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 there was much use for it, and I used it very sparingly.
Fast-forward to six years later, Mind Mapping is not only something I use every day, but after slowly implementing Mind Mapping and its principles over the years, it has 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 creating right now is written from a Mind Map that I created to specifically cover all the topics I wanted to discuss.
This post contains all the details you will need to know about Mind Mapping. You will learn about 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. 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 linked in a similar way the brain makes its own links and associations. More layers can be added from those keywords and images, 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.
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 it’s 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 colored 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 to access our resources section.
Steps to Mind Mapping
- Place your topic in the middle. This will be your topic of focus.
- Add an image. It can either be an image that is included with the app you are using or one of 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 mind. It’s also one of the reasons why we decided on seven digits for phone numbers.
- Place images beside your keywords. You don’t need to place them for all but the more images you use, the better.
- Use different colors for your keywords. You can either categorize or group your keywords by color. I use different colors 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 allow 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 color 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.
What can Mind Maps be used for?
Mind maps can be used for the following activities:
You can use a Mind Map to plan your projects. Doing so will help make sure you have not forgotten key details about what you are working on. Moreover, making a mind map encourages a spontaneous stream of ideas, so you can organize information visually and obtain a comprehensive overview of the entire project.
Taking notes during lectures and presentations
Mind mapping is an effective note-taking technique as it utilizes great focus and comprehension in linking each information or concept to every other fact or idea.
Mind maps reveal the general structure of a subject as well as the importance of other particular, relative elements, allowing people to establish and understand connections between them. You can create a mind map and branch out the points covered so everything is organized and grouped.
You can use mind maps to organize your work before you write. You can make sure that you have all the information covered and organized.
Mind Maps can help you write essays and academic papers better because it allows you to strategize and structure your research beforehand. Branching out on a central topic may also lead to a continuous flow of ideas, which overall leads to the creation of a logical framework and direction for the entirety of your paper, specifically the cohesiveness of the introduction, body, and conclusion.
In your mind map, you can include the list of guests and the day-to-day tasks you need to do to plan your next event or party.
A mind map is an excellent template for event planning since it allows you to consolidate all event-related information in one go, making every task simpler for you and the rest of your team. You can also include their ideas and ask them to collaborate with you so you can move quickly from brainstorming to implementation.
Create a Mind map to plan your daily tasks and make sure that no details are missed and everything is done efficiently.
One thing I have done personally is to make a Mind Map for my lifestyle. It includes all the areas of my life and what I enjoy doing and need to do to make sure I achieve my goals and balance my time more efficiently.
A mind map can aid in the exploration of our daily goals, habits, aspirations, and practices, including all the possible alternatives that can help alleviate our lives holistically. It gives us a fresh perspective on things by helping us view the entirety of a single day, which in the end helps us weigh which activities are in need of complete omission or improvement.
You can use a mind map to make decisions better. You can easily map our pros, cons, and the relationships with each. You will also be able to stimulate thoughts and ideas that you would have otherwise overlooked.
In addition, the nature of mind maps can lead our analysis of the scenario, with clear visualization and documentation of the risks and consequences of our decisions, including all the associated facts that come with every possible choice.
Rules for Effective Mind Mapping
Take note of the following rules to make mind mapping an effective practice:
Identify the main purpose of your mind map first.
Because mind maps begin from the core and work their way out, your major idea will be placed at the center to represent the main theme. As such, your key idea can be:
- A problem you’re attempting to solve
- A concept for a project you’re working on
- A tough subject you’re trying to understand more.
Consolidate, restructure, and create.
Gather all your sources and other relevant learning materials. Read them to consolidate all the necessary information that you need to make your mind map. And then, restructure them according to broadness as it would be better to create mind maps for the basic, fundamental concepts first to digest the subject better. Then, develop more specific mind maps as needed.
That way, you are able to effectively maximize a mind map’s benefits, particularly brain engagement, efficiency, and organization.
Once you’ve identified the key themes inside your topic, branch out until you’ve achieved a full understanding of what you’re making a mind map about.
Keep your information organized Again, be careful to keep your information organized, with the most essential elements closer to the primary concept.
Draw lines to show connections between ideas.
Establishing how concepts and topics relate to one another via lines can highlight connections between ideas to demonstrate how one part of a topic or issue impacts another.
Once you’ve discovered these associations, examine them thoroughly and refine them for further understanding.
Optimize your mind map’s visual output.
Your mind map’s visual output can be optimized by using symbols and shapes to categorize various concepts, theories, and insights, shortening information via keywords, using multi-headed arrows in various sizes, colors, thicknesses, and styles, incorporating images, and using different font sizes to indicate significance.
Make room for unexpected subjects or fresh ideas.
