Christian business owners need a way to map out ideas and have a visual reminder of processes. I want to introduce a free tool called Xmind.
Xmind is a mind mapping software. Mind mapping is visual way to represent ideas and concepts. You can think of it like a visual thinking tool. Just like your brain thinks of one idea, then branches to another idea and that idea sparks three more ideas, you can ‘map’ out an idea in a variety of ways.
What can I do with Xmind?
I love mind maps. They are an easy way to understand concepts. You can use them for meeting notes, book summaries, brain storming and word associations. You can use it for studying, goal setting, and problem solving. You can even use it for project management, product creation and organization charts.
Personally, I have used mind maps to layout training for people that I coach. I have used it for mapping out large projects. I have used it for teaching business ideas. I have used it to organize the various layers of my various businesses. It really helps to have a visual reminder of all the things you need to do or want to do.
How do I use Xmind?
This is a software that you download to your computer. It does have a free version, since it is open source, and they do have an upgraded pro version.
Once you download and register, both free, you will open the program to styles of mapping. You will see things that go around the central idea, some go below, and some go to the right or left. You will also see timelines, matrix columns, and a thing called a fishbone. Select the layout style that best suit your purpose visually. (Don’t worry if you choose the wrong one, you can change it later.)
Next you can choose a theme. These are colors and styles pre-programmed to give you a great way to display your information and make you look like a pro. Some are fun and some are more business style. Some even have bright colors and cloud shapes. Keep in mind the way you will display this information. If you are going to print it, you may want to stick to a white backgrounds. (Again, this can be changed later as well.)
You will then open a page that has a ‘central topic.’ This is the title of your mind map and the core idea that you want to represent. Click the box and type in your topic.
Hit enter and you will see a box show up around the central topic. This is a subtopic of the main topic. Each time you hit enter, you get a new topic surrounding the central topic.
Then, if you hit ‘tab’ on your computer you will see a subidea to the subtopic. You can have as many ‘branches’ as you want on any section of the mind map. You can even collapse them as you work through your ideas by clicking the circle with a – sign.
To the right you see a menu where you can change the colors, background, font style, font size, shape of each branch of the mind map, etc. On the top you will see a menu to add floating topics, comments, images*, icons*, and add ‘relationships.’ Relationships is when you draw an arrow from one part to another to show those ideas or concepts are connects.
*Some functions are pro functions that must be paid for.
The best way to use mind maps it to just get in and play with the program. Pick and idea that you have been thinking about. Put that idea in the center. Then, anything that pops in your mind, hit enter and type it. If that idea pops another idea, hit tab and type that idea. Hitting enter on any level keeps you in that level. Hitting tab takes you to the next level down. You can always see where you are by looking at the outline on the right hand panel at the top.
Mind mapping is a great way to communicate. I have seen entire books laid out on a mind map that captured the main ideas in an easy to digest format. I have also seen it for ideation, teaching and training. One person uses mind maps to do business training which he charges quite a bit for.
Mind maps can be addictive, but once you get the hang of it, you can map out ideas quickly. It is much more visual and much more interactive than a written document and may change the way you train your employees, educate customers or develop products. Give it a try today and take advantage of this free business tool called Xmind.
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