I’ll be honest with you. Thinking for thinking’s sake can be tiring. It doesn’t get the respect it deserves. I do a lot of it and it can be exhausting. Being an entrepreneur and small business owner requires a lot of thinking, idea generation, planning, and dreaming. At least it better! And it can all feel really unstructured. When it comes time for serious brainstorming, I start mindmapping.

A mindmap is a visual representation of all those thoughts. It helps you take a big concept and break it down into action steps. It inspires new ideas and leads. As I develop our new “how to” site (you can look but it isn’t ready yet!), I’ve used it heavily to break down all of this information stored in my noggin into bite-sized, answerable questions.

You can certainly do mindmapping the old school, analog way with pencil and paper. In fact, do a search on flickr of “mindmaps” and you’ll see some really cool ones! But I use Xmind, a free open source software that you download. There are several advantages of a digital version of mindmapping. You can store it on your computer, you can email it to collaborators, you can use it to build a task list, you can add hyper-links, you are less likely to lose it and so on.

If you are stuck with too many options on a problem, or you are simply trying to brainstorm new ideas, a mindmap is a tested way to go.


by Steven Schlagel