Mind maps

One of the best ways to organize goals, projects and items is by creating mind maps. Mind maps allows you to build on a central idea and branch out as much as necessary for a step by step, detailed map of what you want to accomplish. MindMeister is an online mind map creation tool, available in both free and subscription plans.

What MindMeister Offers

Unlike many mind map applications, MindMeister allows you to store your mind maps online so you can access them from any computer at any time. You can even access them from the iPhone or iPad with MindMeister mobile application. If you do not want to log in to your MindMeister account, you can also download widgets that allows you to update your mind map from your desktop. Mind maps can be developed while online or off.

Plans

Personally, I recommend starting with a free plan. This allows you to get an idea of how mind maps work, especially if you’ve never used one. When you’re ready, you can upgrade your plan at any time. The free plan allows you to have up to 3 maps, which you can export, share and publish to blogs or websites. See MindMeister’s available plans for pricing and a full feature list. Paid plans start at $9 per month for businesses or $18 a year for academic use.

Creating Mind Maps

When you first create an account, you are set up with a default mind map. You can choose your default map from the My Maps tab. Use the arrow beside your map to choose whether to open, duplicate, delete or preview your map. Opening a mind map means opening a mind map design tool.

In the center is the topic for your mind map. Click any square or text area to edit the text for that branch. For instance, by default, the topic of your first mind map is My First Mind Map. If you want to create a mind map to manage your New Year’s resolutions, click the central square and type New Year’s Resolutions.

When you want to add a new branch, select the parent branch and press the Add button. Enter a name for the new box. Format any box by first selecting it. This places a dark blue line around the box. Select one of the menus to the right of your mind map, such as Format, Icons and Images or Extras to change how the box looks. With the Icons and Images menu, you can add small icons and images to your mind map to help describe a topic or simply add a little color and pizazz to an all text map.

As your mind map grows, you may need to use the scroll bars to view certain areas of your map. You can also use the zoom tools in the Navigator menu to view a close up or distance view of your map.

If you want to share your map or collaborate with a team, press the Share Map button at the bottom of the mind map. From this screen, you can invite other people to see your map. If you want your map to be public for anyone to view, but not edit, select the Publish section of the share menu. Select On to publish your mind map for the world to see.

When you’re finished editing your map, press the Close button at the top right of the screen. Your map is saved the moment you make a change.

Create a new mind map at any time by pressing New Mind Map.

MindMeister Tools

MindMeister offers several useful tools to make creating mind maps even easier. Work on your maps offline by using the Google Gears offline library. This allows you to slide a button and automatically sync your changes.

Add ideas to your map anytime by using Geistesblitz Tools. This allows you to insert ideas to your map from your Windows Sidebar, Mac Dashboard or Yahoo! Widgets Desktop without the need to open a browser window.

This feature is also available as a browser extension in both Internet Explorer and Firefox. You can then add ideas to your map through your browser’s search field. The same is true for SMS and email. You can send ideas straight to a personal Geistesblitz address from your phone as a text or email.

MindMeister is a great way to create mind maps to help keep you organized and on track with your goals and projects. With the online tools, there is no need to download software. If anything happens to your computer, your map is kept safe on MindMeister’s servers.

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