Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Productivity – Got It Mapped!

In businesses, offices and workplaces all around the world one of the main challenges facing us is trying to balance and cope with ever increasing workloads and constantly changing demands on both our time and output requirements.

Most of the time, it seems that work is a constant pressure situation where we are continually juggling tasks, priorities, deadlines, project requirements, etc. not to mention immediate demands and last-minute urgent requests for our input and contributions.

All of this against a backdrop of the absolute need to absorb, assimilate and effectively process data, knowledge and information to aid understanding, determine priorities, reach decisions and take clear, focused and effective actions.

There are a plethora of tools, techniques, models and methodologies claiming to be the best to “boost productivity”, “increase efficiency”, “help you work smarter not harder” and similar well-intentioned performance-enhancing claims.

Coming from a strong background in business process and business performance improvement, in particular in the MindGenius business mind mapping area, I was delighted to read independent research into mind mapping as a method for improving productivity. I was particularly interested to learn that studies show that mind mapping increases personal productivity by as much as 20%.

Just think, if you and I and the teams we work with or manage could improve overall productivity by 20%!

That made me reconsider again the real value that mind mapping brings (if you recall the benefits of using mind mapping in business was the topic for my last article “Mind mapping in business…are you serious?”). In particular it made me think of the “why” it adds value and the “how” it enhances productivity directly.

I brainstormed the topic of “Mind Mapping for Productivity” (see map below) and quickly came up with a few quick highlights, benefits and value…

As many MindGenius users will testify, beyond the concepts of traditional mind mapping, and with the productivity-enhancing functionality of modern and intuitive software, sits a “must-have” solution for capturing, sorting, prioritising knowledge, ideas and information…and more!

Its use is only limited by the user – productivity is enhanced right from the start, from the point of engagement on – everything is as quick, or in some cases quicker and easier than traditional approaches. All your ideas, knowledge and experience are quickly and effortlessly captured and, more importantly, utilized in a way that’s more engaging, visual and action-centred than any alternative manual process.

Ideas for action plans, outputs from meetings, project plans (WBS), project schedules, presentation and document outlines and content, study notes, research maps, problem solving methods, etc, etc, the tasks and activities we do day-in, day-out, all brought to life, all more thoroughly thought through and more clarity and with increased focus injected into the whole process.

We all strive to save time, use time better and generally be more focused and productive.

I cannot but agree with the research – 20% increase on productivity through the use of mind mapping – I’m glad we’ve got that covered for you with MindGenius!

Author Bio: Jamie MacDonald, Head of Client Development at MindGenius. Jamie is a highly experienced trainer, facilitator and coach with over 20 years’ experience in training, development, HRM and business improvement.

Are you getting the best out of MindGenius to enhance productivity for you / your team?

MindGenius Ltd provide an extensive range of tailored training and consultancy solutions for individuals and teams. If you need to improve your use or wider adoption of MindGenius, contact your Account Manager or email – we’d be happy to discuss your requirements and options.

How to Assign Actions to Branches…

What are Actions?

Actions (or Tasks) are a set of properties that help you track and manage the things you need to do.

Where will I find this function?

Actions / Tasks are set and managed via the “Task Schedule” and “Action Misc” command groups on the Tasks ribbon.

How do I apply Actions / Tasks?
  • Switch to the Tasks Ribbon
  • Select the Branch you wish to assign an Action to
  • Set Action / Task properties by selecting or entering values using the ribbon controls

  • Actions / Tasks can be given Start, Due or End dates  
  • Priority ratings can also be applied to any Action
  • Ongoing Status of Actions/Tasks can be applied to monitor and manage progress to completion
  • Use of the Filter enables pro-active management of Actions/Tasks

Icon denotes if a Branch has Dates properties

Icon indicates status: Not Started

Icon indicates status: In Progress

Icon indicates status: Complete

Icon indicates Branch/Task linked to MS Outlook as an MS Outlook Task

What are the benefits of using the Action/Task Function?
  • Allows you to assign timescales
  • Enables tracking of Actions / Tasks
  • Improves task management capabilities
  • Allows you to set deadlines
  • Provides filtering capabilities
  • Visually engaging and collaborative

Did you Know... You Can Link Documents and URLs to Map Branches

The MindGenius “Attachments” function...

  • From any Branch, create a link to any document on your PC or Network
  • Link to MS Word documents, MS Excel spreadsheets, other Maps, audio files, etc
  • From any Branch, create a hyperlink to a URL
  • Link as many documents and hyperlinks/URLs as you wish to any Branch
  • Once links have been created, can be quickly accessed by mouse-over / click on icon
  • Useful feature for knowledge gathering and research
  • Many uses and benefits when instant access to related information is required
  • Improves organisation, document access and overall efficiency

Where can I find this function?

