For most people who have big plans and big ideas, the biggest trick is simply getting started. In many cases, their ideas might be so big that they are overwhelming, to the point of never getting off the ground.
One of the obvious ways to get started is to begin setting goals, taking notes and creating lists. Simply using pen and paper, one can begin taking the first steps to bring their ideas from the ether of the mind, into the tangible realm of real world action.
But note taking alone can be dry and dull, and many a note pad has been cast aside and forgotten, left to collect dust or merely tossed in the trash.
The reason for this is simple. The human brain does not naturally create or think about new ideas in the form of lists or outlines. Instead, the human mind is visual and intuitive. When we day dream or brainstorm, our minds intuitively connect different ideas, words, themes, concepts, images and more, often revealing otherwise hidden connections or powerful solutions.
For this purpose, set aside the idea of robotic list making and note taking, and let’s take a look at MIND MAPPING.
What is a Mind Map?
Mind mapping is a method of organically brainstorming in a way that simultaneously taps into both the left and right hemispheres of the brain, or the more analytical and logical side, vs the more intuitive and creative side, respectively.
This approach doesn’t immediately get caught up on following a particular structure, although it can gradually be organized in a number of ways. A typical mind map begins with one central idea or concept, then leverages the brain’s natural capacity to freely associate other words, topics, themes, concepts, etc. Taking a more graphical approach than an otherwise uninspiring list, these ideas are linked, or branched off, from the main idea. Each linked idea may have its own branches of ideas or sub categories.
The result is a more intuitive visual diagram, often resembling something akin to a family tree. Once a core concept or idea has been fully mind mapped, you can zoom out and begin to see the bigger picture, allowing for deeper analysis, review, or presentation. In many cases, the visual nature of mind mapping can even help with learning and memory recall regarding whatever central topic is at hand.
How is a Mind Map Organized?
As an oversimplified example, think of organizing something like a grocery list. Typically you might just take out a small notepad and go through your fridge and your cabinets to see what you’re running short of. But for demonstration purposes, let’s look at organizing it as a mind map.
We start with the central idea of “Groceries”. From here you could begin to categorize things however you see fit, but for the sake of this example we’ll branch this out into 4 main categories: Food, Kitchen, Bathroom, and Cleaning Supplies.
Food, for instance, could be branched out to further sub categories such as Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner (or perhaps you could break it into food groups such as Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, Dairy, Proteins, etc). Kitchen could be things like condiments, coffee supplies, and trash bags. The Bathroom category could have obvious items like toilet paper, hand soap, bath soap and shampoo, as well as more complex subcategories like Dental which would have sub items like tooth paste, floss, mouth wash, etc.
Under a category like Cleaning Supplies, this could cover such a variety of items that may have relationships to both Kitchen and Bathroom supplies. In a mind map we can always draw relationship lines between categories or items we feel are connected in some additional way, while not losing the visual organization we are creating.
Who Should Use Mind Mapping?
Beyond a silly example like mapping a grocery list (highly unlikely), virtually anyone in any field can make use of mind mapping for more serious tasks.
- Students at just about any level of any given subject can use mind maps as a both a note taking tool, and as a way to study and understand topics more deeply.
- People in creative fields such as writing, music, and audio/video production will likely find mind mapping to be an effective tool to organize the complex, multi-layered contents of their work such as outlining chapters of a book, organizing multi-track audio, or sorting out video resources and assets. Mind mapping can even help creatives break through the all too common mental blocks, and streamline their work in exciting new ways.
- Business owners, entrepreneurs, software developers, project managers and more can use mind maps to more effectively organize and even present their concepts to colleagues, clients, or investors.
For example, an entrepreneur with an idea for a new business could start with their business name as the central topic. From here they could branch out to the fundamental aspects of the business, starting with Products/Services as one topic, or perhaps separate topics. Under this they could begin to list their main products, and even break out further into add-on products or services. Marketing could be added as another topic, branching out to include their social media and/or traditional media efforts. They could also add Sales as another topic, which could have a direct relationship line to Marketing. Then they would probably want to add something like Administration as yet another topic. We can quickly begin to see an overall strategy emerging from a business oriented mind map such as this, and it can easily be updated and expanded to whatever extent we want.
Mind Mapping Software
There are literally dozens of mind mapping software options on the market today. Some are more traditional standalone programs with either lifetime license options or a subscription based option. Pricing varies widely from one to the next, but a bigger concern might be which platforms they are available on. Most offer Mac and PC versions, while some only offer one or the other. The best will offer options for both Mac and PC, as well as Linux. and possibly even iOS and Android mobile options. One thing to watch out for however, more and more software (not just mind mapping, but in general) are emerging as strictly web based subscription models.
Among the more notable options available today are products like MindNode, MindManager, LucidChart, and MindGenius, among many others. In our opinion however, the absolute most well rounded option can be found in XMind, available at xmind.net. This industry leader has been one of the most popular and powerful options for well over a decade, offering Mac, PC, Linux, iOS, and Android options, plus a web based option. On top of that, the FREE versions of Xmind are not just limited trials, but can essentially be used forever, making this an obvious choice for beginners or casual/occasional users.
XMind 8 is the more traditional version of the software, particularly ideal for professional desktop and laptop users. XMind 2020 on the other hand is the newest cross platform app version that is perfectly suited for going back and forth from desktop or laptop, to tablets and larger smart phones. The free versions are an excellent way for anyone to get started with mind mapping, no matter your experience. For professionals who are ready to get serious about their mind maps, organizational charts and presentations, the paid versions are priced very affordably, and open up the full features such as attaching audio and video files, importing from other popular mind mapping software, exporting to Word, PDF, and multiple other formats, and much more.
ConclusionWhether you are trying to sort out a new idea, plan a new project, outline a new story, or organize your business structure, unlocking the power of mind mapping is a true game changer. Get started with Xmind today by visiting Xmind.net.
To learn more about using XMind, check out our video overview below. Mind mapping and the various ways to use Xmind 2020 will no doubt be a recurring topic here. For more videos like this, be sure to subscribe to Mid City Digital on YouTube, Minds, BitChute, Brighteon, and Odysee — drop a comment on whichever platform you prefer, and let us know your thoughts on mind mapping!