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Mind Mapping for Project Planning and Fighting Information Overload

Project planning and management can be an uphill battle, especially considering all the different elements involved: planning, timelines, collaboration, assigning tasks, managing data, and creating content. However, managing information overload and multitasking are necessary aspects of successful project planning and execution. Unfortunately, this is also where mistakes or slip-ups can really cost you.

Mind mapping, especially when managing multiple projects, is an exceptional, easy way to streamline the process. Outwardly, mind maps sometimes seem complicated and inconvenient, but once you begin using them consistently, they can actually save you tons of time and make multitasking and collaboration easier. New technology and cloud-based services have made mind maps shareable and easily editable, which allows teams to capture and organize information and ideas more quickly than via traditional means.

Here are a few ways you can use mind mapping to deal with project planning and information overload.

Scope And Outline

At the planning and inception stage, you need to outline the scope of what you are doing. Most of the time, the information is stored and presented in a linear format, with lengthy to-do lists and large documents representing each arm of the project. The problem with to-do lists — and most lists in general — is that although they help organize tasks, they have a way of getting team members to fixate on the little details when they should be looking at the larger picture. Getting stuck in the details in the inception phase can cause you to lose sight of the main objectives, and prevent you from setting actionable goals. With mind maps, you can break the project into easy-to-manage chunks, such as:

  • Scope
  • Resources
  • Timeline
  • Goals
  • Costs
  • Tasks

You can break it down even further by creating mind maps for each area, and linking resources and notes to relative topics.

Data Curation

Curation, in this case, is knowledge management. Collecting and organizing information efficiently makes the available data much easier to use. Mind maps help you sort and organize information, and make connections where they matter. Whether it’s a research paper, article, or idea that came out of a meeting, you can place the resource in the hierarchy, and restructure ideas and data as you move along. You don’t ever have to start from scratch unless you choose to.

When you have dozens of projects, with several disparate teams executing them, mind maps can help break down the chaos and minimize repetition. Team members are often required to work on a project or section of the project for a specific period of time, develop an understanding of the scope, create notes, capture information, and move on to additional tasks. Often, when they return to the project at a later stage, there’s a scramble to get up to speed with all the data you’ve saved. But with mind maps, teams can have a two-dimensional view of everything that’s been captured. The context is swiftly restored and nothing is lost, and locating ideas and details becomes much easier.

Objectives And Tasks

As you begin to break things down, you can assign an individual or team to a specific task or section of the project. Since mind mapping does not force you to work in a linear format, you can schedule tasks as necessary and execute complementary tasks together. You never risk missing tasks that are crucial to other parts of the project, since the larger picture is just as accessible as the details. It’s much easier to avoid getting stuck on a single section or task; everything flows, and you are left with a concrete but flexible plan.

What are some ways you deal with project planning and information overload? Tell us about them in the comments!

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