The iPad Lawyer – A Penny for Your iThoughts
During my seminars, I routinely rave about a marvelous mindmapping app called iThoughtsHD (http://www.ithoughts.co.uk). For those unfamiliar with mindmapping and Tony Buzan’s (http://www.thinkbuzan.com) game-changing work on it, it is essentially a free-form and visual way to capture and record your thoughts! I use mindmapping for brainstorming, office management (yes, it does a fine job of replacing my old love – Lotus Agenda), case management, mediation and trial preparation, presentations, and other planning and writing. In fact, I could go on and on about how I use this app – it is that versatile and powerful.
Today, I want to share with you some little-known shortcuts for using iThoughtsHD (or what the developer of iThoughtsHD, himself, calls the “hidden features”). But, before I do, let’s start with some basic common ground: when I mindmap, I generally use an external, bluetooth keyboard (I happen to use one from Zagg – http://www.zagg.com) because there are just some things that make data entry faster and more consistent. While the native onscreen iOS keyboard can certainly be used for data entry, an external keyboard is just a more high-octane thought capture method if you are going to be entering lots of text.
Now, back to iThoughtsHD. Normally, you have to tap the icons at the top right of the iThoughtsHD app screen to create sibling and child branches in your mindmap (for those new to mindmapping, the sibling and child branches are where your information and data are entered and organized to suit your personal needs). However, there are faster and more efficient ways when using your external keyboard (as I indicated, these tips will also work with the native iOS keyboard, it’s just a little less elegant in my opinion).
For example, when you are writing or editing in iThoughtsHD and you tap the SPACE BAR three times quickly, you generate a new child topic (a branch off of the parent topic you are currently working on). If you tap the ENTER KEY three times quickly, you will create a new sibling topic (a branch that is at the same hierarchal level as the parent topic you are working on). You’ll notice that I said you must strike the SPACE BAR and ENTER KEY “quickly.” iThoughtsHD is now “time bound” (to use the creator’s own term). In other words, if you strike the SPACE BAR or ENTER KEY three times slowly, you will enter three spaces (if using the SPACE BAR) or line returns (if using the ENTER KEY) in your current topic rather than creating either a sibling or child branch.
And here’s an important time-saving tip: if you’ve already created a branch with a parent and child topic, you can go into the parent topic, tap the SPACE BAR three times quickly, and iThoughtsHD will insert another child topic BETWEEN the two topics that previously existed. Likewise, if you want to break a topic into a parent and child branch, you can go into a topic, tap the SPACE BAR or ENTER KEY three times quickly, and the topic will be split either with a new child topic (if using the SPACE BAR) or sibling topic (if using the ENTER KEY).
If you want to delete a topic, you can use the keyboard by deleting any information you have written, and then simply tapping the BACKSPACE (or DELETE) KEY in the empty topic area three times quickly. Once the target topic is deleted, you will be taken back to the parent topic.
Now, here’s a non-keyboard shortcut. Suppose you want to take a topic you have written and merge it with another one. Simply, tap and hold on an existing topic and then drag it to the target topic you want to merge it with. Continue to hold the dragged topic over the target topic for a few seconds and a MERGE text message will appear. Once that MERGE message appears, release your finger from the screen and, voila, the two topics will now merge.
Finally, there is yet another trick that will speed up your use of iThoughtsHD; namely, using Siri (or dictation) to capture your thoughts and create a mindmap. To do this, you will not be using an external keyboard. Rather, if you want to dictate your mindmap, access the native iOS keyboard and you will see a small MICROPHONE BUTTON appear just to the left of the SPACE BAR when entering a topic. By pressing the MICROPHONE BUTTON, you will enable speech dictation and you can simply say your thoughts. Your words will appear as text in your mindmap. But wait, there’s more! If you are using dictation to enter your thoughts and ideas, and you say the word “COMMA” during your dictation, each “COMMA” will break your dictation into sibling topics at each “COMMA.” For example, if you were to dictate, “One, COMMA, Two, COMMA, Three,” iThoughtsHD would automatically create three sibling topics with the words “One,” “Two,” and “Three” in their own separate topic bubbles.
Obviously, if you don’t have the iThoughtsHD app or understand mindmapping, all of this might sound a bit complicated and much like a foreign language to you. I challenge you to stretch your knowledge base by purchasing the iThoughtsHD app. Then, start fiddling around with it so that you, too, discover how it can make you a more efficient and effective attorney. Of course, you can always find a YouTube video of iThoughtsHD and see it in action, first.
By the way, this is one of the apps that I will be going into in more detail during the Advanced iPad Lawyer Seminar coming up on June 7, 2013 at my Rancho Cucamonga office.
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© 2013 by Scott Grossberg. All Rights Reserved.