Mind Mapping: 5 Ways To Achieve More With MindMeister

Mind Mapping: 5 Ways to Achieve More With MindMeister

I love mind mapping, and use maps for everything, from business plans to developing books. Over time, I’ve used many apps, because I’ve never found the perfect application. So, when I friend recommended MindMeister, my reaction was: gimme! Who knows? Perfection may be within reach…

Not so. I’ll still use Inspiration, and TheBrain (and a couple of other apps.) However, MindMeister will be joining my arsenal of creative tools, for two reasons: the primary reason is that I like it. Nudging a close second, collaboration: MindMeister is ideal for collaboration, because you can work with others simultaneously on the same map.

If you’re into mind mapping too, check out MindMeister. Here are five ways you can achieve more with it.

1. Collaborate on Projects in Brainstorming Mode.

You can collaborate with others, simultaneously on the same map. You’ll see who’s editing a mind map with you in the footer. You can also chat with your team as you brainstorm and edit. To see who’s made changes and additions; just turn on the History View. All your chats are saved.

I coach writers, so this collaboration feature is wonderful, if I’m mentoring an author with a book, for example.

2. Use MindMeister’s Presentation Mode in Meetings.

MindMeister’s ideal for presentations. Prepare your map, and when you’re ready to go, start the presentation by clicking the presentation icon at the bottom left of the screen. To share your presentation when you’re done, click the share icon, and export in your choice of formats, including PDF and FreeMind.

3. Track Anything. (I’m Tracking My Blogs and Product Updates. )

Much as I love blogging, once you’ve lots of blog posts – I’ve got over 2,000 posts on a couple of my blogs – you tend to lose track of exactly what you were trying to achieve during a particular month, or with a series of posts.

Spreadsheets let you track on a granular level. With mind maps on the other hand, you can get an instant visual overview. Additionally, MindMeister lets you link to topics in other mind maps, so if a particular topic gets too unwieldy, you can start a new mind map for it.

I’m also tracking product updates. I’ve got dozens of ebooks and classes to manage and MindMeiser lets me see what I need to add, and when. History View lets you see the entire history of a mind map, and you can assign and edit tasks easily.

4. You’re Free – Go Mobile: Work and Plan Anywhere.

MindMeister’s mobile apps are clever. Once you’ve installed it on your device, you can work on any of your maps, anywhere you happen to be.

5. Remember Stuff: Take Notes From Meetings, and Books.

Who said what at a meeting? What brilliant questions were asked? Just add notes to a mind map in MindMeister. You’ll easily find this material later, because MindMeister’s search features are fast; you can search an open map, or search all your maps from the dashboard.

These days, I do most of my reading on my iPad. I’m ashamed to admit this, but I’ll buy a Kindle version of a print book I own, simply because it’s easier to both take notes, and to FIND them again. (Sigh, I feel like a traitor to my favorite people, librarians.) Amazon saves every note, and every highlight from every book on your Kindle page. Each of your books has its own page, so you can add the URL to a mind map to view all your highlights and notes for a book.

So there you have it: five ways to achieve more with MindMeiser – you can create up to three mind maps for free. You’ll enjoy it as much as I do. :-)

, and on Twitter: @angee

Pages for Mac: What’s New and Useful?

Pages for Mac: What's New and Useful?

Are you a Mac user? If you are, you know that OS X Mavericks is here. Apple’s iWork suite has been updated too, so let’s look at what’s new and useful in Pages.

Here’s a pleasant surprise, not only is Mavericks free, but if you own Pages et al, those updates are free too. However, Apple’s new free update policy is confusing, to say the least:

If you want your free iWork and iLife apps—on OS X Mavericks or on iOS—you have to first visit the Mac App Store to do so. When you do, however, the “Buy” button for those apps will be replaced with “Download” or “Update” (or the iCloud icon on the iOS App Store).

So if you already own Pages, open the App Store and download your free update. :-)

Oh no, where’s the status bar?

With luck, an updated app offers speed enhancements as well as new features. Unfortunately, features you rely on tend to vanish when the user interface is “improved.” I hate that.

You’ll notice that Pages’ floating panels are now part of the workspace; accessed via the Toolbar. All well and good; the full screen view’s much improved, because the document thumbnails and formatting tools are within reach.

My sole quibble’s the status bar. I’ve dug around, but I can’t find it. Why remove the status bar? I’m used to checking the bar for the word count. Now the word counter floats at the bottom of the document. Not an improvement, for me anyway. You may love it.

OK, enough with the quibbling, here’s what I like.

Useful: instant updating on all devices, via iCloud

Initially, I missed File/ Save As, but I’ve gotten used to it. I opened an older document on my computer to test Pages, and saving it to iCloud was easy. You just click the dropdown list next to the document’s name in the title bar, and choose iCloud, as you can see in the image below.

iCloud sharing

Open Pages on another device, and keep working on your document. I opened my iPad, and there the document was. You’ll need to update to iOS 7 for this to work.

Useful: easy document sharing, anywhere you choose

Document sharing’s simplicity itself in Pages now. Just click the Share icon in the Toolbar, and share a link, or share a copy of the document. Sharing options: Mail, Messages, Twitter, or Facebook.