Inspiration and personal interpretation of various ideas, issues, and topics may come suddenly. Thus, it would be best to leave a little space for them anywhere on the map, as these random thoughts may come in handy later.
Customize your mind maps by considering your desired approach.
A mind map is more useful if you own it and create it with the way you perceive information, so use colors, shapes, and other items that can help you process the mind map more efficiently.
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.
Moreover, mind maps reveal the general structure not only of a subject but also of our daily lives if we allow it. It helps us view and comprehend various aspects of issues, topics, and even real-life situations. We can establish connections between ideas and situations that we need to improve consistently.
Aside from using mind maps, you can also maximize your daily efficiency by taking our Personal Productivity course. Register now for lifetime access to a package of 33 instructional videos, over thirteen hours of content, three free webinars, and a certificate of completion.
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.
wow much swag
I just came across your podcast and blog – hope it’s not too late to comment.
I wanted to know how important the image itself is when you’re “mind mapping.” I can see myself spending WAY too much time trying to locate the “right image” to represent a thought.
Try using the Simplemind software or app for phone. The image is important but if you don’t wish to use images, using the format of branching helps activate the right side of your brain to get more involved. I personally do not use images a lot but I do use branches and keywords. I hope that helps. Let me know if you need anything else.
Great post Joseph, but I’d really like to see more of the mind maps you’ve created!
What does it look like when a mind map is used for decision-making? For note-taking? For balancing out your lifestyle? I would love to see a sample for each of the uses you listed.
I had some that I created on there but my MindMeister account expired and they took them off. I have to create another account and get them on there. I will take some snapshots of my workbooks that have mind maps and post them. P.S I need to come check out your Monday night improve classes soon, I could use a little improve for my classes :D Perhaps I can share with you my mind mapping when for the specifics when I am there.
Thanks for your feedback,
That would be so perfect to have you out for improv! And I can just see what it would look like with little scenes and improvised bits in your speed-reading class!
Have you every taught a mind-mapping workshop? It’s great not only for organising and unleashing creativity, but also for visioning and creating a future you desire. When you come for improv and see my studio, I’d love to talk with you about it.
All the best,
Are you having it on the coming Monday? I would love to go. Kensington market right?
Yes I am.
Hope to see you this Monday! :)
Wow! What a great post. I am not sure if mind mapping will work out for me because I am not sure I will take the time to use them properly. I like to do what I think of as I think of it (before I forget or get distracted), however I do tend to forget things and the structure of my posts could do with a little bit more direction. I am going to try mind mapping on pen and paper for a little bit and see how it goes. Thanks for the amazing information!
Thanks for you feedback. Even if you do it very quick, the very act of drawing images and using art in your note taking will help engage the right side of your brain which will boost your creativity and increase your retention. It took me a while to implement it totally into everything I do but I am glad I did. The results I get today are at a whole other level thanks to Mind Mapping. Without it we are missing out on the power that is locked away in the right side of our brain.
Have a wonderful day!
Hi again Joseph,
Just a follow up. I am now mind mapping! Although I am not using images I am still getting the benefits of my thoughts being much more organized and following a more logical order which I hope shows up in my posts. I am using an app on my Macbook called SimpleMind which was free and it is perfect for me as it is so simple and easy to use. I would have not even tried it if it wasn’t for this post so thank you :-)
Thanks Ramy for your feedback! I am very happy that you are getting the benifits from my post. I will have to try out that app also, thanks for sharing
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Thank dude for the brief information on brain mapping.It will help us to know how to improve our memory and how to do improve our current difficult works in time.These information are necessary for everyone to improve their current status of thinking,organizing the works in the proper manner.
You are welcome, I am glad you feel that way. I have recently put Mind Mapping into everything I do and with great feedback and results. We are just beginning to scratch the surface on it’s potential and uses. I found that once I grasped the paradigm of Mind Mapping and it’s concepts, everything just started to flow a lot easier as far as managing information goes.
Joe, I believe you are spot on. I recently discover the power of mind mapping and it has been an amazing experience. You can almost apply it to anything you do that will require thought. The balance of choosing to mind map or just do will be subjective, factors will be based on each person’s experience, complexity of the project and the ability to think ahead and outside of the box.
I’m not in favor with a program that requires subscription. I was wondering if you will recommend some apps that will serve the purpose without a subscription cost.
I’m currently using iThoughts on my Ipad and I believe its pretty good. Just not sure if there is anything better out there. One of the downside to this app is that you can’t
Thanks for the posting
Thanks for your feedback. You can try FreeMind. It’s a free application for Mind Mapping. I have used it and it seems to do the job great. This is an application for Windows and MAC. Also. Once you create Mind Maps with that app you can load FreeMindLite on your iphone or iPAD which will allow you to view the Mind Maps. Hope that helps, have a good one!