There are all kinds of ways to organize information, get ideas down, and plan. But when it comes to initial brainstorming sessions, mind maps are a tried and tested means to have ideas take root, evolve, and grow in an efficient and organized manner.
What is a Mind Map Used For?
A mind map is a simple way to brainstorm and organize ideas without the limitations of a specific structure or order, while simultaneously providing a visual structure for further analysis and organization. A mind map is essentially just a diagram that represents ideas (which may be broad concepts, tasks, items, words, or more) that are all linked to and arranged visually around a central idea or topic.
Such diagrams are useful in moving beyond lists of structured headings and words. The relationships between ideas can be plotted, and further branches can quickly be added when something new strikes you about a particular concept.
At least, that’s the theory. The reality is mind maps are too often a messy, tricky thing to create – that is, unless you have the best mind mapping app on hand.
Paper Chase: The Drawback of Traditional Mind Maps
In traditional media, there are two common ways to create a mind map: paper, and notes on walls. When using paper, a major problem is immediately apparent the second you want to change anything: doing so requires starting afresh or making a big mess.
When creating mind maps with sticky notes on a wall, evolution of ideas is simpler, because you can move the notes – at least until they stop being sticky. But branches and relationships aren’t always obvious. This method is nonetheless a good bet when working as a team in a boardroom, where you want everyone to pitch in. But when you’re done with your version one, someone snapping a photo of a wall and a load of notes doesn’t result in a useful nor an editable document.
This is where MindNode comes in, arguably the best mind mapping app for iOS and Mac. This full-fledged mind mapping tool speeds things along in key ways, and provides creative and organizational tools that bring clarity, class, and control to your living mind map documents.
Quick Thinking: The Value of a Mind Mapping App
Start with a blank canvas, and you will immediately notice MindNode feels like a digital take on conventional mind map creation. You begin with your central thought, and work outward from there, adding new branches as ideas come to you.
Mind Mapping Apps Provide the Freedom to Update and Organize Ideas
The advantages of using software quickly become clear. There’s a wide range of style options – and these aren’t just about aesthetics. In making specific text bold or larger, it becomes more prominent, making it easy to prioritize or bring attention to an idea that warrants further attention. Coloring branches can be used for the categorization of ideas, as it draws the eye toward related groups of ideas and sub-strands.
These clean and simple styling options provide a visually distinct organization to your mind map that is easily editable with the click of a button rather than the traditional methods of manually erasing text or wasting paper on a new sticky note. This freedom makes your mind map a living, breathing document that grows naturally with the organic evolution of your ideas.
Images, Icons and Checklists Bring New Life to Your Mind Map
There are options for imagery. This might seem superfluous or unnecessary if you’re used to text-based diagrams. But icons enable viewers to quickly spot what sections are about, and can add context in the form of photos and simple charts. MindNode also supports adding checkboxes to items, transforming your mind map into a to-do list of sorts.
Automation: Mind Mapping Apps Organize Ideas in Seconds
Instead of tapping + to start a new map, prod the lighting bolt button. This loads a basic outline document. You then construct your thoughts as you would a generic bullet-point list, where you promote and demote lines as you see fit. When you’re done, tap Create Mind Map and – boom! – it’s done. Obviously, this method benefits more linear thinkers, and isn’t as tactile and pleasing as starting from that central thought and working from there. But when you’re on a train, waiting in a queue, or even just quickly brainstorming ideas, it’s a great way to get started.
Automation extends to mind-map layout. Themes can be applied with a single click or tap. Selected thoughts can have their branches switched between vertical and horizontal orientation, curvy or angular designs, or full manual control if you deem the software’s layout too rigid. All along, you can peruse an outline view, search your document, and output your map to a range of formats: MindNode’s own; FreeMind for other mind-mapping apps; OPML; PDF; flat image; text.
The Case for Going Digital with a Mind Mapping App
Unfortunately, even the best mind mapping app probably won’t solve all of your problems when it comes to organizing ideas. With that being said, a mind mapping app can certainly simplify your brainstorming process and help you jot your ideas down in a clean, efficient format that is easy to edit and built upon.
None of this negates using traditional mind maps when you feel the need, as there are plenty of scenarios in which a pen and paper may be more appropriate than going digital. Just because you have MindNode installed, that doesn’t mean you should avoid getting out markers and a massive sheet of paper, if that’s what initially helps you get ideas out of your head.
However, in having access to a digital option, you greatly enhance your capabilities in the mind mapping space. And when your livelihood rests on your ability to think up, consider, evolve, organize, and plan out amazing ideas, every little bit of help adds up when it comes to speed, layout, clarity, usability, and sharing your work.
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