Advertising
Advertising

Free Your Mind with XMind

Free Your Mind with XMind

Free Your Mind with XMind

    Mind-mapping is a popular tool for brainstorming ideas, outlining projects, and organizing information. While some people feel most comfortable mind-mapping with pencils or pens and paper, others enjoy the ease and accessibility of software-based mind-mapping, and there are a variety of tools designed to help make, share, and store mind-maps on your computer. Some, like MindManager and iMindMap are powerful, enterprise-level programs, with price tags to match; free programs like FreeMind don’t have the same features, but for daily use by individuals, they are quite powerful and capable tools. There are even a range on online mind-mapping tools like bubbl.us and Mind42.

    My new favorite mind-mapping tool is XMind, a free, open-source mind-mapping program with a useful (though limited) online component. XMind is incredibly easy to use, allowing you to make and share good-looking mind-maps (and flowcharts, outlines, org charts, and other visual representations of textual data) with a minimum of fuss.

    Advertising

    Features

    XMind Logo

      XMind is a free download for Windows, Mac, or Linux computers. It is quite intuitive to use — for standard mind-maps, simply select a node, hit “Enter” to create a sibling node (one at the same “level”) or “Tab” to create a “child” node (one under whatever level you’re currently at). When you create a new node, just start typing to create a label, hit “Enter” when you’re done, and hit “Enter” or “Tab” to continue with a new node. If you want to edit or change the label on any node, just double-click it.

      A sidebar panel contains a hierarchical representation of your mind-map, for quick navigation, and below that formatting options to change both the appearance (font, colors, etc.) and the structure of your mind-map — you can switch “on-the-fly” from a standard bubble-map to an org-chart, fishbone chart, outline, or several other pre-configured layouts.

      Advertising

      XMind is drag-and-drop enabled, too, so you can move nodes around in relation to each other. A set of limited drawing tools allows you to create secondary connections between items, or group them together.

      Nodes take more than just labels. You can attach external files, embed images, insert hyperlinks, and attach notes, all from the right-click menu or the standard menu bars.

      Advertising

      20090223-xmind

        Exporting and Sharing

        Once your mind=map is done, you can export it in a number of formats: images (bmp, jpeg, gif, and png are all supported), HTML, or text are available, as well as XMind’s own formats.

        XMind also includes an online web-based component where you can post your mind-maps for public viewing and sharing. Users can download any of the mind-maps in the public repository and import them into their own install of XMind. You can also embed mind-maps into your website.

        Unfortunately, private sharing is unavailable in the free version; if you want to use XMind to collaborate on sensitive topics, you will need to use the Pro version.

        Advertising

        Pro features

        Other features lacking from XMind’s free version but available with a paid upgrade include new views — such as GANTT charts and a GTD todo item feature; a presentation view allowing users to show mind-maps in full-screen; the ability to record audio notes (useful for recording a lecture while mind-mapping your notes — notes are time-tied to the recording itself); and more export formats including PDF, Word, PowerPoint, and MindManager.

        The Pro version is not particularly affordable, unfortunately. In fact, the developers have chosen to license XMind Pro with a subscription model, which is quite unfortunate. To upgrade, expect to shell out $6.00 a month, or $49 a year. I realize that users are getting ongoing access to the web features, but I would much rather see a one-time fee for what is primarily a traditional, desktop-based piece of software.

        I’m also surprised to see that, with so many online mind-mapping apps out there, XMind has not make it possible to create, edit, and clone mind-maps using the online interface. The upload, share, download, and edit model now is hardly an effective way to collaborate — it would be easier just to email the files back and forth, and just as unsatisfactory. Hopefully XMind will continue to develop the online component to add true live collaboration in the near future.

        Conclusion

        Despite some small faults (which are really external to the program itself), XMind is a fine mind-mapping program. For individual users who don’t need to work collaboratively, XMind has all the features you should need, with a very low learning curve. It’s effective and even fun to use — and that’s key, because mind-mapping is all about transforming work into creative play in order to unleash your inner creativity. Longtime readers of this site know I have a somewhat conflicted relationship with mind-mapping, but with XMind, I was able to start producing really useful mind-maps in a matter of minutes.

        I highly recommend you try it out for yourself: XMind.

