164: Mind Mapping


I enjoyed this episode, and I will echo what Mike was saying about giving mind mapping a shot if you haven’t done so yet. I’ve discovered that mind mapping has great potential, and it’s taken me some time to appreciate that. The only tool I’ve ever used for this is MindNode, which I can recommend as eagerly as well. One thing that I’ve found transformative about mind mapping is that it can be used for both big picture/no organizing/brainstorming and detailed/organized/hierarchical thinking. In the university classes I teach, I started using mind maps to sketch out semesters in broad brush strokes as part syllabus development. But the ease of which I can access/edit my mind maps on iOS devices has led me to use it for narrow, detailed planning on a per-class/lesson basis. (I can easily look at the big picture of the course, or focus (referring to the MindNode feature) on a specific week or day. This contradicts, in some sense, the idea that you wouldn’t necessarily use this kind of tool for something that needs linear, hierarchical planning, but I find it works either way.

Also: a lot of what I now do as a mind map I used to do in OmniOutliner. And while I appreciate that tool, the flexibility and visual presentation that mind mapping offers I find to simply be more efficient and more flexible for my use case.


I’ve tried mind mapping in the past, but it has never stuck. I’m giving it another try. Started some maps in MindNode, it really is a well done app. I liked their discussion of using it to think through a problem. It doesn’t have to be some big complex project, I’m going to try it on some small things.


For several years, I’ve used MindNode to plan almost everything I do or think about decisions. I use it every week to plan and organize blog articles, plan projects, and anytime I need to do some extended thinking. I find the graphical interface to work much better for me than traditional outlines.

It is possible to draft a mind map of an article you’re going to write all in one session as @mikeschmitz typically does. I’ve done that when I’m short on time to meet a deadline. However, I think by not doing it over time and making multiple short visits, you rob yourself of the work your “sub” can do between sessions. Every time I revisit a mind map I make changes in the organization. I think making multiple visits greatly improves the final output.


Mike, thanks for sharing your personal family history with mind maps. I’m more of a spreadsheet and outline creator, and I think that also largely comes from my dad’s use of them. Another thing to think about when encountering someone who uses technology significantly differently.


Great episode with interesting insights on how you both use mind mapping.

I always struggled with understanding how my ideas connect and if they are actually helpful for the things I’m trying to achieve. This is where mind mapping has helped me gain clarity and a better understanding. This is probably still my most important use case for mind maps.

(BTW the web export feature in MindNode you described toward the end of the podcast, myMindNode, is sadly not available for new users)

Perhaps it’s in the public beta? Public Beta - MindNode

A workaround is to export a MindNode mind map to an image or a pdf, then import that into a Craft document. Craft documents can easily be published to the web, and a link is provided you can share with others. :slightly_smiling_face:

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I enjoyed the episode. I’ve never done mind mapping before, but I can think of places where it could be particularly useful. I downloaded Mindnode from Setapp. When I get some time I’ll give it a spin.

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Sorry, I should have been more clear about this: I’m the person who “killed” this feature. Only customers that purchased the app before a certain date and signed up in time have access to it. Basically a way to soft-deprecate the feature until we figure out if it makes sense to invest more time/money into it.

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I really enjoyed the topic of this episode. Mind mapping is a tool that was introduced to me back in grade school as we learned to develop thoughts for writing. It was also reintroduced when I went through teaching school as a way to develop units and lessons in education. Fast forward into my work now, this episode sparked a collaborative activity with my team.

David’s idea of putting down a large format piece of paper and then using that as a place for ideas and planning sparked innovation for me. I ran a meeting with other leaders and together we filled a page with ideas and topics. After we reviewed what we wrote to find themes and draw connections. Once we found larger topics we took another piece of paper to build an outline for our next quarters goals. The team loved this activity and it provided a place for collaboration and focus. They’ve already asked if we can repeat this again in following planning sessions.

Carrying this forward, I’ve begun mind mapping development plans, organizing projects at home and overall journaling to help calm a busy mind. I’ve used MindNode in the past and loved the application. I’ve also recently loaded beta for iPadOS in order to try Freeform to see how this goes.


I’ve been using a large, plain actual whiteboard for most of my non-linear thinking/drawing/scheming lately. Works great, four colored markers, take a photo, erase, start over. But recently I mindmapped something and it worked well. It’s especially helpful for hashing out some tricky genealogy problems. I suppose I’m going to need to pony up for the MindNode annual subscription to unlock some extra features so I can view family connections in a more top-down vs. horizontal aspect.

Hopefully I can take the inspiration from this episode and use mind mapping to hash out some goals/intentions for the year as well.

Since writing my earlier comments, I’ve published a blog post, Everything I Do Starts With Mind Mapping.

Some of you interested in this topic might find it interesting. :blush:

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to follow up on my previous post, I am now using:

  1. Free version of XMind for basic standard mind-mapping
  2. Scapple ($27 one-time license fee) for when I need things to be more free-form but still easy to add things via keyboard shortcuts.

Dropped MindNode