Wednesday, May 1, 2002

Visualize and organize your thoughts with MindManager Mobile


By Bill Mann

Palm OS handhelds are great places to record those random thoughts you have during the day. You have an idea. You whip out your handheld and scribble it down. You get back to what you were doing. So far, so good. But now what do you do with the mass of random notes you've scribbled down? How do you organize them? How do you visualize the relationships between them?

If you're like me, you create a mind map.

What is a mind map?

A mind map is a visual representation of chunks of information and the relationships between those chunks.

Starting with a central topic, idea, or theme, say the idea for a magazine article, you would create a basic mind map by writing a phrase that identifies the central theme in the center of a piece of paper. Next, write phrases identifying key topics around the central theme. Then portray the relationships between the topics and the central theme (and perhaps between topics) by drawing lines connecting things that are related. A topic connected to the central theme or another topic is known as a branch. Repeat the process for each topic, creating branches containing more detailed information for that topic, until you have a map of all the important information. This is your mind map. Some of the benefits of creating a mind map include:

  • The visual representation of the information engages the visual part of your brain in understanding and organizing the information.
  • The relationships between chunks of information (those random notes you've been scribbling down) are explicitly stated.
  • By providing short phrases that represent larger chunks of information (and their relationships) a relatively simple mind map can allow the easy recall of a large amount of information.

Mind maps can be created by hand, as in the example you just read, or by using specialized computer programs. Figure A shows a piece of a mind map I created to help me write this article. I created it using one of those specialized mind-mapping programs, MindManager, from Mindjet LLC (at


This figure shows part of this article's mind map. (click for larger image)

Figure A comes from MindManager Business Edition, a version of the product that resides on a Windows PC. But the version of MindManager you really want to hear about is MindManager Mobile Edition.

MindManager Mobile

MindManager Mobile Edition is a standard Palm OS application that lives on your Palm handheld and allows you to do basic mind mapping, although not in quite such a graphically-intensive way. MindManager Mobile allows you to attach notes to branches, so instead of continuing to fill your Palm handheld with random notes that you then need to organize and manage, you can add your thoughts right into the mind maps they apply to.