Freeplane|GTD

Freeplane|GTDOpen Source Plugin for Freeplane

Freeplane|GTD is an open source development project (GPL v.3) to create a Freeplane plugin for extracting GTD-style Next Action lists from a mind map. A Freeplane version 1.2.x add-on is available at SourceForge.

 

 

Overview

Like the previous project (FreeMind|GTD), Freeplane|GTD is a tool for implementing a GTD system with a mind map. The difference is that Freeplane|GTD is a plugin for Freeplane, so you can work off-line and locally. In addition to the previous simple node markup style for entering Next Actions, you can use Freeplane node attributes to capture context, owners, and due dates for Next Actions.

Getting Started

First, download and install Freeplane v1.2.x (see links at the end of this page). FreeMind users will have no trouble transitioning to Freeplane, since that’s where it started! After installing Freeplane:

  1. Download the add-on from SourceForge
  2. Using Freeplane 1.2.x, select Tools -> Add-ons
  3. Click the Search and Install tab then use the Search button to navigate to the downloaded add-on
  4. Click Install
  5. Restart Freeplane

You are now ready to create your GTD mind map

Creating a GTD Mind Map

The concept behind Freeplane|GTD is to use a mind map as ‘trusted system’ for holding the information needed to create your lists (Projects, Next Actions, Waiting-For, and Someday/Maybe) using an add-on. Because mind maps are both hierarchical and graphical, you can easily brainstorm and categorize Projects, Tasks, and Next Actions all in one place.

Here’s an example GTD mind map:

 

 

Example GTD mind map with shorthand notation

Example GTD mind map with shorthand notation

 

Settings

The above mind map shows several nodes that are marked as Projects or Next Actions using icons. Under the Settings node, you can indicate which icons you want to use to mark Projects and Next Actions. You can use any icons you prefer, they just have to match the ones used in Settings. Note that the text on the nodes is used by the add-on to identify the icon (ie, ‘Icon: Next action’ for Next Action and ‘Icon:Project’ for Projects), so it is important get these correct. If there is no marked Project node for a Next Action, its parent node is used as the Project- sometimes it is helpful to do this to focus on sub-projects.

In addition, you can specify an icon to mark Next Actions that are due Today. Under the Settings node, add a sub-node ‘Icon: Today’ with the icon you want to use to indicate Today as the due date. The Today icon can appear in any order on the Next Action nodes.

Next Actions

You can use the mind map to collect all the things that come to mind needed to complete a project (this is the brainstorming aspect). Some of these will depend on others and this is where the hierarchical nature of a mind map works well. A key idea from David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology is that you need to identify the very next thing you need to do to make progress- the Next Action. You can not work on everything at once (and shouldn’t try!), so go through the mind map and mark the priority items as Next Actions. Typically you should have 10-20 items identified as a reasonable list. Freeplane|GTD uses a Next Action icon to identify these in the mind map.

Next Action nodes can have optional attributes (Alt-F9 to edit) that can be used to indicate Context (where the next action will be done), Due Dates (when it needs to be done by), or who you’re waiting for to complete the action. If you are in a fast capture mode (brainstorming or in a meeting with others), you may find it quicker to use Freeplane|GTD’s simple markup to add a Next Action:

*<Next Action> @<Where> [<Who>] {<When>}

The entry must start with ‘*’ for the add-on to recognize it as a Next Action. The remaining attributes are optional and may be entered in any order:

*Pick up wood @store [Jim] {12-Dec}

*Pick up wood [Jim] @store {12-Dec}

*Pick up wood {12-Dec} @store [Jim]

*Pick up wood

can all be used. Freeplane|GTD will automatically convert Next Action shorthand notation, adding a Next Action icon and attributes for you after running as shown below:

 

GTD mind map after converting Next Action shorthand notation

GTD mind map after converting Next Action shorthand notation

 

If a due date (‘When’ attribute) is not set on a Next Action, the default ‘This Week’ is applied. The rationale is that Next Actions should get done soon, typically within the week. You can identify your key Next Actions to get completed today with a Today icon. Use the ‘When’ attribute (or {<due date} shorthand notation) to indicate any other due date (like Friday or 21-Dec).

Making Lists

Selecting Freeplane|GTD under the Tools menu will extract the Next Actions and display them several ways:

By Project

 

 

Next Actions from a GTD mind map

Next Actions from a GTD mind map

 

Note that the By Project tab also lists the total number of Next Actions (both yours and those that are delegated).

Next Actions are listed as hyperlinks back to the GTD mind map. Clicking on the Next Action will display the node centered on the map with its branch (and children) unfolded. All other nodes are folded except the first level nodes from the center of the map. This helps you to focus on this specific Next Action, it owner and any related items.

By Owner

Note that the By Who tab lists the number of Next Actions that are delegated to others. You typically do not use the ‘Who’ attribute for yourself, just for those that you have delegated a task. This then gives you a ‘Waiting For’ list.

Delegated Next Actions

Delegated Next Actions

By Context

 

 

Where Next Actions get done (ie, Context)

Where Next Actions get done (ie, Context)

 

 

The By Where tab shows where you expect the Next Actions to get completed, such as when you are working on email or running errands.

By Due Date

 

Due Dates

Due Dates

The By When tab shows any Next Actions that have a Due Date assigned. Next Actions marked as due today (Today icon) are always listed first- these are your key goals for the day. Next Actions that are due this week (the default) are listed next. Any Next Actions with specific due dates are listed next. Note that these are listed alphabetically (parsing of the many ways of writing a date has not been addressed yet!), so you may want to use a notation that sorts well like: 2021-01-15 or 01/15/12.

General

The bottom of the Freeplane|GTD window contains a few feature buttons:

  • Refresh- if you make a change to the GTD mind map, hit Refresh to update your lists
  • Print- this button will send the current tab to the printer
  • Copy- this button copies the current tab as plain text with indented items to the clipboard
  • Cancel- closes Freeplane|GTD

Summary

Hopefully you will find Freeplane|GTD a useful addition to Freeplane and your GTD methodology.  Your comments on features (or coding contributions) are appreciated!

Downloads