Top 5 Tools I Use for Brainstorming
I wanted to share with you my top 5 favorite tools that I use for brainstorming, whether it is for work, for preparing my blogs for this site, or for the main website, CYTOPATHNET, or just for stuff in general. For some of you, you will find this helpful, and may learn about products that you haven’t used but might like to give a try. For others, you may not utilize any of these, or really don’t care…and that is fine too. But for those of you who may be interested in how to get your brainstorming ideas into a collection tool for use, please read on. Oh…and before I forget…please share your favorites if you don’t find them listed here, by submitting a quick comment to this blog post. My list of top 5 brainstorming tools is provided below, and are in order of preference, although, I must admit, this may fluctuate depending on my current needs and which seems to work better for me at the time. Where possible, I provide a link to any related brainstorming (mind mapping) software manufacturer in case you might want to try out a demo.
Brainstorming via Mind Mapping
I wanted to explain briefly that i interchange brainstorming with mind mapping, as I primarily use mind mapping as my brainstorming tool. Tony Buzan invented mind mapping in the 1970′s, and has been teaching the concept ever since. Most mind mapping software programs are off-shoots of that original concept. I like mind mapping for brainstorming because of its ease of use, ability to store concepts with key words or graphical images which trigger memories or discussions, portability, and its creative flare, more right brain vs left brain.
The Top 5
There is something about a moleskin notebook and a nice set of pens or pencils, and for those of you who are totally averse to technology, here is your answer! For those of you who also like to journal, these are great for that as well. I actually have different size moleskins, depending on what I need. For example, I use a pocket size one with an elastic band that I can slip in a pocket and take out and jot down ideas as they come up.
- including pen, pencil, colored, and gel highlighters.
- ideal for portability.
- these survive computer crashes!
- excellent tool for brainstorming on the go, and when the mood hits you
- great for journaling, sketching, project planning, mind mapping
- popular among artists and writers
- limitations are easily finding previously journaled items (ie. no search function)
This is my favorite software based tool. TheBrain® is perhaps the best mind mapping tool available…my opinion only, but having tried many different mind mapping programs, this one does the best job of actually creating a virtual mind map of your brain and how everything that you do ties in to everything else that you do. It truly can map out your entire life in one tool. In comparison to other MindMapping software tools, you are limited in seeing in one location how all things tie in to each other, so, to the best of my knowledge, this is the only software tool that I am aware of that does this. I LOVE THIS SOFTWARE! There is a bit of a learning curve on this one (and I am still learning), but the company provides nice tutorials. There is a new beta version for collaborative work called TEAMBRAIN™ as well. And here are some other great features:
- works with PC, MAC, or LINUX
- is portable…electronically via the cloud, can access from any device with a browser and internet connection, ie. iPhone, iPad, etc.
- automatically synchs up regardless of where you are accessing from, so always current and up to date.
- you can download a backup of your brain (LOL….sounds a bit strange, doesn’t it?)
- add URL links, notes, webpages, photos to your peripheral brain
- share with others, for open knowledge sharing (you can assignment permissions for access)
- collaboration via TEAMBRAIN™
- enterprise level BRAINEKP
- if you don’t like Cloud services, then this product isn’t for you
- no internet connection, NO BRAIN-ER…no access, a real down side for this program.
Freemind is another great tool which is java-based, and best of all, it is FREE. It is a popular open-source project that has been around for awhile. Although it isn’t updated that frequently, it is a fairly stable project, and performs very well. Most other types of mind mapping software are able to import maps from this program, and vice versa. Additional features about this program are:
- low risk to try out, because….IT’S FREE!
- can be used on MAC and PC, LINUX, and other OS’s
- easy to learn
- great for easy brainstorming
- export’s to other programs and to HTML and PDF
- no iPhone or iPad version
MindManager is a great product. but can be a bit pricey. This is the program I actually use routinely at work. It works well for meetings where you are discussing a new project, and are outlining the tasks at hand, or just thinking out of the box. You can quickly enter items into the mind map with the Brainstorming function and then move things around easily at your choosing. Many templates are available online to help you out with ideas, and export functions to html and pdf as well as to other mind mapping software tools.
- great product, especially for enterprise
- great for personal use as well, but a bit pricey
- variety of export functions which allow easy access
- brainstorming function
- quick note-taking and planning tool
- functions along with Microsoft Office and Sharepoint
- iPhone and iPad versions
For the purists out there, iMindMap is for you. This software is actually designed by the original inventor of Mind Mapping, Tony Buzan, and is available in a variety of formats for different OS’s. With a lot of movement towards the Cloud, iMindMap is also utilizing a portability concept which links into Cloud computing. I like this tool as it mimics very closely the original Mind Mapping concepts of Tony Buzan, which I use when mind mapping in my moleskins. This is also the tool that I used to create graphical portions of my prior blog posts on the USPSTF Cervical Cancer guideline revisions, posted here, and here.
- designed by original inventor of Mindmapping, Tony Buzan
- mobile, with access via the Cloud
- available in a variety of formats for mobile devices, ie. iPhone, iPad and Android
- can export and print out your maps
- another great tool for easy brainstorming
- works with Microsoft Office