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Free Your Mind with XMind

Free Your Mind with XMind

Free Your Mind with XMind

    Mind-mapping is a popular tool for brainstorming ideas, outlining projects, and organizing information. While some people feel most comfortable mind-mapping with pencils or pens and paper, others enjoy the ease and accessibility of software-based mind-mapping, and there are a variety of tools designed to help make, share, and store mind-maps on your computer. Some, like MindManager and iMindMap are powerful, enterprise-level programs, with price tags to match; free programs like FreeMind don’t have the same features, but for daily use by individuals, they are quite powerful and capable tools. There are even a range on online mind-mapping tools like bubbl.us and Mind42.

    My new favorite mind-mapping tool is XMind, a free, open-source mind-mapping program with a useful (though limited) online component. XMind is incredibly easy to use, allowing you to make and share good-looking mind-maps (and flowcharts, outlines, org charts, and other visual representations of textual data) with a minimum of fuss.

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    Features

    XMind Logo

      XMind is a free download for Windows, Mac, or Linux computers. It is quite intuitive to use — for standard mind-maps, simply select a node, hit “Enter” to create a sibling node (one at the same “level”) or “Tab” to create a “child” node (one under whatever level you’re currently at). When you create a new node, just start typing to create a label, hit “Enter” when you’re done, and hit “Enter” or “Tab” to continue with a new node. If you want to edit or change the label on any node, just double-click it.

      A sidebar panel contains a hierarchical representation of your mind-map, for quick navigation, and below that formatting options to change both the appearance (font, colors, etc.) and the structure of your mind-map — you can switch “on-the-fly” from a standard bubble-map to an org-chart, fishbone chart, outline, or several other pre-configured layouts.

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      XMind is drag-and-drop enabled, too, so you can move nodes around in relation to each other. A set of limited drawing tools allows you to create secondary connections between items, or group them together.

      Nodes take more than just labels. You can attach external files, embed images, insert hyperlinks, and attach notes, all from the right-click menu or the standard menu bars.

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        Exporting and Sharing

        Once your mind=map is done, you can export it in a number of formats: images (bmp, jpeg, gif, and png are all supported), HTML, or text are available, as well as XMind’s own formats.

        XMind also includes an online web-based component where you can post your mind-maps for public viewing and sharing. Users can download any of the mind-maps in the public repository and import them into their own install of XMind. You can also embed mind-maps into your website.

        Unfortunately, private sharing is unavailable in the free version; if you want to use XMind to collaborate on sensitive topics, you will need to use the Pro version.

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        Pro features

        Other features lacking from XMind’s free version but available with a paid upgrade include new views — such as GANTT charts and a GTD todo item feature; a presentation view allowing users to show mind-maps in full-screen; the ability to record audio notes (useful for recording a lecture while mind-mapping your notes — notes are time-tied to the recording itself); and more export formats including PDF, Word, PowerPoint, and MindManager.

        The Pro version is not particularly affordable, unfortunately. In fact, the developers have chosen to license XMind Pro with a subscription model, which is quite unfortunate. To upgrade, expect to shell out $6.00 a month, or $49 a year. I realize that users are getting ongoing access to the web features, but I would much rather see a one-time fee for what is primarily a traditional, desktop-based piece of software.

        I’m also surprised to see that, with so many online mind-mapping apps out there, XMind has not make it possible to create, edit, and clone mind-maps using the online interface. The upload, share, download, and edit model now is hardly an effective way to collaborate — it would be easier just to email the files back and forth, and just as unsatisfactory. Hopefully XMind will continue to develop the online component to add true live collaboration in the near future.

        Conclusion

        Despite some small faults (which are really external to the program itself), XMind is a fine mind-mapping program. For individual users who don’t need to work collaboratively, XMind has all the features you should need, with a very low learning curve. It’s effective and even fun to use — and that’s key, because mind-mapping is all about transforming work into creative play in order to unleash your inner creativity. Longtime readers of this site know I have a somewhat conflicted relationship with mind-mapping, but with XMind, I was able to start producing really useful mind-maps in a matter of minutes.

        I highly recommend you try it out for yourself: XMind.

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        Last Updated on November 3, 2020

        50 Ways to Increase Productivity and Achieve More in Less Time

        50 Ways to Increase Productivity and Achieve More in Less Time

        If you feel like you don’t have enough time to do everything you want to do, maybe it’s time to check-in with your time management skills.

        No one is born to be very good at time management, so that’s okay if you think you’re bad in it. But everyone can learn to boost their productivity and achieve more!

        Here are 50 ways to increase productivity and add hours to your day.

