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How to write a book using mind maps: Part 3 – Project management

This is the third post in the series How to write a book using mind maps. These posts feature the story of how Sean Mitton accomplished his ambitious goal of writing his first book, The Goal That United Canada.

You can find his other posts here:


Guest Blogger: Sean Mitton

Stephen Covey’s concept “Begin with the End in Mind” must be a mantra for most project managers. I think about it all the time when mind mapping, and it’s a principle that guide me through the process of planning the creation of my book The Goal That United Canada. In this post, I’ll discuss the book concept, my brainstorming process and creating the project plan.

Before I do so, I’d like to share a couple of quick thoughts regarding project management and mind mapping.

  • I feel that organizing tasks holistically in a mind map feels more manageable than having it in more of a linear format.
  • It also allows me to see what items are related, what could be combined, and what is redundant.
  • I continually ask myself “Is there anything else I’m missing or need to do?” If there is, I can just add it to the mind map at any time.
  • Links and attachments are two of the most powerful project management features available.
  • So is the ability to set dates, priorities and progress.
  • Finally, I feel project management using mind maps helps reduce stress. I can see everything on one page, and always know where I am in the project.

This process also enhances creativity and promotes confidence in your outcome, both of which are essential when writing a book.

With those thoughts, let’s dive into the project planning stages I went through when creating The Goal That United Canada

Sean Mitton - Project PlanThe book concept

The general feeling that I wanted people to experience when reading the book was the sheer jubilation that was happening at the time all across Canada. It’s so rare that a country has a moment that brings everyone together, and this idea was my central focus. When Paul Henderson scored that magical goal in 1972, I could visualize people celebrating coast-to-coast, from British Columbia all the way to Newfoundland.

I also wanted to share the nostalgia about what was happening back in 1972 to give younger readers a sense of the times. One tidbit to share about that nostalgia, was that several people commented that they purchased there first colour TV to watch the series. Others watched in black and white.

I also found a unique set of stories in learning that there was a group of 3,000 Canadians that attended the 4 games in Moscow. Some of the best stories and photos came from this group, including one former NHL’ers father. I’’ll share more about that in the next post.

As I collected stories, I was curious about how many of the people I talked to (generally over the age of 50 at the time) would remember where they were and what it meant to them some 40 years earlier. I would estimate that 70% of the people I asked could remember vividly where they were that day.

Mind mapping played an important role in this process, because it allowed me to keep attachments of all the stories and photos in one document. It was a way to organize my book assets and creatively choose my book outline.

Brainstorming the project

Mind mapping was a great tool for brainstorming the book’s direction, and in the collection of stories. When I look back at collecting 200 stories in less than a year, I felt that was an achievement in itself. I had a number of people that I brainstormed with at the beginning of the project about how to collect the 200 stories. All of this brainstorming took place within mind maps.

Some of the key ideas included collecting stories from personal networks, events, and traditional media as well as social media. I had a lot of great ideas that came out of those brainstorming sessions that gave me the confidence to accomplish the goal. I was hoping to get a number of interesting photos from this process as well.

As a reminder, I figured if I could get approximately 200 stories, there would be 72 really good stories to choose from.

I’ll share more of these ideas in the next post.

The project plan

The project plan was perhaps the most critical component of the entire process. Because of the compressed timelines, I had to have a clear understanding of what dates I needed to have a task completed by or near. One of the things I like about mind mapping is that it’s easy to get ideas down quickly, build off of them.  From there I was able to turn my ideas into specific tasks, prioritize and highlight them, and then review my progress against the plan weekly.

MindManager has always been so easy to use, and I used the cloud-based version to continuously update and add attachments, links and other new tasks. I would also share this plan with an adviser and continuously ask, “Am I missing anything?’

I mentioned in my first post that the 40th Anniversary of the goal was September 28th, 2012. So I had a very firm date of when everything had to be completed. In my planning, I tried to give myself a little cushion with respect to dates just in case anything came up. Fortunately, everything worked out time wise and I didn’t have any major fires to put out.

This plan really had two different versions, I’ll call them 1.0 and 2.0, based on an opportunity that came up a few months into the plan. That opportunity was the possibility of launching the book at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. I never thought that it would be a possibility … until I asked.

It was a bit more work, but through my media interviews I was able to attract sponsors and had a number of options regarding speakers for the Hall of Fame event. The good news is that the media interviews tied into a lot of the existing promotion, but I still had to organize the event and adjust the budgets. The ability to easily add and adjust my project plan within MindManager was key in allowing me to pivot the project toward this major milestone. I’ll speak more about the promotion and the Hockey Hall of Fame launch in a future blog post.

In the next blog post, I’ll share how I mind mapped a multi-pronged strategy to collect over 200 stories in less than 10 months.

If you’re thinking about writing a book, I highly recommend mapping it out with MindManager. If you haven’t gotten your hands on it yet, then you may be interested in a free 30-day trial.


About Sean Mitton

In the past 15 years, Sean Mitton has created over 700 mind maps as an Entrepreneur, Author, Speaker, Reporter, Web designer and Coach. He Founded the Canadian Expat Network, co-authored the book “The Goal That United Canada”, has been interviewed by over 30 media outlets and has interviewed notable athletes, entertainers, politicians and business leaders. He’s spoken at universities, community college conference, libraries and the Hockey Hall of Fame. In 2010, he organized the first Terry Fox Run for Cancer Research in North Carolina. Every step of the way, he’s created mind maps to keep organized, be more creative, strategic and simplify ideas. Throughout this process, he has found that by asking better questions through mind mapping, you can achieve better results!

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