There are lots of different ways to organize your thoughts and turn them into actionable steps. For example, if you want to expand your multitasking capabilities, there are all sorts of great productivity apps out there that should increase efficiency in that department.
But let’s say you can’t even get to that point yet. Maybe you’re stuck in a cycle of getting lost in a thicket of ideas, half-concepts, and free-floating words that emerge from your brainstorming sessions. If that sound familiar, you might want to consider a mind-mapping tool. Mind maps are digital flow charts that can be used to describe ideas and list possibilities.
In more advanced forms, they can also be used to describe complex structures and concepts so your entire team can better understand them. Here are the best mind-mapping software options available, their most impressive strengths, and how you can download them for your next big meeting!
Bloomfire ($9+ a month)
Bloomfire isn’t just a mind-mapping or brainstorming tool — it’s a suite for knowledge management. If you are part of a business that generates a lot of ideas and pushes them through multiple departments, then Bloomfire could be the platform you’re looking for.
It allows for multiple maps and charts to drive decisions — and then let’s you track the content that comes from those ideas and compare its success to other content. The software may not be able to replace data management entirely, but for a large creative team, it could be an ideal support.
MindMeister ($6+ a month)
MindMeister is a web-based mapping tool, and one of the best options if your team is utilizing multiple operating systems or is located in remotely.
The map works in real time, which makes it ideal for long-distance brainstorming, and the presentation functions allow you to display complex ideas in a natural way, which is great for strategy development. If you’re looking for more features, the software also works well with MeisterTask to create a workflow-oriented solution.
Do you and your team prefer iOS? iThoughts is an acclaimed tool for the iPhone and iPad (with Mac versions also available) that allows you to quickly create a mind map. While there are plenty of customizable attributes, including everything from icons and clipart to floating topics, the most valuable part of the tool is its robust compatibility with other software.
You can export maps to PowerPoint, Word, Excel, Dropbox, various PDF readers, and a dozen alternative mapping tools. There are even options for setting and assigning tasks, allowing you to get started on projects with ease. Overall, it’s one of the best mobile mapping solutions we’ve used.
IdeaFlip ($9 a month)
IdeaFlip takes a more novel approach to mind mapping, one that appeals to those looking for simplicity. The software revolves around Post-it-like shapes that you can take, place, and connect in a multitude of ways and styles. Each note can function as many different objects or as imported ideas from other platforms, so it’s a bit more versatile than you might expect.
The one problem is the pricing, which is a little higher than you’d expect. Still, if you love the interface, it may be worth the price of admission.