This website covers knowledge management, personal effectiveness, theory of constraints, amongst other topics. Opinions expressed here are strictly those of the owner, Jack Vinson, and those of the commenters.

Using mind maps for note-taking

At a conference several weeks ago, I sat next to a gentleman who was taking all his notes in Mind Manager.  When I asked about it during a break, he said that mind mapping was built into the way people communicate at his company.  I inferred that rather than spreading slide decks, people will send around mind maps and use them in meetings to create shared understanding.  Having played with mind maps for a while, I could immediately see value in recording notes this way.  So I gave it a whirl last week.

The biggest thing I realized is that there is still a lot of technique in recording notes via mind maps.  It isn't as natural as recording to paper, where I have the ability to draw pictures and play with indentation / formatting to my heart's content.  And straight typing into a text tool is fairly easy too.  But then, it provides an alternate way to structure my understanding than I get from taking notes in a text-based tool on my laptop. 

While speakers presented, I could capture their main points and then come back to each item to fill in as the speakers add further detail.  One thing I found somewhat frustrating was thinking about structure of the map as I was attempting to hear what speakers were saying.  I suspect this will improve as I become more facile with the tool.  I'd also like to have a nice way to integrate graphics (like the infamous 2x2 matrix).

My main reason for taking notes in this kind of environment (conferences) is to come back to the topic at a later time and see if anything new strikes me.  Frequently, I use these notes to help construct blog posts a day or two later.  I think mind mapping could fit this need quite well.  But I am also fairly happy with text-based electronic notes, and both modes lose the ability to easily capture graphics.  Yes, I could draw things via the keyboard and mouse, but that generally requires too much effort while also listening to new materials

Note: I played with a tablet pc recently, and I could see a lot of potential for the way I'd like to take notes, as it combines handwriting recognition with any kind of graphic "artistry" I could muster. 

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