September 5th, 2012/Productivity/By /

Productivity: Mindmaps: My Favorite Tool for Taming Information Overload

Thankfully there’s software so I don’t have to mindmap by hand

One of the biggest issues we all deal with is information overload. We have unlimited access  knowledge because of the internet, but we need to be able to separate the noise from the gems. Too many people just read books / articles all day but they don’t really take time to digest and really understand the material. Don’t be an information addict.

It’s not just about what you know, it’s also your ability to connect different ideas, remember it, and implement it. One thing I’ve learned over the years is to not trust my brain when it comes to remembering things.

My favorite tool to help me deal with this is something called mindmapping. I use to traditionally outline all my notes growing up; mind maps are the visual way of doing that. My documents folders has around 1,000+ mind maps, and I have a few open on my computer at any given time. That’s how much I use them.

Rather than explain what a mindmap is, I’ll show you an example.

trying to get brolic

I’m trying to bulk up the next few months and set my strategy using a mind map. If I need to remember something, I’ll open it up and easily find it. Anytime I find a useful strategy, I’ll add it to the map.

I love Mindmaps because they

  • Easily visualize & connect the dots
  • Simplify the Complex
  • Reduce Information Overload.
  • Easy Recall. Don’t trust your memory

Software Recommendations

Mindmaps have actually been around since the 3rd century and people have been drawing them by hand until the past few decades. Fortunately we now have amazing software that makes it simple.

I use Mindjet Mindmanager, which is the best of the best. It’s expensive but it’s more than paid itself off for me. There are plenty of free ones out there you can use on the web and there’s also a few on the Ipad.

For a free alternative check out MindMeister. If you become a power user of Mindmaps then definitely look into investing in MindManager.

Examples of How I use Mind Maps

I use mindmaps extensively for my internet marketing business. Four years later I’m still learning something new everyday and it’s important for me to organize it.

Traffic Sources

very basic mindmap of traffic sources

There’s a few hundred places to buy traffic from so it’s important to create your own resource. (If you want to start on your own, Here’s one to start you off with)

I’ll start by breaking the traffic sources down into categories, and then listing them individually.

After that I’ll start writing in specific information & learnings I find about that traffic source.

  • Tracking tokens they use
  • Which Countries / Placements have the most volume
  • Bidding strategies
  • My rep’s contact information
  • Verticals that work well

Most people just work with a few traffic sources and you can create a mind map just for that.

I have one I’ve made for Facebook – it contains a history of my campaigns the past few years, optimization strategies, ad approval techniques, how to cloak, how to get more accounts, etc.


Brainstorming a battery app install a few months ago

Before I start any campaigns I’ll spend 30 minutes brainstorming different angles and headlines. I don’t like to look at competitor ads in this stage because I don’t want any influences. By doing it this way I might be able to hit on an profitable angle or two that no one’s explored yet.

Here’s how I do it in MindManager. Set a timer for 10 minutes. We’re going to use this mode called “Quick Entry” where you write an idea down, hit enter, and write the next idea. By using this mode we don’t have to worry about formatting or how the ideas relate to each other. I’m just focused on coming up with ideas.

After I’m done brainstorming I’ll go through and see which ones are worth keeping.

Planning Campaigns

There’s a lot that goes into a campaign.

  • What traffic sources to use
  • Which networks to use
  • How am I going to track?
  • Angles I’m going to use
  • Targeting
  • Ideas for headlines / ads
  • Due dates
  • etc.

I’ll also set my optimization game plan as well. Mindmanager lets me “flag” things so I might have a set order where I’m going to focus on split testing the images first in the ads (1), and then the headlines afterwards (2).

You can also use Mindmaps as a to-do list. However, I prefer mindmapping to begin with, and then breaking things down into tasks for my to do list (I currently use Omnifocus)

Knowledge Management

If you learn a valuable insight, don’t forget it! Some topics I’ve mind mapped on

  • How do I Increase my Ad CTR?
  • My favorite restaurants around the city
  • How do I optimize my sleep?
  • Strategies to maximize my frequent flyer miles.

Anytime you have a topic you wanna master, map it out and put all relevant knowledge there.

Taking Notes on Books

I usually read 1-2 books a week and it can get hard to remember everything later on. Now I’ll read a book on my iPad, and mindmap on my laptop at the same time. This makes me pay more attention to my reading because I have to summarize it.

Rework by 37Signals

Here’s an example of how I mind mapped one of my favorite books. See how much information is in that book? If you think about it, what’s the point of taking 10 hours to read a book if you’re not going to remember the details later on? I rather spend some extra time to map it out so I can revisit it anytime.

How Else Do I Use MindMaps?

  • Setting Goals
  • Decision making / problem Solving
  • Take notes from a meeting
  • Plan trips
  • etc.

 Action Steps

  1. Find a mindmapping program to use.
  2. Create your first mindmap
  3. Think of ways you can start using mindmaps more everyday

Trust me, this is tool you want to start using if you haven’t already. I just bought a mic so maybe I’ll do a screencast later on and show you guys how I mind map.