  • Attachment functions for both Hyperlinks/URLs and general Attachments can be found on the “Insert” Ribbon – right-hand side “Attachment” area.
  • Clicking on the “Hyperlink” option opens an “Add Hyperlink” dialogue – insert or copy/paste the URL into the “Hyperlink Address” field.
  • Clicking on the “Attachment” option opens an “Add Attachment” dialogue – simply use the “browse” function (yellow folder icon, bottom-right) to browse your folders/files and double click to submit the relevant file-path into the “Attachment Name” field.
  • These actions will result in attachment / hyperlinks icons to appear on the relevant Branches
  • (multiple attachments / hyperlinks are indicated by “paper clips” icons)

“Mind Mapping …for business...are you serious?”

Time and time again we get asked and challenged on an age-old issue of whether or not mind mapping is , at worst, just another fad, a ”nice to have” or, at best, a real value-adding benefit that has a serious place within a business or organisation.

Since the launch of MindGenius many years ago, we have been privileged to have hundreds of thousands of customers investing in MindGenius for a variety of reasons…

  • exponents of the original mind mapping technique as an aid to capturing, visualizing ideas and knowledge to aid understanding, retention and recall
  • people in the area of education (educators, teachers, students, etc.) looking for software to help them consolidate the above technique in a teaching / learning environment
  • business people in wide and varied disciplines with a requirement for more efficient and visual ways of capturing information, knowledge and data to aid focus and clarity on moving from ideas to action quicker and more productively
  • senior managers, directors and business owners, with specific requirements around high-level strategic thinking, planning and “dashboard”-type approaches to capture, visualize, monitor and manage plans, priorities, objectives, projects, etc.
  • Project managers and others involved in project work requiring intuitive, visual and tracking methodologies and tools to make the planning, scheduling and monitor and control stage of managing projects more visible, collaborative and, of course, productive and efficient.

For me, one of the interesting outcomes of interacting with many of these customers is a realisation that mind mapping holds different meaning, pre-conception and, dare I say, misconceptions - particularly in the business world. 

Whilst mind mapping is generally recognised as a technique or a methodology to aid thinking and understanding (or variations on that theme) there is a “disconnect” between mind mapping as a basic concept and the actual application of a “way of working” that it most definitely has evolved into over recent years. 

Although admittedly improving, there is nevertheless a lack of appreciation throughout the business world that mind mapping has moved on dramatically and has admirably kept pace with this modern technology-savvy world – MindGenius as the perfect example of how we have actually built and dramatically improved a very valid and creative methodology and enabled it to be applied intuitively and easily in a whole plethora of personal, business and education environments.

The answer to how mind mapping can be applied and, more importantly, add value in business varies depending on the context, but is centred on some of the following business tenets:

Does lack of focus and clarity on some of the following get in the way of efficiency, productivity or performance?
  • Discussions at meetings or brainstorming sessions
  • Clear understanding of outcomes and requirements at planning meetings
  • Monitoring and managing tasks and activities in the most efficient way
  • Thinking things through thoroughly when planning strategies, objectives and projects
  • Planning, scheduling and managing projects better
  • Preparing documents, reports and presentations

In terms of addressing the business “value-add” question, the key issues emerging here are:
  • Do any of the above aspects of business performance apply to you?
  • Is there even the slightest opportunity or room for improvement in any aspect?
  • Could better focus and clarity improve performance in any aspect?
  • Are there others in your team, department or organisation to whom this could also apply?

To address the title of this document, I am seriously suggesting that business mind mapping software “has arrived” and does add real value in a business context – MindGenius has been specifically designed to meet business needs and this understanding comes across in every single functionality, all included to augment and improve common business processes, from gathering ideas to managing objectives, tasks and projects.

But, it’s not just about creating mind maps per-se, it’s about..
  • using a creative, engaging and visual methodology to think through, capture, visualise and structure knowledge, ideas, plans, projects, etc.; 
  • using the methodology to simplify and enable better prioritisation and decision-making;
  • quick and effortless output to documents, presentations, project plans/schedules and reports

…all of this resulting in savings of time and effort, improved productivity and increased focus and clarity at every stage. 
I suspect, there can’t be many individuals, teams or whole organisations who would not accept that there is real bottom-line value to be gained for improving performance in these key aspects of everyday work.

