Ever since I purchased my first Android phone, i have had a small but persistent obsession with productivity apps. I have so many ideas and thoughts flying around my head that to be able to easily and logically organise and review them is both useful and cathartic.
One of my favourite ways to do this is Thinking Space, a mind mapping app available for the Android platform.
You may or may not be aware of mind mapping; if you are, that's great, you already know the power of it. If not, then consider this your initiation! Mind mapping is by no means a new phenomenon, people have been mapping their thoughts and ideas in this manner for decades under the title of 'mind maps', and no doubt hundreds of years under other guises. Mind maps have become known as a tool to use to clearly note down your thoughts in a logical manner.
A great example of this is a brainstorming session. To start, place the main idea in the middle of the map. From this main starting point each of your thoughts or suggestions becomes a new 'node' or junction on the map. You can then add to this node further by adding more nodes to dig down into the idea and note your thoughts, until you have a map that is as simple as you like, or as complex as you need. That really is the key thing to remember about mind maps, whilst they might seem a little overwhelming at first glance, they are only as complicated as you need them to be.
It can be used to organise projects too, below is a map that I have made for this website, as an example of how the mechanisms work, and you can see the way that different parts can be expanded and closed to drill down into the information, or to get a great overview
An Example Thinking Space Mindmap
Making a mind map is a great way to clarify your thoughts, and organise your ideas in a visual way.
Now we've given mind maps a little intro, let's move onto the app itself; it is very well thought out from many points of view. The menus are consistent and logical, with the main functions exactly where you would expect them to be. That's not to say there is nothing new here, far from it, one of the most useful features is the addition of a gesture pad, reached by pressing the yellow star in the quick menu. This allows the main functions of the app to be controlled by drawing gestures on the gesture pad. the pad can be resized to take up more of the screen if you are using the app on a tablet for example, vs a phone.
Amalgamated images to show the menu system in Thinking Space
The compatibility of the format is another great feature, it can be compatible with the open source mind mapping software Freemind on your desktop, you can 'cloud' your maps and edit them online with Mindmeister, or use XMind to manage them on your desktop as well.
The app allows you to set your own storage folder which whilst not sounding that useful allows you to put the maps into a synced folder, say in your Dropbox or SugarSync folder. This means that whenever you want to use your maps on your desktop computer they are there, ready to go.
To surmise, I love this app! It has made me more organised, it's galvanised ideas that otherwise would be less clear, and has made it easy to manage my side projects, like this site.
You can download Thinking Space from the Android Market, or visit the developer's page directly here. Let me know what you think: Do you use this app? Do you find it as useful as me? Hit the comments box and post your thoughts.
Since i wrote this piece the Thinking Space developer has been employed by Mindjet and the app has been appropriated by them too. The app still remains on the market, but has lost the cloud functionality. MindJet has also released their own app which is a re-branded version of Thinking Space