        1. Set a Timer

        Estimate the time you need to tackle different tasks and set a timer for each of your tasks. How you go about this is up to you as there are many different ways. There is the Pomodoro technique where you focus on a task for 25 minutes followed by a five minute break afterwards.

        In the event that you have a task that will take much longer than that, you can consider one of the many timer-based apps. One that comes to mind is Clockify. It’s used for freelancers and entrepreneurs alike, however it’s a good way to be setting yourself a timer. It provides reports and you can serve as a project manager of sorts too. Best of all, it’s free.

        Download Clockify here.

          2. Eliminate All Distractions

          Distractions include the phone, email notifications and having multiple web browsers open on the desktop. Just as it’s important to be organized offline, it’s key to have things organized online as well. One consideration is trying out Freedom an app that allows you to block certain sites during periods of time. Try it out on your phone here.

          You can also learn more on how to get rid of all distractions in this guide: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

          3. Listen to Music That Boosts Productivity

          Distractions should be avoided, but sometimes a bit of music in the background can help you focus.

          Of course, it doesn’t need to be heavy rock music, but a bit of Beethoven may do you some good.

          Here’s a complete guide to help you pick the right music for better productivity: How To Maximize Your Productivity With Music: A Complete Guide

          4. Find Meaning in What You Do (And Love What You Do)

          Enjoying what you do is the ultimate way to increase your productivity.

          If you aren’t sure what you love doing yet, don’t worry. Leo Babauta has some unique ways to help you: How to Find Your Passion

          5. Prioritize your tasks ahead of time.

          By listing your tasks in order of importance, you can make sure that you finish all of your most important tasks during the day.

          Learn a unique technique to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster.

          6. Batch Similar Tasks into a Single Batch.

          Tasks like blog writing, phone calls, email and errands can be grouped into a single batch. You will save time by completing similar tasks in one session. One way to help you with organizing all of those things is through the app Todoist. It’s an easy and simple way for you to plan out your day, set reminders, and group all of your most important tasks in a convenient spot.

          Download Todoist here.

            7. Complete Your Most Dreaded Tasks First Thing in the Morning.

            Whichever activity you are dreading the most is probably the one you need to complete first thing in the morning.

            Many people tend to check emails in the morning because after checking a list of emails, they feel fulfilled. But that’s just an illusion of having achieved more.

            Doing simple tasks like checking emails first in the morning is bad for you. Instead, do the difficult tasks because you have more energy in the morning to tackle them!

            8. Reward Yourself for Finishing a Big Task

            To stay motivated for whatever you do, reward yourself every now and then.

            Keep track of your small wins and milestones and celebrate them. So whenever you struggle about your progress, you see how far you’ve come!

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            Find out more about this 2-Step Approach to Self-Motivation: Track Small Wins and Reward Yourself.

            9. Don’t Multitask

            Research has shown that multitasking is not productive. If you think you can multitask, think again.

            For optimum productivity, focus on one thing at a time.

            10. Step Away from the Computer

            The Internet has become one of the number one distraction. To increase your productivity, try to do as much of your work offline as possible.

            I do this a lot when I try to brainstom new ideas and have found it to be very beneficial to simply unplug.

            11. Use Focus Tools

            Make good use of apps and technology to help you remove distractions.

            Here’re 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools to help you stay focused. This way, you’re not distracted by the web, e-mail, or IM.

            12. Just Start

            Often times, starting is the hardest part. People tend to wait for the perfect time with perfect condition to start. But there’s no perfect condition.

            Once you get going, you will quickly get into a rhythm that could last for hours.

            13. Find out Your Productive Hours

            Everyone has a certain time of the day in which they are more productive than others. For me, it’s the morning.

            Find out when your prime time is for productivity and optimize your work schedule accordingly.

            14. Keep a Notebook and Pen on Hand at All Times

            This way, you can write down your thoughts, to-dos and ideas at any time. The key is to get everything out of your head and onto paper. Your subconscious mind won’t be reminding you about it every other second. Another consideration is getting the app Evernote. Not only does this save you on ink and paper, Evernote is a convenient place for you to jot down notes and thoughts and then share them with the team. In certain circumstances, this can prove useful if you’re the type of person that has a lot of ideas that you want to share.

            Download Evernote here.

              15. Write a Blog to Chronicle Your Own Personal Development and Achievements

              The blog keeps you accountable and always working towards self improvement and personal growth.

              When you write down all the small achievements you’ve been having, you’re also more motivated to move forward.

