capturing all aspects of a trip.
Topic notes, signified by a note icon, can hold any formatted paragraph text and images.
Topic links to files, folders, or websites are viewable in MindManager's internal viewer or the default application.
Tasks for Priority, Progress, Dates and Cost
The true magic of MindManager is how much information each of those topics can carry. In addition to the topic text, notes, icons, images you see in the map there are task, resource and cost properties which can be applied to any topic.
Roll Up is the key
Those discrete little ticks to 'Roll up Tasks' and 'Roll up Costs' are the key. Any Task/cost property applied to a sub-topic is reflected in all topics in the branch above it. in the topic below you can see % Complete being rolled up, from '6 Month Pass' to the top level with completed tasks/branches automatically turning green.
Costs and dates, as seen below, also do the same.
Keep adding topics and soon you end up with an itinerary map, also viewable/editable as a more document formatted outline.
Travel is about timing
Schedule View gives a time (Year, Month, Week, Day) sorted view with drag and drop, great for 'high level' drag and drop arrangement of tasks by time. Below I was looking at visiting the Wellington region to tie in with a fixed event date. Dragging a task into the column assigns it to the first increment of the period, 1 November in the month view, and then you can refine further.
Tying it all together
While you were building that map MindManager was building a timeline in its Gantt Pro Chart module. Click a button and you see a traditional project management view of dates, duration, effort (work within the duration), progress, cost, and resources. It is just another view, completely bidirectionally editable, of the map.
For my trip I used the task length for 'stay' duration, 'Effort' for days I would be riding and "Resource" for the bike!
You chain branches together by selecting two topics and setting their dependency. MindManager creates the visual "Relationship' arrow and aligns the dates. Most common is 'Finish to Start' but could link accommodation as 'Start to Start' so as you move the activity accommodation dates follow.
On a complex map you can get in a tangle moving relationship connected tasks around. I have found it easier to remove preceding and final relationships from a branch, shuffle the child topics adjusting dates, and then reconnect.
By the end of that you have a detailed, but still flexible, travel plan with dates, times, and costs. The green highlights completed, for me representing confirmed/booked, items.
Other views if you want
Icon view or Tag view shows the topics sorted by any marker or tag. The same map viewed sorted by the 'Priority' icon or Kanban style 'To do, Doing, 'Done' tags.
Schedule View gives a time (Year, Month, Week, Day) sorted view with drag and drop, great for 'high level' drag and drop arrangement of tasks by time:
Viewing and gathering information on the /Go
MindManager is a computer app but Mindmanager/Go supports viewing (but sadly not editing) maps on your mobile. It supports OneDrive/SharePoint, Dropbox, Box and Google storage.
You can add or share items ready to add to the map with the MindManager/Snap function or plug-ins.
On mobile you can directly add photos, images and text 'snaps' or share to MindManager from any app.
On PC Browsers the MindManager/Snap plug-in gathers Bookmarks (URL) or selected text
Back in MindManager open the Snap pane and drag those items, sync'ed ready for you, into the map
The power of MindManager, in addition to simple print or image exports, the map is structured data you can share. The Office docs
I can't think of another application which does all this so simply. Once you get a handle on the power a topic has there are few limitations and this is without even touching customisation features like topic formulas, SmartRules (conditional formatting), Macros and more.
Got a plan? MindManager Map it.
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