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Thursday, July 15, 2010

The joy of mind mapping

I was introduced to the concept of mind mapping by a work colleague several years ago and following this revelation, I discovered many applications and a couple online-based tools specifically designed to aid in the process of mapping your thoughts and ideas. For those unfamiliar with the concept of mind-mapping, it can be easily summarized as a method of diagramming ideas, concepts, tasks, thoughts or other items around some central topic, which allows the user to both visualize and classify information in new ways, often leading to increased insight and perception into the information. Great stuff for people with lots of things floating around "up there" (I think that I fit that description fairly well)!

Although traditionally, mind maps were hand-drawn, with some fantastic examples available online (one such example is provided below):

As beautiful and useful these maps can be, they can also be notoriously difficult to complete without careful planning (or a tolerance for imperfection, which honestly, wouldn't happen to someone willing to make a mind map). This is where a software solution comes in handy. As I am an Apple user at home, I tend to lean towards the applications that have Mac-specific offerings, although I have tested some of the Windows-only versions as well. Here is a list of the most popular ones:

As I mentioned earlier, there are also some online tools that can accomplish the same type of functionality (although most of the applications provide more options than their online counterparts!). Some of the more popular choices include:

If you have never tried mind-mapping or mind-mapping tools, give it a try and I am convinced that you will be hooked. It might just help you sort out your ideas and plans for that next big project.

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