Mind map everything

Lately I have been starting to use mind maps more and more often.

I use MindNode app for this task and it has been a big part of what made mind mapping awesome for me. Reason being, that it made this process, simple and beautiful and thus I no longer have any friction with translating my ideas and thoughts and knowledge in this new mind mapping format.

In essence, mind mapping is the process of visually abstracting information into connected chunks (or nodes) that can then be further abstracted away (with subnodes). In the end you get a tree, with children as nodes, all the way down to its leaves. Here is an example of a mind map I made :

I use these kind of mind maps to note down things that I want to learn into their respective categories under one theme, in this case, the theme being computer science terms. But this extends to everything. Algorithms, mathematics, english, russian words I want to learn, biology, chemistry, physics, programming languages, frameworks. Everything can get mapped and will eventually be mapped as I try to make sense of everything that exists around me.

There are few questions that may arise from this. Is this effort of trying to document and map all these things into this format really useful? Wouldn’t it take a long time to both create and maintain this tree of knowledge?

To answer both of these questions. Yes, it is worth it. And yes, it takes time. However not as much as you might think and the efforts of having all of it far surpass the time commitment needed. Also I am really fast when it comes to using my laptop and working with my laptop and keeping everything digital has tremendous benefits for me. I can retrieve any mind map that I need within few seconds by firing up Alfred and searching for the mind map I need.

Just like that, even if I had 1000’s of these mind maps scattered around my system, I can always find the one I need in under few seconds time. To help me with ordering of all of it, I use a universal system that I apply to all kind of labelled data that I have on my system. The idea of prefixing information.

In the above example, you have seen the cs terms was prefixed with r. and my favourite items were prefixed with f. (where r. stands for research and f. for favourite).

I use prefixes thoroughly, no matter what kind of data file it is. Once I have my prefix, I can filter out content like so :

I can quickly map file names with prefix by fuzzy searching and skipping the dot but still filtering for the prefix like so :

Here are a couple of prefixes that I use for mindnode personally, for you to take some inspiration from perhaps :

  • a. contains all my project mind maps (will go to in detail below)
  • s. contains all my script mind maps (similar to projects but scoped to scripts — bash, python)
  • d. contains all my documentation mind maps (react, cocoa, flask and so on)
  • w. contains all my website building mind maps (similar to projects but scoped to websites)
  • e. contains all my education mind maps (online courses to take, how to learn to play the guitar and so on..)
  • t. contains all my travel mind maps (laying out my travel plans)
  • tc. contains all the cities I have visited or want to visit
  • g. contains all my github mind maps (github repositories, issues, improvements to be made)
  • o. contains all my flow mind maps (flow being things like optimisation, organisation of my personal workflow)
  • l. contains all my life mind maps (everything life related, what I want to learn, what I want to read, what I want to eat, what my goals, plans, research focus is)
  • b. contain all my book mind maps (books I have read annotated)
  • v. contains all my event mind maps (events past and upcoming)

I am still fairly young in my journey of mind mapping my knowledge and indexing it all away for fast retrieval but I have made my first steps and made an effort to create a good foundation going forward.

To add some more detail to my personal workflow with mind maps, let’s take a look at my projects mind maps.

The format is very simple. Any new project I want to do, now starts with this. I have an idea of what I want to make or do. I create a quick mind map prefixed with a. and start :

Let’s say I want to work on my personal website. Each project nearly always follows my predefined format :

  • todo : for outlying tasks that I need to take in order to complete my project
  • use : what I want to use in order to complete my tasks
  • functions : what does the project actually has to do in the end

So for the example of my personal site, the mind map may look something like this after some planning :

I hope you get the idea just how flexible and freeing mind mapping projects in this way is. I also use the same format of todo, use, functions for my scripts and websites I want to build.

All other ones that need some kind of action performed by me, will just have a todo main node and perhaps something else instead of use and functions. For example trip planning can be something like this :

Mind maps are very powerful in this way. They can be as complex and as simple as you want them to be. The art of solving problems lies in the ability of taking the problem and dissecting it into the smallest chunks possible that you can then start on solving. Mind mapping is just a tool to achieve this same goal.

I also recently started to keep a log of things that I am learning, and reading and watching right now.

Of course, this is all, work in progress and ever changing. But having this list, keeps me clear and focused on what it is that I want to be doing with my time and how I want to get there.


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