              And you know what, this is how I started Lifehack too! What also helped me in starting Lifehack is WordPress, which allows people to set up a website for free. WordPress has simplified a lot of the process of building a site to the point that virtually anyone can build a website now.

              Try WordPress out here.

              16. Write out a To-Do-List Each Day

              I like to plan my day the night before. This way, I can get started on my most important tasks as soon as I wake up.

              Make sure you don’t make any of these common to-do-list mistakes!

              17. Write Your Most Important Tasks and To-Dos on a Calendar.

              The key to good time management is knowing where to be and what to be doing there at any given time. Effective calendar management goes hand in hand with good task list management.

              Learn here How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space.

              18. Reflect on Your Productivity Constantly

              As you go throughout your day, repeatedly ask yourself:

              “Am I currently making the best possible use of my time?”

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              This one simple question can be an excellent boost to your productivity.

              19. Get up Early Before Anyone Else

              I know it could be difficult for some to wake up early in the morning but nothing beats a quiet house!

              Here’s How to Start Your Day at 5:00 AM and some Simple Things Early Risers Do to make waking up early easier.

              20. Get Plenty of Sleep

              When you work online, sleep can become a long lost memory. However, it’s important to get plenty of sleep so that your working hours can be as productive as possible.

              Try out this night routine which I highly recommend for productivity: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide: Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

              21. Exercise

              Research has shown that midday exercise boosts productivity and morale in the workplace.

              Take a short walk at lunch or do some simple stretches during your break to maximize your productivity.

              Here I have some exercises recommendations for you:

              22. Outsource as Much as Possible

              If you want to achieve more in less time, learn to delegate or outsource work. Here are just a few of the companies that will help you outsource your everyday tasks:

              Also, read this guide to learn how to delegate effectively: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

              23. Set Some Exciting Goals

              Without worthy goals, you will never be motivated to get things done.

              Set goals that are challenging and achievable. The best goal setting framework is a SMART goal. That said, there are other tools that can help you out as well.

              For example, Strides is an app that takes the SMART goal framework and amplifies it through reports, charts, and other helpful information to help you achieve your goals faster and regularly.

              You can download Strides here.

                24. Tell Other People About Your Goals

                When you tell others about your goals, you will instantly be held accountable.

                25. Listen to Podcasts

                Listen to educational podcasts or audio books while you’re driving to work, cleaning the house, exercising, or cooking dinner.

                Audio learning has the power to add hours to your day. Not to mention, your cranium is sure to thank you for it.

                Some recommendations for you: 11 Podcasts To Inspire Yourself

                26. Read David Allen’s best-selling book Getting Things Done

                This is one of the most important productivity books you will ever read. Read it, apply the tips in your daily lives and get more things done.

                Here’re more great books about productivity too: 35 Books on Productivity and Organizational Skills for an Effective Life

                27. Learn to Speed Read

                When you can read faster, you will read and learn more! Check out these 10 Ways to Increase Your Reading Speed.

                You can also make use of the app OutRead to help speed up your reading speed!

                28. Learn to Skip When You Read

                When you’re reading a book, just read the parts that you need and skip the rest. But you have to read with a purpose.

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                Learn how to make it work here: How to Read 10X Faster and Retain More

                29. Focus on Result-Oriented Activities

                Pareto’s law (also known as the 80 20 rule) states that 80% of the outputs result from 20% of the inputs. This means that 20% of our actions result in 80% of the results.

                We must find the 20% that is creating the 80% of our desired outcomes and focus solely on those activities.

                30. Take a Break

                You can’t always be working at optimum productivity. Instead, you should shoot for working in short bursts at your most productive times.

                31. Start a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule

                What is polyphasic sleep?

                Polyphasic sleep is a sleep pattern specification intended to compress sleep time to 2-5 hours daily.[1] This is achieved by spreading out sleep into short (around 20-45 minute) naps throughout the day. This allows for more waking hours with relatively high alertness.

                While you can learn more about it here, you’re recommended to take some naps during the day to recharge your energy too.

                32. Learn to Say “No”.

                We can’t do everything and therefore we must learn when to say no in order to save our sanity.

                Learn the Gentle Art of Saying No from Leo Babauta.

                33. Go on an Information Diet

                Most of the world lives on information overload. We must eliminate mindless Internet surfing.

                Stop reading three different newspapers a day and checking your RSS feeds multiple times a day. Otherwise, you’ll never get anything done.

                The key is to limit yourself only to information that you can immediately take action on. Here’re some simple tips you can try: 10 Simple Productivity Tricks To Manage Overloaded Information

                34. Organize Your Office

                The piles of paper around your desk can be a huge barrier on your productivity. Optimize your time by organizing your office, setting up a system and dumping the junk.

