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Free your mind

I’ve been using FreeMind for about two years. Here’s a good post from a while back, which lays out the main points of why it’s so great.

Effective brainstorming is the art of recording disjointed data (human thoughts) in such a way that they may then be grouped, sorted and prioritised. FreeMind’s tree-like structure encourages the user to start with the big stuff and whittle down to the details – but by the time you’re adding details, they’re falling into groups: making them much easier to manage.

FreeMind has also proved useful when managing other kinds of clumsy data. At work, for example, I look after multiple sites, each with multiple internet connections. The complexity of this model is quite overwhelming at first, even with a relatively small number of connections – each DSL line runs over a phone line, and the providers of both may be (and usually are) different from each other and have different billing cycles. I document all the lines, accounts, providers, technical data etc. in a FreeMind map, then, when a bill comes in, I can look at one document and work out what I’m paying for and where in seconds. Reporting faults is just as easy.

I’m about to map out our asset register in a similar way. The diagram will drill down into different sites, and then the various assets, and then the features of those assets such as technical specifications, lifetime, insurance value etc. I could dig out the asset register itself, but it’s an ugly spreadsheet that prints onto about 30 sheets, and I’m quite confident I can map it so the data could be used more effectively.

If you’ve got stuff you need written down, but it doesn’t hang together very well, have a crack at it in FreeMind. I’m hoping that one day it’ll go towards multi-user, and then it could be used for even more management-like things.

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