Do you need to put pre-conceptions, or even the slightest misconceptions, about mind mapping to one side?

Do you need to take a fresh look at mind mapping, in particular business mind mapping software? Even as a MindGenius user, are you getting the best out of MindGenius?

At MindGenius we have the experience and the expertise to show you how the leading business mind mapping software can help provide better focus and clarity on all the above aspects of business performance (and more!) and ergo increase productivity and efficiency across the board.

If you want to know how, or just want to find out more, simply contact your Account Manager, email us at or visit for all the information on MindGenius, its uses, applications and benefits.

Author Bio: Jamie MacDonald, Head of Client Development at MindGenius. Jamie is a highly experienced trainer, facilitator and coach with over 20 years’ experience in training, development, HRM and business improvement.

How to... use Categories

What are Categories?

Categories can be applied to map branches.  Categories can have an associated icon. Icons are used to easily and quickly differentiate between different categories.

Categories allow you to visually group or track branches at a glance and quickly analyse and understand the mapped information. Once Categories have been assigned you can sort and filter the map based on these categories.

Categories can be applied for many purposes; helping get clarity on ideas captured during a brainstorm session, reviewing documentation, identifying priorities / severities / risk, to indicate project status, to reach and indicate decisions, etc.

Combined with the analysis tools at your disposal for filtering and viewing your data, Categories bring a whole new dimension to your business mapping.

Where will I find Categories?

Categories are contained in the “Categories" part of the Analyze Ribbon.

How best can I use Categories?

MindGenius Category Gallery contains pre-installed Category Sets (e.g. Brainstorming grouping; Impact Analysis; Decision making, Performance review, Risk….and more….

Choose “More Categories” within the Gallery to reveal available Category Sets and to be able to add any to the Gallery.

Assign Categories to a map by selecting a Branch or Branches and simply click on the Category Icon you want to assign. This places the Category icon on to the selected Branch.

The Category Dropper tool allows you to “pick up” any Category and assign them quickly to map Branches.

You can create your own Categories or rename the pre-installed MindGenius sets.

Filtering your Map helps you to gain clarity by highlighting Branches that match criteria you set or hiding those that don’t.
Analyze and view only the relevant information. 
Quick filter – one-click filtering of currently used categories.
Hide non-matching branches.

Category Map - provides an alternative view of your information – automatically creates an affinity diagram based on the applied map Categories – a different perspective and leading to more informed decision-making.  

Data Sort – Sort and organize the map branches by: Due Date, Priority, Status..etc…

What are the benefits of using Categories?

  • Apply to visually group  and / or filter mapped information
  • Provides clarity on mapped information
  • Visual representation of many factors
  • Helps with prioritisation and decision-making
  • Saves time in interpreting information

Did you know...MindGenius integrates with MS Outlook.

The MindGenius integration with MS Outlook...

  • Branches can have their task properties synchronised between MindGenius and MS Outlook
  • Map your Actions / Tasks (the “What”)
  • Use task scheduling to schedule due dates (the “When”)
  • Direct distribution of Actions / Tasks to MS Outlook
  • “Send selection” distribution sends email notification to task owner(s)
  • Synchronise with MS Outlook for live Task progress updates (manual or automated)
  • Two-way synchronisation updates Task Status and % complete
  • Icons indicate branches in-synch and task progress status
  • Improves task management and the way meetings are performed and managed

Where can I find this function?

Tasks are sent to MS Outlook via the Outlook Tasks menu on the Tasks ribbon.

Go to the Tasks Ribbon.
Select one or more branches to send to MS Outlook as tasks.
Click Outlook Tasks to open the Outlook Tasks menu, select “Send Selection to Outlook as tasks”.

Take a Bite out of MindGenius...

Continuing our series of bite-sized courses – MindGenius for Project Scheduling and Gantt.

MindGenius has an integral Project Mode / Gantt View which enables you to automatically create a Gantt Chart from your Project Plan maps.

This short but informative course show you how to schedule your Project effortlessly and intuitively within MindGenius.

Our short 30 minute online Training session, hosted by Head of Client Development Jamie MacDonald will take you through: using your project work breakdown structure (WBS) map to create a Gantt chart using the integral MindGenius Project Mode / Gantt View; assigning Resources, Dates and estimates of Duration; add Dependencies and Constraints; identify and allocate Project Milestones and Critical Path; identify possible under / over allocation of Resources.

Cost: £50 / €60 / $80 per attendee per session

This training session is scheduled for: Wednesday 9th April at 4pm BST / 11am EDT.

Book Now or Find Out More