Everything You Need To Know About Mind Mapping
I first learned about Mind Mapping when I took a time management course back in 2005. That course covered Mind Mapping as a tool for time management and personal productivity. At that time I did not really feel that there was much use for it, and I used it very sparingly.
Fast-forward six years later, Mind Mapping is not only something I use every day, but after slowly implementing Mind Mapping and it’s principles over the years, it has now found itself a home in everything that I do. Thanks to Mind Mapping, I now enjoy increased levels of creativity, efficiency, productivity and information retention.
Everything I do from planning to organizing, is done through some sort of Mind Map. Even the very blog post I am writing right now is written from a Mind Map that I created to specifically cover all the topics I wanted to discuss. Contained within this post are all the details you will need to know about the Mind Mapping. You will learn of its history and how you too can reap all the benefits I have experienced from its use.
What is a Mind Map?
The term Mind Map has been credited to Tony Buzan. His 1994 book titled “The Mind Map Book,” contains all his research and information about the subject, including all the fundamental information about the subject. Although, Mind Mapping has evolved a great deal since the book’s release date, the information contained within this post will strive to make it more applicable for our times.
A Mind Map is a visual representation of how the brain sorts out information. In the center of the Mind Map you have a keyword or an image. Radiating from that center are more keywords and images associated and link in a similar way the brain makes its own links and associations. From those keywords and images, more layers can be added and it can keep going without any end or until the desired result is achieved.
If we had all the time in the world to sit down and Mind Map a topic and keep adding to its keywords and images, we would have created links and associations so vast that it would never be finished. This is because the very act of Mind Mapping brings about new understandings and relations.
By nature the brain sorts out information in a non-linear way. It uses different senses and stimuli to take in and comprehend our environment. That being said, if we can mimic the flow of how the brain handles information, we will find it a lot easier to accomplish tasks such as studying and planning. With Mind Mapping, we can work visually with information a lot easier and more efficiently.
Some Benefits Of Mind Mapping
- Efficiency. Mind Mapping often takes a fraction of the time to do when compared to other tasks performed to achieve the same desired results.
- Brain Engagement. Mind Mapping engages much more of the brain in a more natural manner.
- Creativity. Mind Mapping stimulates and encourages creativity.
- Confidence. Mind Mapping increases levels of self-confidence because it unlocks potential that might be suppressed or not encouraged by other methods.
- Organization. Mind Mapping might not look as organized as bullet points or numbered data, but its a more intuitive way of expanding information.
- Details. Mind Mapping will often bring to the surface details that you might not have been aware of before.
- Fun. Creating a Mind Map is a lot more fun than other methods used for information organizing or presentation.
- Applications. You can Mind Map for many different reasons. Everything from brainstorming to writing and project management.
How to create a Mind Map
You can create a Mind Map in two primary ways. You could do it by hand using paper and coloured pencils, or you could do it on a computer using an app. I personally like to do everything I possibly can on a computer because I find it to be faster and necessary corrections can be made more easily. Also, the information can be scaled and imported into other Mind Maps or to related software a lot easier.
For recommendations on what app or software you can use, click here.
Steps to Mind Mapping
- Place your topic in the middle. This is will be your topic of focus.
- Add and image. It can either be an image that is included with the app you are using one of or your own.
- Add sub-Keywords. Add as many or as little as you would like. I like to use seven. Seven is the maximum amount of information that can be stored in the “Working Memory”, which is the ability to actively hold bits of information in the mind. Its also one of the reasons why we decided on seven digits for phone numbers.
- Place images besides your keywords. You don’t need to place them for all but the more images you use, the better.
- Use different colours for your keywords. You can either categorize or group your keywords by colour. I use different colours for keywords in each of my Mind Maps.
- Use keywords predominantly versus key-phrases. We do this to remove creative restrictions and allow it to naturally expand further on our keywords. Mind Mapping should be as non-restrictive as possible. A key-phrase is a sentence. A sentence is restrictive because it can be too specific and not allowing much room for creativity.
- Images do not need to be fancy. I recommend that you use images that carry within them emotional meanings. Images that are humorous or tug away at emotions can help make the Mind Maps more effective. The most important thing is that they are relevant to you.
- Use as much colour as possible. Colour will add more options and make your creating process more fun.
It took me a while before I finally incorporated Mind Maps to the extent I have today. Now everything I do in my life involves a Mind Map or a Mind Mapping type of process. The benefits from Mind Mapping make it all worth it. The biggest thing you can get out of it is a paradigm shift in your way of thinking, and into a less restrictive, more efficient and creative approach to your project or ideas.
List of ways you can use Mind Maps
- Project planning. You can use a Main Map to plan your projects. Doing so will help make sure you have not forgotten key details about what you are working on.
- Taking notes during lectures and presentations. You can create a mind map and branch out the points covered so everything is organized and grouped
- Writing. You can use mind maps to organize your work before you write. You can make sure that you have all the information is covered and organize it better.
- Event Planning. You can include in your mind map the list of guests and tasks you need to do plan your next event or party.
- Day to day tasks. Create a Mind map to plan your day to day tasks and make sure that no details are missed and everything is done efficiently
- Lifestyle. One thing I have done personally is to make a Mind Map for my lifestyle. It includes all the areas of my life and the things I enjoy doing and need to do to make sure I am achieving my goals and balancing out my time more efficiently.
- Decision making. You can use a mind map to better make decisions. You can easily map our pros, cons and the relationships to each. You will also be able to stimulate thoughts and ideas that you would have otherwise overlooked.
It’s great to be alive in one of the most information dense times in history. The information is out there and easily accessible. The challenge becomes efficiency. You only get 24 hours a day. That is one thing that will never change, but Mind Mapping is a tool that has helped me get more out of my day than I could have ever imagined before I started using it.
Joseph is an Iris instructor based out of Toronto. He loves to share his personal knowledge as an entrepreneur, and credits a lot of his success to speed reading techniques and productivity strategies.