If you need to organize your thoughts, your plans, your home or your life in any way… a mind map can help in a big way. Some people use these maps to study. Some use them to plan creative endeavors. I’ve seen them used as a business plan and I’ve used them to organize projects and bring them to life.
I’ve been using mind maps in my own ways for years, and when I recently learned to make them more extensive, to use all the science and all the creative power that they can have to their greatest advantage, I was hooked and had to share this so you can start drawing your own maps of brilliance and bringing things to life with greater ease!
This bit of research deepened my own map-making process to be so much more than a brain dump. These maps are a huge creative tool.
“Organizing ideas and concepts into graphic patterns has been explored for years by cognitive educators. Mind Mapping builds a process structure or “map” over the content body of the material a person has gathered, thereby organizing it for development. …Research has shown that developing mind maps increases thinking, memory and learning skills.” – Johanna Brams, MSEdT, Lehigh University
Essentially, you are organizing information on a big sheet of paper in the same way that your brain actually processes information. This is what makes mind maps very powerful.
Tony Buzan, the British psychology author, is the inventor of Mind Mapping. Mind Mapping creates a visual way to view information and connect ideas. A mind map has a focal point, which is the central idea, and includes non-linear branches that stem from the center, images representing ideas, as well as different colors used for forming the branches and words. Together this all represents the inter-connectedness of the parts to the whole.
Mind mapping allows information to be processed and organized using all of the brain—logic, mathematics, and science plus creativity, memory, attention and spatial thinking.
Mind mapping recognizes that thinking is not linear and can be improved by using both sides of the brain in an integrated way.
Tony Buzan explains on his website which is phenomenal that it’s “the whole brain alternative to linear thinking. It reaches out in all directions and catches thoughts from any angle.”
The role of ‘Mind Map’ can help you plan, communicate, be more creative, save time, solve problems, concentrate, organize, memorize and study faster.
Many geniuses used the technique of mind mapping including: Leonardo Da Vinci, Galileo Galilee, Charles Darwin, Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein and more!
How to make a Mind Map:
On Tony Buzan’s website, he lists the 7 steps to making a mind map and I would love for you to visit his site to learn in depth, though sharing them here for quick reference:
- Be sure to start with main, central idea in the center of a page of paper that is turned horizontally. This gives you more space on the page to expand your ideas and let the branches grow.
- You should always use an image or picture as your central idea.
- When creating your map, be sure to use color the entire time.
- It’s important to connect your main branches to the central idea and when branching out with ideas, the second and third level branches should connect together. This is to create an association in your mind.
- Your branches should always be curved.
- Use one word per line
- And be sure to continue using images as you are creating your mind map.
The creator Tony Buzan explains more about how to create a mind map in this video here:
Basic Ordering Ideas keep things clear.
You can download a whole, free & extensive PDF HERE on Mind Mapping, but some central points can get you sketching a starter one to experience the process that is so life-expanding!
The key is to start with a very simple and vital and important idea.
“Chuck Frey, author of the Mind Mapping Software Blog (2008), believes that you can really improve the quality of your Mind Maps by being aware of how to create good Basic Ordering Ideas What’s more, by working to make sense out of key ideas and ordering them in a visually meaningfully way, you are forced to understand how the partial ideas or concepts that follow are related to a larger whole. Basic Ordering Ideas therefore provide a high-level construct of your subject to help you to think in a naturally structured way, with second and third-level ideas following quickly and easily.” (source)
He explains that by setting a hierarchy of ideas, you can then expand on them through your map.
He believes that the central focus (the one in the center of your map) should be basic to provide you with the ability and freedom to expand your thoughts and associations. Through creating branches, you will realize the importance of your central focus.
The basic way he describes how to learn to understand the basic ordering of ideas is to answer these questions:
What are your specific objectives?
What information or knowledge do you need?
What are your key questions?
Who?, What? When? Where? Why? How? Which?
What are the most important categories you need to look at?
He explains that you should view your map as a novel and think of your central focus as the central theme and decide what the headings of your chapter would be.
If you imagine the central theme as a book you are writing, what would your chapter headings be?
An added study on the positive effects of mind mapping:
A survey was conducted by a mind mapping expert, Chuck Frey to see if using mind maps would increase productivity in business. The results showed that those people that used mind mapping believed it increased their productivity by 25%.
Images are important.
While we’ve all heard of vision boards, in mind maps images are very important to jump start and idea and expand it outward. Not only do images communicate thousands of times more powerfully than words alone (ie: “a picture is worth a thousand words”), images are vital to memory and lasting impressions.
Images and pictures are thought to be highly effective in memory retention. This has been named the Picture Superiority Effect.
“Based on research into the Picture Superiority Effect, when we read text alone, we are likely to remember only 10 percent of the information 3 days later. If that information is presented to us as text combined with a relevant image, we are likely to remember 65 percent of the information 3 days later.” – John Medina, Brain Rules, 2008 (via Huffington Post)
Color matters a lot!
You’ll want to grab your colored pencils, crayons or markers to bring these maps to life.
Color is vital to activate the energy of your two dimensional drawing.
Research conducted by the Institute for Color Research shows people make a subconscious judgment about an environment, or product within 90 seconds of initial viewing and between 62% and 90% of that assessment is based on color alone.”
Association & Chunking of data bring things to life in sophisticated ways.
The capacity for human memory is estimated to be between 7-9 items of information.
Mind Maps are thought to improve memory because they only contain the bare, poignant, essential words. This will lessen the information that needs to be processed and remembered, and each word will hold significance. (more on this HERE)
The associations you make will help you chunk information into one item in your mind, so your capacity to process and remember information will be higher.
The information is spread out visually, which also stimulates creativity
How can you use a mind map today?
At work: you can structure your days to be more effective. You can try making a simple one to illuminate a new project or an idea and bring it to greater life, expanding it’s dynamic capacity as you expand out the branches.
Creatively: you can use a map to expand out the character development in plays, screenplays and novels, you can plan creative installations, you can develop art projects…
At home: you can organize your time around your main priorities.
And… you can do one for a goal, for a trip, for a relationship, for studying, for personal growth, for goals…
There’s much more on this to come, but very simply, if this appeals to you as a tool, see if you can make your own starter map today packed with a poignant image, color, curved lines and clear words.
I have an enormous sketchpad beside me for this very purpose….& I can’t want to get a few of mine done this week!
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