I’ve recently started using mind mapping software for managing ideas.
Mind maps are graphical representations of outlines. The advantage over a traditional outline is that you can connect related topics. It’s also easier for some visually oriented people to review.
Like I said, I use it plan ideas. I start with the idea name as the center node (topics are called nodes) and create nodes for tasks and concepts that will guide the project. The resulting mind map helps me figure out where to start work.
It’s also handy for brainstorming. The mind map becomes a record of ideas and questions. Later when I’m ready to develop the idea, it’s a clear representation of what I was thinking. To me, it’s clearer than traditional notes.
Here are some options that stand out:
- Think: This is a free Web app. Obviously the big benefit is that it’s free. Since it’s in the clouds you can access your maps (which are called thoughts here) from any computer and share them with other users. Which opens the possibilities of mind maps as a collaboration tool. Note that Think seems to work best with Safari and Chrome.
- MindManager: This is a desktop app that comes at a hefty price ($349 for Windows version and $249 for Mac version). It bills itself as a project management tool with collaboration and sharing features. It does offer a Web-based version called Catalyst ($11/month subscription).
- MindView: This is another expensive desktop app with Mac and Windows versions. It can work with your Microsoft Office apps. You can adjust the styles that change how your maps look. The result can be slick charts that will impress your clients.
- MindNode: This is my choice. There is a limited free version but MindNode Pro costs $24.95. There are only Mac and iPhone versions. It’s simple to use but doesn’t have the slick look of the expensive competitors. I can link to other mind maps, documents and web sites. It works well for me.
- Deadtree: Sorry, I made that up. But you can map just about everything you think with a sketch pad and collection of colored markers. I recommend fine point Sharpies. The paper versions of your mind map are very collaboration friendly and portable.
There are more mind map tools out there. Your mileage may vary with each. So take advantage of free and trial versions to see what works best for you.
Do you use mind maps in your business?
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