What is a Mind Map
A Mind Map is an extremely useful tool and an equally forgotten tool when it comes to planning- and planning anything. Taking a course in User Experience design, I was reintroduced to Mind Mapping and I must say it is pretty amazing how good use of this tool can add positively to the planning of your project or your task.
I have spent hundreds of hours planning different aspects of my life, including pet projects, relationship management and career development objectives and I see the use of Mind Maps invaluable.
According to Wikipedia, “Mind maps are, by definition, a graphical method of taking notes. Their visual basis helps one to distinguish words or ideas, often with colors and symbols. They generally take a hierarchical or tree branch format, with ideas branching into their subsections. Mind maps allow for greater creativity when recording ideas and information, as well as allowing the note-taker to associate words with visual representations. Mind maps differ from concept maps in that mind maps focus on only one word or idea, whereas concept maps connect multiple words or ideas.
A key distinction between mind maps and modelling graphs is that there is no rigorous right or wrong with mind maps, relying on the arbitrariness of mnemonic systems. A UML Diagram or a Semantic network has structured elements modelling relationships, with lines connecting objects to indicate relationship. This is generally done in black and white with a clear and agreed iconography.
Mind maps serve a different purpose: they help with memory and organization. Mind maps are collections of words structured by the mental context of the author with visual mnemonics,and, through the use of colour, icons and visual links are informal and necessary to the proper functioning of the mind map.
What is a Mind Map Used For?
Mind Maps can be used for
- problem solving
- outline/framework design
- structure/relationship representations
- anonymous collaboration
- marriage of words and visuals
- individual expression of creativity
- condensing material into a concise and memorable format
- team building or synergy creating activity
- enhancing work morale
How to use Mind Maps
|1. Take a blank piece of paper, A4 or larger.||Blank paper allows 360º of freedom to express the full range of your cortical skills, whereas pre-drawn lines restrict the natural flow of your thoughts.|
|2. Use the paper in landscape orientation.||Words and images have more space in the direction we write, so they don’t bump into margins as quickly.|
|3. Start in the centre.||Thoughts start in the centre of our mental world. The Mind Map page reflects this!|
|4. Make a central image that represents the topic about which you are writing/thinking:
||A picture is worth a thousand words. It opens up associations, focuses the thoughts, is
fun and results in better recall:
|5. The main themes around the central image are like the chapter headings of a book:
|The main themes, connected to the central image on the main branches, allow their relative importance to be seen. These are the Basic Ordering Ideas (BOIs) and aggregate and focus the rest of the Mind Map:
|6. Start to add a second level of thought. These words or images are linked to the main branch that triggered them. Remember:
||Your initial words and images stimulate associations. Attach whatever word or image is triggered. Allow the random movement of your thought; you do not have to ‘finish’ one branch before moving on:
|7. Add a third or fourth level of data as thoughts come to you:
||Your brain is like a multi-handed thought-ball catcher. The Mind Mapallows you to catch and keep whatever ‘thought ball’ is thrown by your brain.|
|8. Add a new dimension to your Mind Map. Boxes add depth around the word or image.||To make some important points stand out.|
|9. Sometimes enclose branches of a Mind Map with outlines in colour:
||The outlines will create unique shapes as you find in clouds and will aid your memory:
|10. Make each Mind Map a little more:
||Your eyes and brain will be attracted to your Mind Map:
|11. Have fun!
Add a little humour, exaggeration or absurdity wherever you can.
|Your brain will delight in getting the maximum use and enjoyment from this process and will therefore learn faster, recall more effectively and think more clearly.|