Mind Maps and Outlines

I find these mind maps very interesting.

I’m a big fan of using outliners to organize my thoughts. I use ActionOutline right now and find it very useful. I like building a list of stuff and then making “sub-stuff” by indenting. This is a standard way I organize thoughts for articles, business plans, strategy work, prioritizing tasks, etc.

When I first saw a mind map I thought they might replace outlines as my metaphor for the way my mind works. But after looking at it more I can’t really see how a mind map is more useful at explaining the relationship between things than an outline. And with an outline it is easy to “promote” or “demote” ideas as you realize that they have a different priority than you originally thought. It seems that you’d have to redraw your mind map to do this.

And while discussing this with Alyson, we both decided that neither tool really captures items that meet multiple needs or are related in more complex ways. For example, “clean up office supplies” might be a task related to “declutter office”, and “cut spending”, and “make administrative tasks more efficient”, and “make room for new printer”. Mind maps and outlines both seem to fail at capturing these multi-dimensional relationships.