For many of us, it has become a force of habit. As soon as we have to take down something important, plan a process or just think about a new idea, we grab a pen and start listing points one below the other. And while this may be an effective way to record information, this form of linear note-taking denies us the ability to create associations and limits our creative potential. That’s where mind maps come in handy.
A mind map is a visual thinking tool that is great for storing, organizing, prioritizing, learning, reviewing and memorizing information.
What’s great about a mind map is that they record information and ideas in the same way our brains conceive them. A mind map starts with a central theme and has various ideas and associations branching out. It helps depict a flow of information and captures how one thing is related to another.
A graphical tool: A mind map incorporates images, graphics, numbers and words, making it very visually appealing and greatly increasing memorability. This is very useful as you are 6 times more likely to remember a combination of visuals and words than you are to with just words.
Creates natural associations: A mind map helps in grouping related concepts together, creating a more logical flow of information. This helps to generate more ideas and also helps you recognise the gaps in your thinking.
Wide and deep: Mind maps have the unique ability to provide a large overview on a subject while holding great amounts of detail within it.
Ignites creativity: They are free-flowing and can encourage lateral thinking, mind maps promote the generation of connections and are designed to record ideas at the speed of thought.
What are mind maps used for?
One of the best things about mind maps is its versatility. They are simple to create but can represent complex ideas and can be used by everyone from students to CEOs.
Mind maps can be used to plan projects, discuss agendas, communicate ideas to teams and showcase the interdependence of tasks.
Mind maps are a great way for students to create ready reckoners and to establish an easy to understand overview about the subject they are learning.
Mind mapping is a fantastic way to plan an event as it collects all the relevant information of an event in one centralised location.
Mind maps can be used to create marketing plans and strategies, formulate research methodologies and identify potential avenues to promote product and services.
Mind maps are a great tool in creative fields, it organises thoughts while allowing there to be a free flow of ideas. It promotes quick associations and is a great way to think laterally.
How to draw a mind map:
Begin with the central concept: In the centre of your canvas write down one or two words that broadly define your task. It can be a subject, a problem or just a thought. Use an image or a picture to accompany your concept- this will help stimulate more thoughts and ideas around it.
Add branches as you go: These are sub categories that are most directly related to your topic. Associations that directly come from the central theme are called first level associations, they are followed by second level associations and third level associations and so on. The brain thinks by imagination and association, when associations are created, connections are made. These connections are essential for remembering and thinking.
Use keywords: A mind map aims to summarize information. Instead of long sentences, use single keywords or short phrases. A single word per association gives more freedom, creativity and clarity.
Use curved lines: Research has shown that the brain responds better to gentler, curved lines and can create more associations as a result.
Use images: Enrich the content of the mind map by adding colours, visuals and icons, this makes it more memorable and stimulates the brain better.
Collaborate: Share your mind map with others to get feedback, develop further associations and identify areas you may have missed.
The possibilities of mind mapping truly are endless and with technology catching up, online mind mapping software now allows users to get instant access to a range of mind map templates across various topics.