Mind Mapping Software

A Hand Drwn Mind MapMy friend Allen came by the office today to check out the new video equipment we have recently purchased. After a while we got to talking about the book I’ve been reading called Refuse to Choose!. I recently wrote an article on how this book has inspired me. Seems he’s a bit of a Scanner himself.

One of the things I mentioned to him was a mind mapping program that I like to use called Freemind. When Allen outlines an idea, he already uses mind mapping techniques with paper and pencil, so he was excited to discover a free software package that does the same thing.

If you are not familiar with the concept of mind mapping, basically it is a visually oriented way of showing the relationships between things.

Using Mind Maps

The Mind Map Book : How to Use Radiant Thinking to Maximize Your Brain\'s Untapped PotentialOne of my favorite ways to use mind mapping (especially with Freemind) is for brainstorming website and book ideas.

I start with a central idea or topic and then keep branching off that until I’ve exhausted my thinking on the subject. This will usually inspire some new research after which I go back to the mind map and expand it some more.

With Freemind you can expand and collapse the different branches of your map and quickly add new branches and expand branches. Some people will prefer to draw their maps with colored pencils on big sheets of paper including lots of little illustrations peppered throughout. Use whatever works for you.

You can export a mind map from Freemind into an HTML file. This outline style list can be used as the table of contents for a book or as the site structure for a website. There are other formats you can export to as well.

If you want to get the same result from a hand drawn mind map you will need to type up the text in outline format. Branches and sub-branches get indented further at each level. (Automating this process is one of the big reasons I love the software.)

You can embed all of the content for a book or website into the electronic version, but I find the tool most helpful in brainstorming the framework for an idea and then using other tools to flesh it out.

There are also a number of free web based mind mapping tools available. One that looks promising can be found at www.Bubbl.us.

Tools like Microsoft Project use indented lists to organize steps in a process. Creating a mind map is a great way to lead a team through the first stages of project planning with the results being quickly imported into the Project Management software for further development of the Project Plan.

I’m sure there are tons of other uses for a mind map. If you’ve got a cool and creative way of using them, leave a comment and let me know what you do.

The Go-To Guy

Andrew Seltz

Andrew was born in Michigan, raised there and in Tennessee, and has since lived outside Orlando, in Chicago, New York City, and now Birmingham, Alabama. He produces videos and websites for a living and is married to a beautiful, generous, loving woman who also happens to be a talented actress and writer - www.ellenseltz.com. They have two daughters.

One thought on “Mind Mapping Software

  • June 6, 2006 at 7:05 pm

    Very interesting post. I think I’ll run out and buy the book. It reminds me of a creativity book I bought a few years back.


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