MindNode Triad
Headshot. Mike, an Executive Editor for a productivity publisher, wearing dark framed glasses and smiling in front of a seamless white background.
by Gregory Bondaruk on December 09, 2021

Developing Ideas & Being Creative – How Mike stays Productive with MindNode

Hi Mike! Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am the Executive Editor at The Sweet Setup where I write about using Apple technology to be more productive and creative. I'm the architect and producer behind many of the training courses available there, like Mastering Mindmaps and To Obsidian and Beyond.

I also co-host the Focused podcast with David Sparks where we talk about intentional productivity, the Bookworm podcast with Joe Buhlig we read and discuss a lot of books relating to productivity and creativity, and the Intentional Family podcast with my wife where we share what we've learned while raising 5 kids together.

I have a few of my own courses available on my personal website, and I share my Sermon Sketchnote videos there every week.

So TL;DR - I make a lot of stuff on the web. And MindNode is a big reason why I can.

How did you discover mind mapping?

My dad introduced me to the concept of mind mapping on paper when I was in high school, but I had no interest in it until I listened to the Mac Power Users episode on Cooking Ideas. Once I tried mind mapping on the computer, I immediately fell in love with the ability to drag nodes around on the screen and see the layout automatically update in real-time.

How does it help you?

Mind mapping is an essential part of my idea development system.

For me, mind mapping is where I develop my ideas. Whenever I sit down to write, I always spend time mind mapping my ideas for the article first. This helps me gain clarity and makes the act of writing MUCH easier once I do sit down at the keyboard.

I estimate that every hour I spend mind mapping saves me two hours when I sit down to write.

In addition to being an essential part of my creative workflow, I also use mind mapping for book notes. I read a lot of books, and I always read physical books to minimize distractions. I do always have my iPhone with me though, and I like to take notes in mind map format. I love the ability to embed pictures from my iPhone camera, which I use to add diagrams or other interesting visuals. When I get done, they look something like this.

A mind map showing Mike's book notes

There are lots of other places I'll occasionally use mind mapping (when planning product scope, for example) but writing and reading account for about 95% of my mind mapping.

Which device do you mind map on?

The start of Mike's mind map on an iPhone

I almost always start mind mapping from my iPhone. When taking book notes, I start by finding an image of the book's cover on Google and placing that in the middle, then fleshing out the major sections of the book before I start reading. Then I add things as I go that stand out to me or that I know I will want to remember later.

For writing, I'm never quite sure what an idea will look like when I start. I'll frequently start on my iPhone and go for a walk where I just noodle on the topic and flesh out the mind map as I go. If I feel the idea is substantial, I'll switch to the iPad because I like the larger canvas. I almost never mind map on my Mac however because I enjoy physically touching the nodes and moving them around on the screen. It's a little thing, but it makes me feel much more connected to my ideas as I develop them.

Are there any MindNode features that are particularly helpful?

Mike using Focus Mode while making book notes

When I’m developing an idea before I sit down to write it, I like to use MindNode’s folding feature to help “see the forest through the trees.” I find it helpful to fold up sections that I’m finished developing so my brain can attach more easily to the specific section I’m working on. Then when I sit down to write, I use the Focus feature to highlight just the section I’m currently writing.

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