Here’s an excerpt from my new e-book, entitled Mind Mapping Software: How to Select the Perfect Program for Your Needs. This segment is taken from the FAQs section of the book. I hope you enjoy it! Sorry if it seems a bit basic, but I DO believe that this blog is being read by many people who are NOT mind mapping experts. For more information about this brand-new e-book, please click here.
Q: I’m busy, and don’t have a lot of time to invest in learning new programs. How hard is it to learn to use mind mapping software?
A: Most of the mind mapping programs that I have evaluated are incredibly easy to use. Creating a new map and adding branches and sub-branches to it is a skill that can be mastered in only a few minutes. Other, more advanced features may take a little more time to learn. But the point is, you can become remarkably proficient with most mind mapping programs in a very short period of time.
Q: How does mind mapping software compare to concept mapping software?
A: The two styles of visual mapping are somewhat similar, because they both utilize keywords connected by symbols. But there are some major differences: Mind maps are radial diagrams, with one topic in the center of the diagram, where as concept maps may resemble more of a process flowchart. They are meant to emphasize relationships versus ideas. Also, concept maps tend to have descriptive words embedded in the link lines that connect keywords, which provides added meaning and context.
Q: How closely do software produced mind maps adhere to the mind mapping guidelines of Tony Buzan?
A: Tony Buzan, the inventor of the mind mapping technique, believes that hand-drawn visual maps should be highly individual creations that reflect their author’s unique thinking style. They should be colorful and should contain drawings and doodles that add meaning and context, as well as draw upon the visual capabilities of the right side of the brain.
Mind mapping software can duplicate many of these capabilities, including colored branches and text, background colors and images, text fonts and styles, and colorful symbols and icons. Many mind mapping programs also enable you to import images anywhere in your map, helping them to further individualize them. Two programs, HeadCase and iMindMap, adhere very closely to Tony Buzan’s mind mapping technique, complete with organically curved connector lines, highly stylized, colorful text and the ability to add images and symbols to your maps.
Q: Do I need any special graphic design training to create visual maps with mind mapping software?
A: No, you don’t. Most mind mapping software is well-designed; you can become proficient at adding branches and keywords to your maps within a matter of minutes. No special knowledge is required, except a willingness to think in a non-linear fashion. In fact, several of the leading mind mapping software programs have a "brainstorming" mode that enables you to quickly capture your ideas, without getting in the way of the flow of your thinking.
Q: Why is it advantageous to link files, web pages, e-mails and other information into your mind map?
A: Most business people have had the experience of searching through drives and folders, trying to find a particular file on their computer or office network. Multiply that by the number of times you utilize that file during the course of a project, and you have a huge waste of time. Linking files to your maps effectively creates shortcuts to them, ensuring that they are never more then a click away. Linking of e-mails into maps is a fairly recent development, pioneered by Mindjet in its MindManager program. Considering the amount of information and knowledge that is contained within the e-mail messages, this is an important development! In summary, incorporating links into your maps gives you fingertip access to all of the supporting information you need to manage your projects and priorities.
Q: How can software-produced mind maps save me time in my work?
A: Today’s knowledge workers are overwhelmed by a constant barrage of e-mails, voice mails, telephone calls, meetings and excessive workloads. This makes it nearly impossible for them to think clearly and critically about the projects they must accomplish, the resources required and other elements of the typical business project. A growing number of executives are finding that mind mapping software is indispensable to succeed in this crazy, fast-paced environment. This type of software helps executives to clearly map out projects and priorities, solve problems creatively, distill information for reports more quickly, make decisions more effectively and a host of other benefits.
According to a recent survey conducted by the Mind Mapping Software Blog and InnovationTools.com, users of mind mapping software said that it increases their productivity by an average of 20 percent.