Mind mapping is a great way to add structure to brainstorming sessions and visualise your ideas. Check out the applications your fellow readers use to do their best brainstorming.
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For freelancers or anyone juggling multiple tasks—not necessarily multiple projects—Raj Dash at the FreelanceSwitch blog recommends using mind-mapping software to create a weekly organizational planner that can be crafted to fit your exact needs. In his case, that's a Sunday-to-Saturday diagram, with each day stacked with coloured tasks (green for billable work, pink for research for another task, etc.) and each day exported to a spreadsheet to total up the day's billables and work output. Raj's example is do-able with most mind-mapping (or design) programs, including the multi-platform, no-cost FreeMind, and makes what you're doing and what you've done a visual affair. Got your own task-scheduling map to share? Post it in the comments. Managing Multiple Freelance Gigs With Mind Maps
Windows/Mac OS X only: The robust mind mapping and brainstorming application from ConceptDraw—normally a whopping $US200—is free for a limited time. The app is packed with features, making it a great standalone, but it also plays nice with Microsoft Office apps. If our guide to mind mapping piqued your interest but you weren't keen on the tools we used, ConceptDraw's excellent solution is worth a download. I'm having a tough time determining whether this offer is for the both the Mac and Windows version or just one, but I'll update when I get to the bottom of it. Update: The free licence key works on both Windows and Mac versions of ConceptDraw MindMap, but there's a trick to it.
Windows/Mac/Linux: Cross-platform mind-mapping software PersonalBrain lays out your ideas with advanced features and slick animations. A few weeks ago Gina showed you how to boost your brainstorming session with MindMeister, a web-based mind-mapping tool, but if you'd prefer a desktop option and wouldn't mind a little eye candy thrown in, PersonalBrain is a nice alternative. PersonalBrain comes in several flavors, but the free edition covers most of your basic mind-mapping needs, with advanced features like file attachments available in paid versions (check the purchasing FAQ for a full rundown). PersonalBrain runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Thanks Laura!
Jotting a simple list is a great way to brainstorm, but when you want to visualise, organise, and untangle a deep set of ideas, you want a mind map. Web-based mind mapping tool MindMeister offers a simple interface to create mind maps collaboratively or on the go. We've mentioned a few mind mapping apps in the past, and showed you how to mind map meetings as an alternative to linear note-taking. But if you haven't tried mind mapping yet, MindMeister is a great place to start. Let's dive into MindMeister to give mind mapping a go without downloading a thing.
Previously mentioned web-based mind mapping tool MindMeister adds the ability to create and add to your maps via email. Enable your account's "Geistesblitz Email" in settings and save the unique email address to your contacts. Then, tap out an email list and denote subnodes by indenting lines with a space or a tab, as shown above. Send the email to your mind map address, and it magically appears in your account soon after. For example, the mind map produced by the email above looks like this: