If you are like me, then you like systems and think visually.
Also, if you are like me, than you know how hard it is to keep track of all the different steps, ideas, and facets of your project if you hold everything in your head.
Hopefully, you’ve heard about mind mapping already. If not, it basically means creating a free-flowing chart that maps out ideas in a hierarchical fashion, allowing you to easily see what the main themes are and how ideas branch out of them.
A mindmamp can be created by hand, but I prefer using software, because it easily stretches the diagram to encompass the volume of my ideas, and it also lets me shuffle individual nodes around and tweak their location and hierarchy.
My software of choice is a popular tool called xmind, and is very versatile. First of all, it allows you to use keyboard shortcuts: such as TAB to create a “child” node, or Ctrl+L to draw a connection between to separate ideas. It also allows you to format individual nodes, add helpful icons, and group nodes into categories.
Very intuative and easy to to use, Xmind has a wide array of applications and allows you to organize your mindmap into different patterns. This means you can use it to create:
Here is an example of a mindmap I just created to keep track of the different topics I would like to cover in a book I’m considering writing.
Note how I am able to draw connections between different ideas, connections I would not be able to make or maintain if this was all happening in my head.
Mindmaping can also be applied to mobile devices. The interactive experience of actually touching the screen fits well with the visual aspect of the mindmap. My favorite tool is Simple Mind, whose simplistic interface makes it too simple for me to use on a PC but perfect for a mobile device.
I have found mindamping a valuable tool in keeping track of all my fragmented thoughts and find patterns and themes within different ideas. How about you? How do you keep your ideas in order? Let me know what you think in the comments below.
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