MindNode to OmniOutliner to OmniFocus

I am a big fan of mind mapping.  Before I got my beloved iPad I had two white boards on my walls and also used my bathroom mirrors, windows, and patio doors to write ideas on.  It worked, but not well.

As I’ve written elsewhere I use MindNode It doesn’t do all the bells and whistles that some apps out there, but I don’t need my mind map to be able to place video and pictures and fancy shading and background music and brew a cup of coffee.  Okay, maybe the coffee.  But I need a mind map to be a mind map and to allow me to export it.  I sometimes use OmniGraffle for mind mapping… but it has a little different feel.  Sometimes I need a flowchart, sometimes I need branches.  Depending on the caffeine intake of the day.

Sometimes sitting down to OmniFocus to come up with a project and tasks is daunting.  While it is easier than writing because it is essentially in an outline form, sometimes outlines are not working for me.  So today I sat down with my iPad and cranked up my MindNode  and cranked out a basic overview of a project.  It became apparent as I moved things around that some things were  relying on others and I soon found that I had a couple of key ‘choke points’.  Looking at this visual representation I got a good idea of how my project was going to work.

But how to get this into my beloved OmniFocus?  Fortunately for me I have OmniFocus and OmniGraffle (as well as MindNode) on my iMac as well.  I’ve not been able to figure out how to do this only on the iPad, but it works on the iMac.

Here is my mindmap. (click to enlarge)


I didn’t spend any time in writing it out in standard task language (reserve rooms, submit report) etc… I just wanted to get the ideas down.

And just to show how I think differently in different programs, here is what I cooked up in OmniGrafflewhere here I was looking more at relationships instead of flows.

Then I exported the mindmap to myself in OPML format and emailed it to myself.  I could have also just saved it into my DropBox if I wanted to.

Back at my iMac I cranked open my desktop version of OmniOutliner and opened the file.  Then I selected each row so that they are all highlighted. This part seem crucial because when I just select a heading and/or do not have every row expanded, all of it did not export out.  So this is what it looks like in OmniOutliner when I selected every row.

Okay… easy peasy.  Then I hit CTRL-C to copy and then crank up my OmniFocus and hit CTRL-V to paste.  And what comes out is this:



And BAM!  There it is.  You’ll notice that it doesn’t have any contexts associated with it.  I could have added a column while it was in OmniOutliner to do this… but to me that is the same step that I’ve got to do here, so might as well wait to do it here than there.  I’m don’t think I’m losing out on any efficiency.  Also, to those who use GTD you’ll notice that it isn’t written in actionable steps… but again I just wanted to get it in here quick.  With it here I can do what I want but I have a better starting place than what I did earlier in less time.  And, remembering another post from the past, there is always exporting my OmniFocus out to MindNode via a great applescript that (thank you Robin Trew).  I wish that MindNode could do what iThoughts did and have each node link to the corresponding task OmniFocus, but again, I like the environment of MindNode that much more.  Plus I’m not sure how much, if at all, I’d use that function.  I might use it a TON, I might not.  I have both installed on my iPad… I’ll give it a shot and see.  The important thing is not to add more parts, faces, interfaces to something and increase its complexity, but to aid me in the capturing and creating of data where I can than act on them from their spots.

2 thoughts on “MindNode to OmniOutliner to OmniFocus

  1. Nice post. I am not able to test this at the moment, but I think you can shortcut your process a little bit.

    In OmniGraffle, export the mindmap as an OmniOutliner 3 document. You can then use the import function in OmniFocus to add all the tasks (including the nests) . Hope that helps

  2. I will test that out when I get around to buying OmniGraffle for the desktop. Right now I cannot export from OmniGraffle for iPad as an OmniOutliner document. That’d be really nifty, however.

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