Hello, me again, the girl who loves a mind map. I already told you, my dear readers, about my obsession with mind maps in my contribution to our postgraduate survival guide. Then, I dug a little deeper and looked at the concept behind techniques like mind mapping when I wrote about Knowledge Visualization for the letter ‘K’. Now, I will tell you even more about the fabulous tool to make mind mapping even easier: the app XMind. Can you tell that we struggled to come up with another word for ‘X’?
So, What is X-Mind?
XMind is a mind mapping and brainstorming software that can be installed on computer, laptop, phone, and tablet. It is most commonly used to capture ideas and manage information but can also be useful when trying to work in a team as some versions are set out for team collaboration. Though most of this is subject to different subscriptions.
There are plans with special student deals available but personally, I find the free version does the job. If you opt for the paid version, you would have access to some features which are quite handy but I have not found myself needing them very often to justify spending the money. Though, I have to say, from time to time I wish I could access the mind maps on both my laptop and my phone. The good thing about the free version of this software is that there is no time limit, so no stress with cancellations or accidental subscriptions.
Why am I telling you this?
This post is not intended to be an advertisement for this particular software. I just want to highlight the many different software and apps that are out there to make your life as a student or academic a lot easier: trello.com, canva.com, and grammarly are amongst the most commonly used organising tools amongst students. Now, I add XMind to that list as my personal suggestion.
Whether you decide to pay for one, a few, or all the full access versions of the various tools that can make your life easier, the free versions usually suffice if you only need the basics. If you have some money to spare it might be worth getting full access to a particular software or app you find yourself using a lot. I usually think about it in meal deals. *Puts magic mathematician hat on* A 12 month subscription to *insert software name* costs *insert price* which would buy me *insert price divided by £3.00* meal deals at Tesco. You will quickly realise that a meal deal is actually not that cheap and that you benefit much more from spending that money on a tool that is useful doesn’t hurt you that much. Though it might hurt your bank account at the time of purchase. Then again, I am very stingy when it comes to spending money and only really consider things like this because funding allows me to.
What I am really trying to say here is that you should not be put off by pop-up ads and flashing buttons that tell you to subscribe to anything. Many online tools have a free version that usually does the job. But as I said earlier, if one of those software or apps is the key to you keeping on top of work, then it might be worth thinking about paying. Look at your own circumstances, your own techniques and ask yourself how you can benefit from full access and if that is really worth it. Other than that, hopefully you have as much fun in trying out all the different tools and finding the one that works best for you as I do!
Written by Monja Stahlberger, IMLR PhD Candidate
Check out the other A-Z Challenge participants as well!