Ever feel like you have a mountain of ideas, but struggle when it comes to putting them down in written form? Well, you’re not alone! Many people who try to recall an idea they had a while ago can find it difficult to jot it down in a useful form, transforming it from a torn note in a shoe box.If you’re yet to try it, I encourage you to create a mind map. If you’ve previously had a look at mind mapping, but felt overwhelmed with the buzz words surrounding it — semantic network, pictorial modeling, and so on — I empathize with you; however, the creation and execution of a mind map is nowhere near as complex as it sounds.This Wikipedia page will give you an insight into what a mind map is. If you’re a creative and a fan of note-taking, you’re likely to have already created a simple mind map without even realizing what it is!I find mind maps an invaluable part of the brainstorming and idea collation process. There are no archaic structures to follow — you just start writing. It’s also a versatile process. Sure, there’s software and tools, but you can be just as effective with a sheet of paper and pen. And there are no concrete rules, so if you return to one that you’ve previously created, there’s a good chance you’ll understand it in moments.I’m a fan of the notepad and pen, so I have plenty of scribbled mind maps written when I’ve been on a plane, or in a client waiting room. Yet the range of software out there does make mind maps much easier to edit, as well as share with others.Here are some mind mapping tools that I’ve used and would recommend:
- FreeMind — this is my favorite, and it’s free!
- Mindmeister — a web-based tool (with iPhone app) that I’ve previously used when sharing mind maps with clients.
- XMind — an open source, Java-based app that’s cross-platform and fairly sophisticated.
So why not give mind mapping a go? It may just help you sort that jumble of thoughts into a more meaningful and actionable idea.
If you want to read more from Miles, subscribe to our weekly web business newsletter, The SitePoint Tribune.
Image credit: imageshak