Search This Blog

Monday, February 21, 2011

Using MindManager to Organize my Work

Over the last 8 years or so I've developed a system of managing my work that works for me. I use a piece of software called MindManager, which builds on psychological understanding of how humans organize ideas. I find that it really works as a tool for brain dumping. And I also use it to track my workload. They have academic pricing, but it does cost real money. Still, I find it is an absolutely invaluable to for managing both my work and my anxiety about my work. Probably the anxiety even more than the work, if I am honest.

For each year, I make a MindManager map that looks like this:

I'm only showing the top levels of each branch (which MindManager will do automatically) to protect my privacy, and because you'll fill it with your own stuff anyway. I have hyperlinks for each month that will pull up the MindManager map for that month. Here's an example:

Finally, each week is also hyperlinked to its own map, so I can track at a weekly level:

I use the daily items for two purposes. One is that it shows me my meetings and deadlines. But the other is that I am using it to get a better handle on how long it actually takes me to get things done, so that I allow for that in my future planning. It also helps me to concretely answer the question "where did the time go".

There is also a natural tendency to do an end-of-week and beginning-of-week review as I open or set up the Map for that week, also at the end of the month, and at year end.

I also have project-specific mindmaps that show me things like research design, links to research tools, track collaborators and conference presentations and publications that are tied to a particular project. I sometimes use it to display hierarchical representations of complex analyses so I can see patterns at multiple levels.

I get no kickbacks for this, I just like the software. A lot.


  1. Hi! This sounds like something I could use as well. I couldn't find the price for this anywhere on their site. How much does it cost and which version of the software are you using?

    I'm interested in just creating some structure in my own work days; I have no need to communicate it with others.

    1. Here's the page with prices.

      I bought it under academic pricing. I think I'm using an older version -- I started about a decade ago, and I've upgraded once or twice.

    2. Dear Chris,

      Thanks for your kind reply! I have a further question, if you don't mind: will you make up the maps for each month and each week from scratch, or is there a template of some sort? I've downloaded the trial and tested it a little bit, and I already love it! But there are so many features, and browsing the help section by the term "calendar" didn't answer my question.

      I would be delighted if you could give a hint!

    3. Hi.

      That design is just one I made up myself. I tweaked it until I got it the way I wanted it. I save it as a template, and then make a new map from template each time I want a new one.


  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Ok, now I found the prices! I wish they had something more affordable on offer for freelancers..

    1. Maybe you can try some free software like Freemind, Xmind free version and some others. Works great on Linux (tested on Debian) and Windows, I have both of them and both OS). Good luck.