Idea generation, idea collection and conception

I use my ipad for developing ideas and concepts which I then often process in the form of presentations and writings.
For this I have the following tools in use:

GoodNotes to capture things
Thoughts to try things out on a canvas (eg. ideas visualizations)
Ithoughts (recently moved from MindNode to iThoughts) for mind maps
Outliner pro for further processing of ideas.
Mindly for structuring
Microsoft whiteboard to visualize things and work with others on them.
PPT and word for presentation
What tools and workflows do you use

Interesting stack. Why so many visualization tools (Thoughts, iThoughts, Mindly, Whiteboard, and maybe also GoodNotes)?

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iThoughts is my Mindmap Tool. Mindly is somehow redundant but sometimes I like the way I can concentrate on a node and drill into things. I also like the bubble visualisation. Thoughts is to scribble around and test shapes or Lay-out ideas for slides. GoodNotes is my notebook. So in theory I could reduce it to GoodNotes, ithoughs and Microsoft Whiteboard and drop thoughts and Mindly. I also use outliner pro as a kind of man in the middle for opml. With iThoughts a lot of this functionality is not needed as iThoughts has excellent export options


Thanks. I was just curious, and your use case is now clearer to me :+1:

Anyway, to answer your original question – I don’t write down ideas anywhere unless I intend to do something with them, figuring if I can’t remember a thing it wasn’t worth knowing about. But when I need to flesh out ideas for work or personal research, I use:

  • Outlinely for formal outlining and organizing concepts.
  • Curio for concept mapping and collecting bits and pieces of text or images that are related to the composition.
  • Tinderbox when the conceptualization is more complex than Curio can handle, and I need to add metadata and/or slice and dice the notes
  • Powerpoint or Word, for the final products
  • DEVONthink for a repository and collecting related documents

Interesting stack! For me:

  • Goodnotes : take quick notes
  • Obsidian: Link my thinking
  • Scrintal: Brainstorm, visualise, mindmap and sometimes present all my ides.
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Why Outlinely? It’s got really poor ratings on the app store. Does it do something special?

I ignore App Store ratings.

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Obsidian on Mac or? I*ll give the iOs version a try.

Shock, horror, how will the app store survive. :grin:

I don’t use any apps rated below 4. Experience tells me that works most of the time.

Drafts for capturing/iterating/developing written ideas
Concepts for freehand capture
TLDraw or Excalidraw for slightly more structured visual thinking (experimenting with both, will probably settle on one)
iThoughts for mind-mapping, structured thinking and outlining (currently also experimenting with MindNode for the Reminders integration)

Most of the people I work with aren’t quite so tech-friendly, so while TLDraw and Excalidraw offer some interesting collaboration functionality, I’m more likely to end up outputting something to email. Sigh. :wink:

When I’m doing work like this, I think in terms of “ink” and “canvas” and I try to match the two to wherever I’m at in the ideation process. So, sometimes the idea is really nebulous and I need broad strokes for my ink and wide-open space for my canvas. Sometimes the idea is really refined and I need an outline or word processor. And most of the time it’s somewhere in between and I need a range of materials, analog and digital.

My current go-to ink and canvas combos are:

  • A whiteboard marker and whiteboards of various sizes from lap-sized to wall-sized
  • A sharpie and post-it notes
  • GoodNotes with post-it stickers and a broad stroke pen
  • A sharpie and crappy paper that I don’t feel bad wasting
  • A Pilot G2 (sized 10 or 07) or a pencil with soft lead and nicer paper of varying sizes up to 11x17 graph paper
  • GoodNotes with a finer stroke pen
  • Outliner (I haven’t found one I consistently go to, sigh.)
  • Tinderbox for visually laying out content, sometimes with notes and links, sometimes not
  • iA Writer, or Scrivener sometimes, for shitty first drafts
  • Scrivener for writing/editing
  • Either Google Docs or Microsoft word for revisions (depends on who I’m working with)

Also, sometimes I feel like I need to stand to think and other times I need to sit, so I have the ability to be at a computer standing or sitting and I use a Sketchboard for my iPad when I’m drawing so it feels more… compatible with “ideating.” I also use structures like grids, lines, and circles to organize my thoughts and I do a lot of freewriting to discover ideas.

ETA link for the Sketchboard


Ithoughs has a one-time export to reminders. That’s enough for idea creation. Do you use the „way-back“ so do you need to tra k the reminder status in your Mindmap as well. I tested it but never used that feature in MindNode. As I only use the ideation and maybe one-time export of todos it never occurs to me that it might be different.

Like I say, I’m experimenting… :wink:

I appreciate the fact that you can push a reminder to an existing list from iThoughts, but yes— with MindNode, there’s a bit more of a sync between the map and the reminders list (though the map becomes its own list in Reminders). Also, I like that MindNode retains the path for an exported reminder— so the reminder contains a listing of all its forebear nodes in the map. That’s useful.

That said (and as you state), iThoughts provides everything I need for ideation, and I actually find it more intuitive to work with. I really only mentioned MindNode because they sit in a similar group of tools, even though I use the, for different reasons.

I love my Sketchboard — I ordered one from the first production run.

A purchase that was even better than I thought it’d be.

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After reading all of this feedback, some thoughts an some playing aground with apps I have reduced my stake to

  • Goddnotes (Note taking Sketching)
  • iThought: Mindmapping
  • MS Whiteboard: Idation and brainstorming with others.
  • MS Office: final production of results.
    I have now the idea to reduce the app stack as much as possible because having to much tools can be a distraction of its own. So do more with less is the path I try to follow which hopefully allows me to go also deeper down the rabbit hole with each app I really use.
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