#iPadOnly book » Section 3 - There's an app for that! » Chapter 22 - Mind Mapping

Chapter 22 - Mind Mapping

Brainstorming and planning on the iPad is more visual and immersive.

Mind Mapping is a non-linear way of brainstorming that allows you to attach related items to each other even if they’re not in a logical sequence. It’s a very visual tool for planning and seeing your goals. We both use mind mapping a lot.

Michael started mind-mapping in college:

“I love mind-mapping. It started in college when I had to write my Master Thesis - I didn’t know how to approach it, an outline felt too ‘limiting’. Then I heard about mind-mapping. So I started drawing my first mind maps. Finally, when I got the hang of it, I drew a large mind-map of my entire thesis on my dorm-room wall. While drawing mind-maps on paper is fun, it’s even more fun on the iPad.”

Michael uses iThoughtsHD:

“This is the app I use for my mind-mapping needs. I use Mind Maps to brainstorm ideas and most importantly to write down my goals for the weeks and months to come.

I prefer to have my projects and tasks in my task-manager of choice (Nozbe) - this is where the real, actionable stuff is. The more abstract stuff like goal planning and new project brainstorming happens in the mind-maps.

I love iThoughtsHD because it’s a very mature and versatile application and syncs with Dropbox. The files that it saves in Dropbox are compatible with many desktop clients (like Xmind, Freemind and other apps) so I can easily access my mind-maps on my Mac if I need to.”

Augusto uses MindJet Mind Manager:

“I have been mind-mapping for at least ten years. I discovered mind-mapping as a useful tool when I was doing my MBA in 2001. One of my friends was a fanatic mind-mapper so as a geek I spent hours looking for software to handle the task. The truth is I can’t read my own handwriting!

I discovered Mindjet MindManager and participated in the beta testing of MindManager 7 and 8 for Mac and PC. I have been a customer ever since. When they released the version for the iPad, I jumped onboard and have never looked back.

I like MindManager to visualize hard concepts and solve complex problems. Once I have found the invisible connections I then move to a regular outline to work.”

Visual Maps and Vision Goals with Mind Mapping software

The other thing we use Mind Mapping software for is to work with ‘visual maps’ or create ‘vision boards’.

Augusto loves creating his ‘vision boards’:

I don’t remember when I made my first visual map, but I have made many over the years. I love to create images of the things I dream of accomplishing and to do that I create vision boards. I am not a very artistic person so I really enjoy the fact that I don’t need to use scissors or glue - just copy and paste. Also, since they are for private consumption, I can google and find images on the web and pull in any that I think will be appropriate.

In some instances where I want to think and use a bigger screen, I use the iPad in conjunction with the Apple TV and the mirroring function. It is absolutely amazing to have the iPad in your lap and work with it on the big screen while you are mind-mapping.”


Sometimes what we need is not a mind-map but something even less linear, like a flow chart. For instance, when we needed to design new workflows for the iPad, we wanted an app for just that. Grafio is amazing. It’s very natural, very easy to use and very touch-friendly; perfect for the iPad. We draw all of the workflows there and later export them to Evernote via email.

When Michael discovered this app, he never looked back:

“I initially started using it for my personal workflows but later started designing all of my business workflows there as well. It’s the type of app that really captures the essence of working on the iPad. Drawing diagrams with it feels natural - like drawing on paper… but the app corrects you and makes sure your shapes and arrows are beautiful and flexible.

Yes, flexible. You can edit and move objects and arrows attached to them anywhere you want, draw new ones, and so on. Before I discovered Grafio I used to draw my diagrams in a drawing app on the iPad like Paper… but it was just like drawing on a piece of paper - once something is drawn, it was hard to edit it and move around. You’d have to erase it and draw again. With Grafio, I get the beauty of drawing and the natural feeling that comes with it along with the flexibility of a vector drawing app and the versatility of the iPad.”

Augusto fell in love with Grafio as well:

“Grafio is one of the really cool things I learned while writing this book. When Michael shared this application with me, I immediately started drawing diagrams and creating workflows. The application helps you think and visualize problems in an easy, quick and intuitive way. I am not in any way an expert on this application, but it is an app that I am enjoying and learning more and more about every day.”

Touch and solve your problems!

OK, it sounds a little corny, but we have discovered that using apps for mind-mapping and workflow design on the iPad really helps solve bigger problems and brainstorm new ideas. The feeling of moving things around with fingers, zooming, swiping and tapping makes everything ‘more real’ and the apps we mentioned in this chapter make the whole process fun and natural.

Next Chapter: Chapter 23 - Learning

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