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How Mind Mapping Can Make Freelancers More Productive

By now, you’ve probably seen a number of Geekpreneur posts about mind mapping. Mind maps are a powerful tool that when used properly can multiply your productivity.

Here are some of the general ways that mind mapping can make the average freelancer (and other people) more productive in their work, followed by a list of some specific uses.

  1. Offers blank canvas. Mind mapping software (or paper) gives you a blank canvas to work with.
  2. Facilitates brainstorming. Allows unstructured brainstorming where ideas can be organized later.
  3. Shows multiple detail views. You can switch between high-level and low-level detail, allowing you to see the big picture or focus when necessary.
  4. Cues learning. More closely resembles human thought processes, so mind mapping research notes on a topic makes it easier to remember the concepts as a whole. This makes it easier to learn complex topics.
  5. Integrates your digital workflow, since all mind mapping software allows map nodes to link to either other maps or document files. Clicking on a linked node fires up the default application for that file type.
  6. Controls your workload. Allows you to break down complex problems into more manageable parts. For example, you can take a piecemeal/ step by step approach to writing articles and other documents.
  7. Complexity flexibility. Mind maps can be simple or complex. Personal dashboards, for example, can be your daily workflow command center, integrating all your digtal/ web work tasks into one place.
  8. Controls admin records. Easy to keep project completion records, with links to invoice files or to web documents.
  9. Controls information overload. Freelancers – especially writers – often have to do a fair bit of research. Information overload can be a daily problem, but when using mind maps, it’s easy to build a reference map of articles, group and regroup information as necessary.

Some Daily Uses of Mind Mapping for Freelancers
Here are some more specific uses of mind maps for freelancers.

1. Personal Dashboard. A personal dashboard using a mind map allows you a powerful way to manage your work and personal life. Sections of a personal dashboard can start as a cluster of notes but can later transform into articles, documents, books, websites, business plans.

2. Task Management. Personal and work tasks are only a fragment of what you might put in a personal dashboard, but they’re an important part of your daily life. There are a variety of ways that you can manage tasks using mind maps. You can use them for simple to-do lists, track goal completion, develop ideas and more.

3. Idea Generation/ Idea Bank. Using mind mapping software, it’s fairly easy to simply brainstorm ideas. Once you’re finished brainstorming, you can applying filtering criteria to accept or reject each idea. After filtering your list down, you’re left with an idea bank. You can now easily organize your ideas. Hierarchies for information often “reveal” themselves, so it’s dificult to say in general how you should organize everything.

4. Learning Log. Mind maps aren’t just for brainstorming and recording ideas. If one of your tasks is to learn a subject or niche topic, mind maps allow you to build an organic knowledge base.

Start by recording what you know, in the same way that you might brainstorm. Brainstorm first, then organize your thoughts. Now arrange your notes into whatever natural information hierarchy occurs. You can add notes to your knowledge base as you learn something new, and even turn it into an idea bank.

Need to learn a language so that you can translate your writing (or someone else’s)? Mind mapping is one of the most ideal ways to learn a language. Not only can you link to web pages with podcasts or lessons, you can add images to map nodes to speed the learning process. You can build your own paced lesson plan this way, and with some mind mapping packages, share interactive maps.

5. Problem-Solving. A visual approach to problem solving often stimulates solutions that might not otherwise have occurred to you.

  1. It allows you a big-picture view of the problem, although you can zoom in on details as well.
  2. Mind mapping also allows you to break a problem down into component parts and dissect it piecemeal.
  3. Allows you to explore relevant questions and various options radiantly, without confiining you like a list or spreadsheet would.
  4. Stimulates “intersection” (Medici Effect) solutions from unrelated disciplines. These are those types of solutions that are often labelled “inspired.”

6. Scope, Plan, Develop and Write a Book. Regardless of the type of freelancing you do, if you plan to write a book about your skills, mind mapping software is a perfect tool. Some mind mapping tools are even integrated with word processing software, making conversion from map to finished document even simpler. Mind mapping also works for developing novels.

7. Document Version Control. Create a sophisticated version control manager for your documents, whether you write articles or code, do graphic design, or some other form of digital freelancing work.

8. Easy-Access Password Cache. Freelancers often have to maintain multiple website accounts. A password cache mind map allows you to hiearchically organize accounts by category of web service. Add in the site’s logo or favicon and you have a visual cue to find passwords faster. Most mind mapping programs let you link a map node to web page, so you can activate each web service from its corresponding map node.


  1. Leo Says:

    Hi Raj,

    I have always used mind maps to map out my link profile...it gives me a better idea of where my site stands and how much work is being done....plus I can add notes of what else I need to do.

  2. Cliff Spicer Says:

    I came across your site and I had always wanted a better explanation of how to use mindmaps as personal dashboards and found your posts excellent. I have been split between wanting a web app to keep my dashboard available wherever I am and the robustness of a desktop app like MindManager which I love. I have found a compromise that is working excellent so far. I have been using MindManager on the desktops and created a free dropbox account to store my mindmaps. Now if I am at a different computer I can use the app but the data is always online and up to date. I have not tried this for my dashboard yet but if I was on a public computer with web access only I can import my mindjet file into mind42.com and I am up and running again. If I make major changes to the map I can export it as a mindjet file, put it in my dropbox and I am off and running again.

    Cliff Spicer

  3. Ian Lewis Says:

    I like opensource http://freemind.sourceforge.net mindmapper.
    Also cmap (concept maps) is a free mapping tool http://cmap.ihmc.us/conceptmap.html

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