Mind mapping cartoon

One of the most well know methods of idea generation is probably mind mapping. I have to admit it is one of my first go to methods for generating ideas. I have used it extensively throughout my design career and also for personal projects.

Mind mapping can be used in a multitude of ways, but I think it is great for two things:

  1. It’s a great way to generate ideas through associating words and imagery to a main topic. Using this method you can also choose how much to allow yourself to deviate from your starting point
  2. A great tool for breaking down a topic or item. This is useful for organising things, for example if you were trying to break down a subject in order to teach it. This method of breaking down an item or topic can also be used in combination with other creative thinking techniques which I will go in to in future posts.

1. Mind Mapping to Generate Ideas

When I am mind mapping to generate ideas I prefer to do this loosely with pen and paper. For me this allows ideas to flow more quickly, but you can use an app if you prefer.

Start with a core word and from there branch out with associated words. Allow your words to wander off topic. You can always try and relate these ideas back to your starting point to get fresh thoughts and ideas. Keep branching off ideas until you have exhausted the topic or run out of paper. There are a few different things you can try to stimulate more ideas with this method that I will talk about in a future post.

2. Mind Mapping to Organise or Break Things Down


I tend to do the more organisational type of mind mapping using an app. This allows you to move around elements to rearrange them and is a big help if you have terrible handwriting like me.

Start with your core topic in the middle and then break this down. In my example I have quickly broken down possible areas I could could cover on this blog. Then take each of these and break them down further. Think of it like the hierarchy of a book which breaks down a topic into chapters and then within the chapters there are pages.

Mind Mapping App and Software

There are loads of options for Mind Mapping Software. Many of the online ones have a subscription charge, which is fine if you use them a lot, but I have put some free options below.

Mindmeister – Free on i0s and Android Apps, Paid online version

One of the most well know Mind Mapping Software is Mindmeister, it’s a free app on I0S and Android and I use it on my iPad. There is also an online version that you can use on Mac and PC, but it is a paid subscription or a limited free account with 3 free Mindmaps.
www.mindmeister.com

Simplemind – Free basic version Mac, PC, iOS, Android

Simplemind is available both in free and Pro Versions
I now use the free version of Simplemind on my Mac, and it is a good basic mind mapping tool.
www.simpleapps.eu

Freemind – Open Source Mac, PC, Linux

This isn’t a tool that I have personally used, but is well established.
www.freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page

You can find part two of this post at

4 Helpful Tools for Inspired Mind Mapping – part 2

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