        More by this author

        Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide) The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain) The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

        Trending in Featured

        1 How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive 2 Simple Productivity: 10 Ways to Do More by Focusing on the Essentials 3 Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed 4 12 Rules for Self-Management 5 How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

        Read Next

        Advertising
        Advertising
        Advertising

        Last Updated on November 5, 2019

        How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

        How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

        Assuming the public school system didn’t crush your soul, learning is a great activity. It expands your viewpoint. It gives you new knowledge you can use to improve your life. It is important for your personal growth. Even if you discount the worldly benefits, the act of learning can be a source of enjoyment.

        “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” — Mark Twain

        But in a busy world, it can often be hard to fit in time to learn anything that isn’t essential. The only things learned are those that need to be. Everything beyond that is considered frivolous. Even those who do appreciate the practice of lifelong learning, can find it difficult to make the effort.

        Here are some tips for installing the habit of continuous learning:

        1. Always Have a Book

        It doesn’t matter if it takes you a year or a week to read a book. Always strive to have a book that you are reading through, and take it with you so you can read it when you have time.

        Just by shaving off a few minutes in-between activities in my day I can read about a book per week. That’s at least fifty each year.

        2. Keep a “To-Learn” List

        We all have to-do lists. These are the tasks we need to accomplish. Try to also have a “to-learn” list. On it you can write ideas for new areas of study.

        Advertising

        Maybe you would like to take up a new language, learn a skill or read the collective works of Shakespeare. Whatever motivates you, write it down.

        3. Get More Intellectual Friends

        Start spending more time with people who think. Not just people who are smart, but people who actually invest much of their time in learning new skills. Their habits will rub off on you.

        Even better, they will probably share some of their knowledge with you.

        4. Guided Thinking

        Albert Einstein once said,

        “Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”

        Simply studying the wisdom of others isn’t enough, you have to think through ideas yourself. Spend time journaling, meditating or contemplating over ideas you have learned.

        5. Put it Into Practice

        Skill based learning is useless if it isn’t applied. Reading a book on C++ isn’t the same thing as writing a program. Studying painting isn’t the same as picking up a brush.

        Advertising

        If your knowledge can be applied, put it into practice.

        In this information age, we’re all exposed to a lot of information, it’s important to re-learn how to learn so as to put the knowledge into practice.

        6. Teach Others

        You learn what you teach. If you have an outlet of communicating ideas to others, you are more likely to solidify that learning.

        Start a blog, mentor someone or even discuss ideas with a friend.

        7. Clean Your Input

        Some forms of learning are easy to digest, but often lack substance.

        I make a point of regularly cleaning out my feed reader for blogs I subscribe to. Great blogs can be a powerful source of new ideas. But every few months, I realize I’m collecting posts from blogs that I am simply skimming.

        Every few months, purify your input to save time and focus on what counts.

        Advertising

        8. Learn in Groups

        Lifelong learning doesn’t mean condemning yourself to a stack of dusty textbooks. Join organizations that teach skills.

        Workshops and group learning events can make educating yourself a fun, social experience.

        9. Unlearn Assumptions

        You can’t add water to a full cup. I always try to maintain a distance away from any idea. Too many convictions simply mean too few paths for new ideas.

        Actively seek out information that contradicts your worldview.

        Our minds can’t be trusted, but this is what we can do about it to be wiser.

        10. Find Jobs that Encourage Learning

        Pick a career that encourages continual learning. If you are in a job that doesn’t have much intellectual freedom, consider switching to one that does.

        Don’t spend forty hours of your week in a job that doesn’t challenge you.

        Advertising

        11. Start a Project

        Set out to do something you don’t know how. Forced learning in this way can be fun and challenging.

        If you don’t know anything about computers, try building one. If you consider yourself a horrible artist, try a painting.

        12. Follow Your Intuition

        Lifelong learning is like wandering through the wilderness. You can’t be sure what to expect and there isn’t always an end goal in mind.

        Letting your intuition guide you can make self-education more enjoyable. Most of our lives have been broken down to completely logical decisions, that making choices on a whim has been stamped out.

        13. The Morning Fifteen

        Productive people always wake up early. Use the first fifteen minutes of your morning as a period for education.

        If you find yourself too groggy, you might want to wait a short time. Just don’t put it off later in the day where urgent activities will push it out of the way.

        14. Reap the Rewards

        Learn information you can use. Understanding the basics of programming allows me to handle projects that other people would require outside help. Meeting a situation that makes use of your educational efforts can be a source of pride.

        15. Make Learning a Priority

        Few external forces are going to persuade you to learn. The desire has to come from within. Once you decide you want to make lifelong learning a habit, it is up to you to make it a priority in your life.

        More About Continuous Learning

        Featured photo credit: Paul Schafer via unsplash.com

        Read Next