You can see when a document’s shared, and you can also stop sharing it. Here’s the Sharing dialog, in the image below.

a shared document


Brilliant! Collaborate on the Web with Pages for iCloud

Although this latest version of Pages makes document revisions easier, I’m thrilled with the new iWork for iCloud. You can work with anyone on a document, just share the link, and they can open it in any Web browser to make changes. (Click the Gear icon, and choose Share Document to get the link.)

iCloud collaboration

Pages for iCloud

If you’re as tired of juggling documents, people and document revisions as I am, Pages for iCloud will make you smile with delight.

So there you have it: a taste of what’s new and useful in Pages for Mac. Download and enjoy. :-)
, and on Twitter: @angee

Get Organized and Blog: (Free) Trello Makes It Easy

Get Organized and Blog

Want to make blogging easier? One word: planning. Plan your content, and then collect material for blog posts as you go through your day.

I’ve talked about blog planning before. Trello’s one of my favorite tools for planning various forms of writing. For me, it’s invaluable for plotting novels, as well as for collecting material for nonfiction.

Trello’s especially useful for blogging. If you’re a professional blogger, and blog for others, you’ll bless Trello. You can create a Trello board for each blog, so that you can focus on one blog at a time. And if you blog on the go as I often do, you can check your boards anywhere, on any device – Android, iOS, or Windows 8 Tablet.

Collect the graphics and other materials you want to use

When you’re planning blog posts, you need more than text. These days, graphics are vital, so that your posts stand out. You can drag the images you want to use this week or this month onto separate cards: an image will often provide the seed of a post. Add additional cards for keywords, post descriptions, and title ideas.

Once you’ve collected your materials, posts will almost write themselves.

Trello makes it easy to collaborate with others. After you’ve created a board, you can invite people to share it. They can add cards with information like checklists, assign tasks, and everyone working with a board gets notified of any changes.

Search and (never) destroy

Forgot which board you added a note to? Trello’s search works across all boards, so no matter how many lists and cards you and your co-workers add, you can find what you want easily.

Of course you can keep boards private too. No one else can see your personal boards.

If there’s a mistake – someone removes a list or a card – you can get it out of the archive. Trello is forgiving: you can add, move and remove lists and cards as much as you want to… and get material back if you need it.

Trello is an amazing tool for bloggers. Give it a try. You may find that blogging becomes less of a chore, because Trello will inspire you.


, and on Twitter: @angee

Smart Word Processing With Quip: Words Anywhere

Quip: smart word processing

Want a super-easy way to collaborate with others on your documents? Say hello to Quip, the social word processor: it combines document creation and editing with messaging.

I’ve found Quip very easy to use in the early stages of working with clients. If a copywriting client wants to see headlines I’ve developed, or the text of an ad, I just type the client’s name in the Sharing box, and I can invite him to share the document via email or text.

Quip will never replace the Reviewing Pane in MS Word however. It’s not meant for long, complex documents. Your mileage may vary, but I couldn’t imagine working on a long sales page, or (shudder) a book proposal in Quip.

Everyday documents however, are fun to create and work on. If you’re collaborating with someone on a blog, you can share your notes, draft posts, and thoughts easily.

No collaborators? You can use Quip as an word processing app on your desktop if you wish, or on a device. I find Quip a struggle to use on my phone, but it’s perfect on the iPad, where you have a larger keyboard.

Quip on iPad
Insertions in Quip on the iPad

As you can see in the above image, on the iPad you just hit the Insert button, and you can insert a table, a mention (someone’s name), a link to another document or folder, or a link to a Web page.

If you hit the Paragraph icon to the left of the Insert button, you can add a heading or a list to a document.

My favorite feature in Quip is the Chat tab. If you’re working in a browser and someone sends you a message, you’ll see it immediately. You can chat back in the chat box, or in the relevant document.

Create as many folders as you need

Quip’s divided into three main areas: the Inbox, the Desktop, and the Editor. On Quip’s Desktop, you can add folders. I’ve created folders for each client, and I have a “home” folder, for personal documents.

You can drag your folders around on the desktop to order them, and create sub-folders as well. If you want to archive a folder, just drag it into a folder you’re using as an archive.

It’s worth mentioning that you don’t need to be online to use Quip. If you’re using it on a device like your tablet, you can send messages, create documents, and edit existing documents. Everything gets synced as soon as you have a connection again. Quip has the smoothest sync I’ve ever seen. Work on a document in the browser on your desktop, then check your phone, and changes are synced almost instantly.

Quip Basic is free for up to five users, and you can share folders. Quip Business is $12 per month per user for up to 250 users, with an Admin Console, and more.

What I like about Quip

Almost everything, especially Markdown – any word processor which lets me use Markdown gets my vote.

What I don’t like

Getting documents into Quip is limited to copy and paste.

Also, there’s no HTML export that I can see. You can get your docs out by printing them, and by saving them as PDFs. Why no HTML export? You’d assume that that would be easy, since your docs are created in Markdown.

Sigh… there’s always a weevil in the gingerbread… ;-)

, and on Twitter: @angee