Mind mapping software allows you access to your notes and data in a way that’s much more acceptable to your brain than conventional methods. The brain itself is an organic structure, and with its billowing shape it almost looks as though it’s slowly exploding with thoughts and reasoning. As the brain has developed over countless generations, it’s grown enormously, and the brain tissue of the cerbral cortex has developed a ridged appearance to allow it to fit inside the confines of the skull.
Our thinking patterns are organic as well; a thought arises and other thoughts spring out from it, as if in different, unrelated directions. Mind mapping mirrors this, showing thoughts and ideas connected to a central idea, and with thoughts spreading in an organic fashion, like leaves on a tree. This is why daydreaming is a useful and indeed valuable use of your time. Contrary to the old school teachers’ view that daydreaming is a pointless waste of time, it actually gives the brain the freedom it needs to allow thoughts to develop and spread. A too logical approach to anything can never fully do it justice; it’s necessary to step back sometimes and get an overall view, and allow your mind to see where your thoughts are leading you. If you don’t take the time to see the big picture, you’re risking only getting a partial and disjointed view of the subject.
It really is necessary to take a step back and let your thoughts wander wherever they lead, while watching from the sidelines to see the result. Mind mapping helps in this regard, since it lets you put down your thoughts and ideas, or the component parts of a subject, in such a way that you can see it all at once and take it all in. When you have this visual representation of the situation, you’re better able to understand it fully, and develop it further.
Here are a few mind mapping programs that you might like to try. They all share the basic mind mapping ideas (a central idea, branching ideas spreading out, etc), but they all have their individual ‘personalities’. There might be one amongst them that suits you particularly well. Some of them are free software, while others have a free version and a paid for version. Even if you might want to use the paid for version, you can download the free one first to test it out and get the hang of it.
FreeMind – mind mapping software … free!
FreeMind is free, open source software that gets rave reviews from its users. I haven’t personally used it, but here’s a taste of what others have said about it:
Akwak: You made my life infinitely better. Everything is so much clearer now.
Joe: I downloaded Freemind several months ago and it has become a vital part
of my daily activites. I am enormously grateful for the program.
Perry: I have been using FreeMind for two or three months now, and find it totally indispensable! I simply can’t say enough good things about how it has helped me get on top of an overwhelming workload. I’ve tried task managers and project managers ad-nauseam, and they are either too simplistic or too cumbersome.
Jose: This is a wonderful software I’d like to be using my next 20 years … so…
Is there any way of helping you to afford the project?
Thanx in advance and sorry for my English …
wwbread: Thank you so much for this talented software!
This could be the most useful study software I’ve ever used!
After reading these (and many more) comments, I think I’ll be downloading a copy of FreeMind myself!
iMindMap – Tony Buzan’s mind mapping software
iMindMap is the only mind mapping software that can claim to be developed by Tony Buzan, the inventor of mind mapping. As you’d imagine, it’s a feature-packed program that makes full use of his ideas and technologies.
For a quick rundown of the software, here’s the blurb from the iMindMap site:
Using an intuitive workspace, a radiant, unrestrictive structure and lots
of visual stimulation, iMindMap is the perfect tool for all thinking tasks.
Brainstorming, taking notes, planning & organising, studying, managing tasks
and even delivering presentations (in 3D!); you can do it all simply, quickly
and in one place, with iMindMap Mind Mapping software.
iMindMap comes in three flavours – Basic, Home & Student, and Ultimate. The Basic version is free to download and use, and the other two are paid for versions with extra functionality.
Here’s what people are saying about iMindMap:
Read a really in-depth review of iMindMap to get a thorough feel for the program.
MindGenius – mind mapping software for businesses
MindGenius offers you a 30-day free trial, and is used by businesses such as Speedo, Konica Minolta and Accenture. Reading this, from their home page, emphasises that this is specifically designed for business use, so if you’re a business person, it might be just what you need:
MindGenius uses different map layouts depending on the task:
- Traditional organic Mind Map view
- Output tree for presentations, and brainstorming
- Organogram to create organisation charts
- Affinity diagrams for grouping information post brainstorming
- Input tree for cause and effect analysis
- Outline to preview documents prior to export
- and more …
MindMeister is an online collaborative mind mapping solution, and allows you to share any map by email or by a unique and secure direct link. Changes made by any users are seen by all parties within seconds. Strong data encryption ensures your maps, and all that’s in them, stay private. Check out the video below for more information.
This is software squarely aimed at the student. Exam Time involves more than just mind maps (there’s also flash cards, goal setting, quizzes, revision, practice papers, etc), but Exam Time mind maps are well worth checking out for starters.
Exam Time say their aim is simple – they want to change the way you learn … they want to make sure you fully engage with your subject, understand it better, and go beyond your perceived limits.
Check out this short video introducing Exam Time mind maps:
XMind is “the world’s coolest mind mapping software, the best way to brainstorm, the most efficient solution for saving your time, and powering your company” … oh, okay, that’s from their website so it may be a little bit biased! But it does seem to be a very comprehensive program.
There’s a Plus and a Pro version, but the most interesting (for most of us!) is that there’s a free version too. It doesn’t have everything (obviously, otherwise why would anyone ever buy the other versions!) but it does have the main features, including the option to share your maps on the Web.
Check out the short video below if you’d like to see more.
TheBrain has been a favourite of mine for quite some time. I love the 3D effects and the way the mind maps can change perspective and let you zoom in effortlessly on specific portions of the map. To say it’s a ‘cool app’ is a gross understatement.
The website says “Get the Ultimate Digital Memory”, and I don’t think that’s an exaggeration.
As the website also says, “There’s a lot of connections in your head, but unfortunately sometimes they don’t last. With TheBrain, your digital Brain captures all that intelligence for playback just when you need it.”
What do people think of it? Here’s a comment below the YouTube video:
Check out the video (which, for my money, is the best of the bunch!):
There are many more mind mapping programs available on the Web. This is a rundown of a few of the better ones. Try some of them out. If one of them strikes you as particularly suitable, stick with it; it will change the way you store information, and hopefully help clarify your thinking.
>> Software links in the sidebar >>