                Check out these 21 Tips to Organize Your Office and Get More Done.

                35. Find a Mentor

                By modeling after those who have already achieved success, you will save yourself a lot of time and energy.

                A good mentor is hard to find, so here’s a guide to help you: What to Look for in a Mentor

                36. Learn Keyboard Shortcuts

                With technology’s help, you can double your work efficiency. Even better, you learn all the shortcuts when using technology, for example keyboard shortcuts.

                When you use keyboard shortcut, you gain 64 hours every year!

                Not sure what shortcuts to lear? Check out these 22 Tricks That Can Make Anyone A Keyboard Ninja.

                Besides learning the shortcuts, you can also create keyboard shortcuts with AutoHotKey.

                37. Improve Your Typing Speed to Save Time

                Do you know you can save 21 days per year just by typing fast?

                You don’t really need to take some serious courses to type faster, try these typing games online:

                38. Work from Home and Avoid the Daily Commute

                If your job is a flexible one, consider working from home. This saves you the commute time and you’ll find yourself more energetic throughout the day as you have saved the long ride.

                Take a look at these tips to help you stay productive while working from home:

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                How to Work from Home and Stay Ultra-Productive

                39. Get Rid of Time Wasters

                Common time wasters include Instant Messenger, video games, Flickr, checking your stats 10 times a day, television and extraneous Internet surfing.

                Don’t rely on your willpower, make use of some of these useful tools to help you stay focus: 10 Online Apps for Better Focus

                40. Plan Your Meals in Advance

                Plan out all of your meals a week ahead and make your grocery list accordingly. This allows you to focus on the necessary – saving you time and money. You can also save yourself even more time through a wide variety of apps. One app that I find helpful is Mealime. It’s an app that provides you with a wide selection of recipes and also a convenient spot for your grocery list as well.

                Considering the fact that over 4 million users have this app, it goes to show that there is a good selection of meal plans that you can follow and that the app is friendly to use.

                Pick up Mealime here.

                  41. Cook Your Meals in Bulk

                  When you cook your meals in bulk, you will have plenty of leftovers. This can avoid having to cook everyday.

                  Find out more about how to make cooking in bulk works: Once a Month Cooking: Productivity Hack or Overrated Time Suck?

                  42. Protect Yourself from Unnecessary Phone Time with Caller ID

                  The minutes you spend on picking up unnecessary phone calls are time wasted. You can prevent that from happening.

                  Check out this detailed guide how you can deal with those unnecessary phone calls: How To Lose the Useless Items that Weigh Down Your Day – Cellphone Calls

                  43. Take Shorter Showers

                  This one may sound silly but it’s actually something I struggle with. I spend up to 30 minutes in the shower. Think of the time I could save simply by speeding up a bit.

                  44. Save the Trips to Bank by Taking Direct Deposit

                  Many employers now offer direct deposit. If yours does, then be sure and take advantage of it and save yourself from a number of trips to the bank.

                  45. Auto Pay Your Bills

                  How many times have you been worried about whether you missed the bills deadline?

                  Auto paying your bills will save you time and eliminate late fees and increased interest rates.

                  46. Shop Online

                  Whenever possible, avoid going to the store. When you shop online, you can be more focus about what you’re getting.

                  47. Speed up your Internet with a broadband connection.

                  Many people are aware of the slow speed of internet but aren’t doing anything about it. In fact, this is the number one Internet time-saver!

                  If you must use dial-up, then you can use accelerators like Propel and SlipStream to double or even triple your speed.

                  48. Keep up the Speed of Your Computer

                  If you’re a Windows user, use Windows hibernation feature to avoid the slowdown of exiting and restarting Windows.

                  Or maybe, consider switching to Mac as there’re plenty of Advantages You Probably Don’t Know About Switching To Mac From PC.

                  49. Turn off the TV.

                  The average American watches more than 4 hours of television every day. Over a 65-year life, that’s 9 years glued to the tube.

                  For better health and productivity, turn off the TV. Here’re 11 more reasons to tell you to stop watching TV so often.

                  Turn off the TV and you are sure to get more out of life.

                  50. Use a Tivo or DVR.

                  This can help you cut an hour-long television show down to just 40 minutes. You can save time while not missing the fun.

                  So, here’s the ultimate list of techniques you should learn to boost productivity. Pick the techniques that work for you and make them your daily habits. As time goes, you’ll find yourself being a lot more productive.

                  More Time Management Tips

                  Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

                  Reference

                  [1] Medical News Today: What is biphasic and polyphasic sleep?

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