Seven Free Brainstorming Tools for 2019

Two people working together.

Brainstorming is the start of innovation, but sometimes you need a little push. These brainstorming tools will help you find the creative momentum you need.

Google Docs And Google Sheets

Google Docs offers a sort of collaborative scratch paper for brainstorming, while Google Sheets offers a more organized approach to sort ideas and leave notes. These two programs are especially useful as collectors of ideas; team members can leave a sheet open and type in thoughts as they come in, instead of peppering each other with instant messages or hasty emails. It also tracks who adds what, allowing your team to trace back what was written and why.

Visual Thesaurus

This useful tool generates association trees from any word you type in. It’s useful for finding the right word to describe a concept, but it can also help you spin off into new realms of creativity. The tool also offers definitions and pronunciations of unfamiliar words, so you’ll learn something along the way.

Slack

If you need to bounce your ideas off somebody, but don’t want to lose those ideas along the way, Slack is a handy tool. Unlike many other chat apps, Slack stores everything you say in a permanent archive, making it easier to talk about challenges and preserve a record of your solutions.

Coggle

Coggle is an organizational tool that allows you to create mind maps. Just write down a term, begin free-associating, and add each association as a bubble with arrows and connections. It’s a useful map of your creative journey, and since it’s a website instead of an app, easily accessible as long as you’ve got an internet connection. As a bonus, it’s got a bright, soothing, highly attractive art style.

Three people working at a table using a laptop.

MindMeister

Not everybody can always be in the room when you’re brainstorming, and MindMeister helps bridge the gap. Available on the web and updating in real time, you and your team can collaborate and discuss no matter where you happen to be on this virtual whiteboard. It’ll also help keep better records of what you discuss and your approach.

Ideament

The freeform approach often necessary for brainstorming presents a problem afterward: organizing everything. Ideament is an app with tools to create mind maps, flow charts, and other flowing approaches, and then turns them into a text outline that’s easily emailed, copied and pasted, and otherwise shared. It’s useful both for organizing and reducing the need for note-taking or recording.

IdeaBoardz

If you’re more a note-cards-and-cork-board thinker, IdeaBoardz translates that experience to the web. A collaborative tool, it allows members of a group to make virtual sticky notes and slap them under chosen categories. In a nice touch, a Like button allows your team to pick out the ideas they enjoy. It’s especially useful for ranking ideas with a big group; as likes collect, the more popular ideas stand out.

While no tool can take the place of a thoughtful brainstorming session, organizing and documenting your thoughts can make the rest of the process easier. To learn more about idea management and creativity, join our newsletter today! 

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