Productivity and GTD
Brainstorming or Mind Mapping?
The choice between one or the other seems somewhat fallacious; each of them has its time and usefulness. But the truth is that when you are ready to start a natural planning process, it is an opportunity to unleash your creativity and let ideas emerge without the slightest hint of critical sense.
Personally, having a graphical support and guidelines with which to structure the content, allows me to focus and channel the subject. In a brainstorming session, I have developed the habit of unleashing my lateral thinking; what starts seeming like magnesia can become gymnasia. I have such a cavernous and chaotic mind. This tool is ideal to think about topics for my blog posts, about new ways to structure my activity, or other stuff with a wide range of shades and poorly defined boundaries.
Mind maps, in turn, help me to capture on paper—also in digital format—, all the activity of a specific project. I find it much easier to list the main subjects and then break them into small pieces to see what each one involves. I can focus my attention to each of the branches, define items at every level and decompose, atomize my ideas as I go through them. It is very neat process that simplifies the collection of ideas, the identification of project components or areas, and the definition on next actions.
At first I thought it was a flaw not having space to collect what should not be part of the project, ideas that arise out of its zone of influence. They are important to know how far you have to go, and what makes natural planning a way to think about your projects in 3 dimensions, not just the two (tasks and time) of the reactive or formal planning. I solved the issue without thinking about it, just incorporating everything that comes up to the map—as it should be—, leaving aside prejudices. With no limitations, I create a whole image of the matter and subsequently I just mark what should be left outside.
I usually create my maps using software, freemind or xmind (thanks to Dani Aguayo for the suggestion), to streamline the process of creation and subsequent data processing, classifying the info with icons or colors. Sometimes I use paper, but I have to admit that I only use this resource when I feel nostalgic or want to amuse myself. If you are in a learning stage, use paper, at least the very first times, to learn the concepts. Then you can automate. If any of you know of any software to manage brainstorming sessions, please share it with us. The comments area is at your disposal.
My suggestion to Francisco Sáez and his team is to introduce a way to generate mind maps or brainstorming within FacileThings, when they build an assistant for doing natural planning.