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Organising your life often begins with lists. Shopping list, to do lists, party invitation list, holiday packing lists, - who hasn't made some of these. But when you dive in and start making a list, you have often missed out the vital stage of planning a top-down approach. For example, anyone can make a list to pack a suitcase, but going on holiday is far more than packing. You have to check your passport is still valid, that you've obtained foreign currency, that you've booked travel insurance, that someone's going to look after the cat . . . This is where emindmaps comes in. This program is often provided free on magazine cover disks, or it can be obtained from http://www.mindjet.com/emm/emm.html . Its also worth looking at the free download sites because it often appears there too. Emindmaps basically provides a way for you to think in big categories before getting bogged down in details. Take the holiday example - now if you start by thinking of: - things I have to do before I book, - things I need after I've booked - things to take away with me - things to do while I'm away Soon you've got a structure on which to drop-out your lists. Emindmaps is a program which lets you draw a diagram of all this. You start by putting "holiday" in the middle of a blank page. Then you press space, and a line appears from that with a text box, in which you can right "packing". Press Insert and another line appears from that line and you can put "suitcase" in the text box. Click on packing again and press insert and you can put "cabin bag" on another branch. And so on and so on. Imagine a spider shaped diagram, with each of the legs branching into other legs and you get the idea. Maybe this sounds a bit too organised for you, but its amazing how many things you can use it for. Planning a college assignment for example, or somebody's
birthday party. Anything where you need to get your thought in order in fact. Before you know where you are, the mind-map approach becomes second nature whenever something complicated crops up. It can also be used for problem solving. Shall I dump my boy/girl-friend for example? Place the persons name in the middle of a new page, and list out all the things they do/don't do for you. Friendship, sex, support, status etc, etc, and then list the negatives, like "got too used to them", "doesn't look too good", "relationship not going anywhere etc". Take the last of these branches. Why isn't it going anywhere? More branches come off that one, like, "boring", "need a change", "money restrictions" and so on. When you've eventually worked round all the branches and filled them all in, you'll have a much better idea of the problem and you will probably be able to come to a better decision. The program is dead easy to use. Its very simple, but also gives you basic formatting options like colouring the lines in different shades, putting little icons on them, and adding in hyper-links to websites. When you've finished your mind-map you can print it out, save it as a graphic file for inserting into another application like a word processor, or even or save it as a webpage. Mind mapping is nothing new of course. I highly recommend you to read one of Tony Buzan's books, like "The Mind Map Handbook". You don't need this program to do mind-mapping but it certainly helps you to organise your thought and then to share them with others or to document them in a professional way. Highly recommended in my view. Especially if you can get it for free.