Mind Maps® are almost unmentioned in accountancy circles. I don't know why. They’re an extraordinarily useful tool, and they can be easily generated on a computer. Mind Maps can reduce the time taken to achieve some tasks by as much as 80%, so it is staggering that they have attracted so little attention in a profession where, quite literally, time saved is equivalent to money made.
In essence Mind Maps are simple. They are a graphical way of organising your thoughts. The simple rule is "one big idea, one Mind Map". Whatever that big idea or subject is, you write it in a box in the middle of your screen if you're using software, or the page if you’re still living in the age of the quill. It looks something like this:
Then you began to draw more boxes radiating out from that central one, each of which is the title for a theme you wish to explore related to the subject you're considering. So, to expand the to do list you might draw the following radial boxes:
Of course, you may not get these right first time. On paper you correct that by using a pencil and rubber, or Tippex, or by starting again. Using software is different. You can amend any box at any time, or drag them around your screen until you're happy. And there's no limit to the number of times you can do that.
You may not know you've got it wrong though until you've begun to explore each sub theme. This is done by adding "branch structures". Each should represent an increasing degree of detail, so that as the branches get more remote from the centre the more developed the branch is, but the less significant it also is in the overall plan.
Put simply Mind Maps have a wide range of uses for speeding the production of many routine tasks.
Iinserting a new item is easy. You just click on the branch header where you want it to go and a text box appears in which you write the entry. Then you push enter, and it appears:
Mind Map meeting minutes
One task that benefited from this technique recently was minute taking. Most accountants will face situations where they have to take minutes at a board or other meeting. I did so recently during a two-hour telephone conference. In doing so I understudied for a colleague who I know hates the process, as he generally reckons it takes five hours to write, edit and get out the minutes after such events.