Mind mapping is one of the best ways to capture your thoughts and bring them to life in visual form. Beyond just note-taking, though, mind maps can help you become more creative, remember more, and solve problems more effectively. Whether you’re new to mind maps or just want a refresher, here’s all you need to know about this technique.
A mind map is basically a diagram that connects information around a central subject. I like to think of it like a tree, although it has more of a radial structure. In any case, at the center is your main idea, say, poetry, and the branches are subtopics or related ideas, such as types of poetry, famous poets, and poetry publications. Greater levels of detail branch out from there and branches can be linked together.
Mind maps can be more effective than other brainstorming and linear note-taking methods for a number of reasons:
- It’s a graphical tool that can incorporate words, images, numbers, and color, so it can be more memorable and enjoyable to create and review. The combination of words and pictures is six times better for remembering information than words alone.
- Mind maps link and group concepts together through natural associations. This helps generate more ideas, find deeper meaning in your subject, and also prompt you to fill in more or find what you’re missing.
- A mind map can at once give you an overview of a large subject while also holding large amounts of information.
- It’s also a very intuitive way to organize your thoughts, since mind maps mimic the way our brains think—bouncing ideas off of each other, rather than thinking linearly.
- You can generate ideas very quickly with this technique and are encouraged to explore different creative pathways.
What do you need to make a mind map?
Because Mind Maps are so easy to do and so natural, the ingredients for your “Mind Map Recipe” are very few:
- Blank unlined paper
- Colored pens and pencils
- Your Brain
- Your imagination!
When you use Mind Maps on a daily basis, you will find that your life becomes more productive, fulfilled, and successful on every level. There are no limits to the number of thoughts, ideas and connections that your brain can make, which means that there are no limits to the different ways you can use Mind Maps to help you.
7 Steps to Making a Mind Map:
- Start in the CENTER of a blank page turned sideways. Why? Because starting in the center gives your Brain freedom to spread out in all directions and to express itself more freely and naturally.
- Use an IMAGE or PICTURE for your central idea. Why? Because an image is worth a thousand words and helps you use your Imagination. A central image is more interesting, keeps you focused, helps you concentrate, and gives your Brain more of a buzz!
- Use COLORS throughout. Why? Because colors are as exciting to your Brain as are images. Color adds extra vibrancy and life to your Mind Map, adds tremendous energy to your Creative Thinking, and is fun!
- CONNECT your MAIN BRANCHES to the central image and connect your second- and third-level branches to the first and second levels, etc. Why? Because your Brain works by association. It likes to link two (or three, or four) things together. If you connect the branches, you will understand and remember a lot more easily.
- Make your branches CURVED rather than straight-lined. Why? Because having nothing but straight lines is boring to your Brain.
- Use ONE KEY WORD PER LINE. Why Because single key words give your Mind Map more power and flexibility.
- Use IMAGES throughout. Why Because each image, like the central image, is also worth a thousand words. So if you have only 10 images in your Mind Map, it’s already the equal of 10,000 words of notes!
Essential Mind Mapping and Brainstorming Tools:
For inspiration, visit the Mind Map gallery page which exhibits great examples of Mind Maps done well for a range of topics and uses.