Mindmapping - It’s a technique I’ve come to embrace over the years but it has not been an easy journey…
I first came across it in 6th form I seem to recall someone mentioning it was a good method for revision, but I never paid it much attention. I was a notes and lists kinda person...
During the next 12 years of my working life I often came across them and people that simply raved about them as a technique for making notes, brainstorming, planning and a whole host of other uses, but I just didn’t get it.
Even though I left education at 18, it was less than a year before I was studying again, from a simple Business Studies exam through my Administration Diploma, Personnel Diploma, Train the Trainer and a whole host of technical courses, despite constant exposure and people trying to tell me about how brilliant they were - I never could see the benefits of the “Mind Map”.
It all came to a head when in the early 2000’s I was studying for my Business Analysis Diploma, I turned up for one particular module and the instructor proceeded to tell us that we would take notes for the course using mind maps, well that was like a red rag and we proceeded to have a rather heated exchange, there was no way I was going to try and draw pictures for my notes, I write, I make notes, I make lists, I do not write concise one word/short sentences in a pretty diagram. I basically said I would not be dictated to as to how I take notes for a course etc etc… So, I didn’t and I still passed…
Fast forward a few years, like most people I was always in search of the ultimate way of tracking the “To Do List” and I was very much a list person but I’d pretty much tried everything. The problem was that my tasks lists usually covered lots of different areas that weren’t really related, and I'd have action points from various meetings dotted around a very large pile of notebooks. I could never come up with just one nice orderly list, it ended up being a list where tasks were intermingled with each other, that once tasks started to be actioned or new points added it just became messy and I couldn't put it in any semblance of order!. At the very same time, I became aware that our company had a global licence for Mindjet Mind Manager.
Now I love a good app (that’s a whole different story) I think one of the reasons I didn’t get on with mind maps, is on paper it was hard to get it down right in one go, and the fact that I was artistically challenged. I’d want to change things, reorder, prioritise etc and it then became messy and unbalanced, but now I could do it on the laptop, I could move, delete, colour and change to my hearts content and so I became a Mind Mapper!!!
My to do list was transformed from endless books of scribbled actions to a carefully structured coloured diagram with tasks relating to core activities climbing gently across the page, with little markers to indicate priorities/deadlines etc…
From there I’ve used as a planning tool, brain dump, ideas and recently full circle taking notes on paper from webinars I’m listening to.
So what is a Mind Map?
“A mind map is a graphical way to represent ideas and concepts. It is a visual thinking tool that helps structuring information, helping you to better analyse, comprehend, synthesize, recall and generate new ideas. In a mind map, as opposed to traditional note taking or a linear text, information is structured in a way that resembles much more closely how your brain actually works. Since it is an activity that is both analytical and artistic, it engages your brain in a much, much richer way, helping in all its cognitive functions. And, best of all, it is fun!”-
How to create a Mind Map
Essentially you start with a central topic in the middle of a piece of paper (landscape is good).
Add a number of related subtopics connected to a central point. Use colours, different text sizes; different line thicknesses to add visual depth.
For each subtopic break down into a further level and so on until you can no further.
Keep labels short, you don't need to be an artist or graphic designer, anything goes!
My Top 10 uses for Mind Mapping
1. Weekly Planner or To Do List
2. Project Planner
3. Brain Dump
4. Content Creation
5. Vision and Goal setting
6. Business Planning
7. Marketing Strategy
8. New Product Development
9. Problem Solving
10. Note Taking and study.
Check out my basic mindmap for generating blogging topics/content at the top of the page and these examples of Templates in xMind an online mapping tool