Have you heard the term “mind map”, but aren’t exactly sure what it is? Mind mapping is a planning strategy that many people love. It’s a perfect fit for the messy and creative process of building a website or creating an online course.
However, it can be used to tackle any project or goal in business, school, or life. Since it mimics the way your brain thinks, it can help you generate great ideas and make important connections.
What is a Mind Map?
A mind map is a method for getting thoughts out of your brain onto paper. It’s a visual representation of your ideas and how they relate to each other. In short, it’s a tool to help us expand our thoughts from a single topic into a web of connected ideas.
Why Does A Mind Map Work?
Notice that a mind map looks very similar to a brain network. That’s no coincidence! Mind maps model the way our brain stores and processes information. In short, a mind map is a graphic of what’s going on in our brain.
Our brain thinks in images, phrases, questions, and ideas. Not in complete sentences, paragraphs, or lists. Similarly, a mind map uses keywords and images to connect ideas in a visual format.
Mind Maps vs. Lists
Our brain is like a giant computer – always thinking, calculating, and processing. However, we are constantly overloaded with information and digital “noise”.
Most people deal with important information by making lists or taking notes. We might do a brain dump of all the things we need to do today or make a “to-do list” of action items in order of priority. However, this isn’t the most effective way to plan.
When you make lists and outlines, your eyes read from left to right and from top to bottom. But our brains DON’T naturally process information this way. In contrast, when you make a mind map, you’re outputting information in a nonlinear way – exactly how our brain DOES works.
Example of a Mind Map
Here’s an example of a mind map I created using ( Mindnode on my iPad) to teach my students how to build a website:
Benefits of Mind Mapping
When you create a mind map, you’re building connections between topics. As a result, those connections are stimulated and fired up every time you return to the mind map. Here are some proven benefits of mind mapping:
- Boosts productivity
- Easier to recall and comprehend information
- Stimulates creativity
- Facilitates connections between ideas
- Helps you generate great ideas
- Helps you think, pay attention, and learn better
History of Mind Mapping
Tony Buzon – a British psychologist, educator, and author – introduced the modern world to mind maps in the 1970s. After studying the way the brain works for decades, he determined that mind maps are the most effective way of processing information.
Watch Tony explain in the video below how he creates a mind map:
Getting Started with Mind Mapping Using Pen and Paper
- Start with a blank document
- Put a central idea IMAGE in the middle of the page
- Draw main branches out from the central idea (think of these as Chapter Headings). Make them slightly wavy, or curved.
- Draw second-level branches out from these main branches.
- Continue adding branches as needed
- Use color and stimulating images throughout
Put ONE keyword per branch. DO not use phrases or sentences. Using just one word will result in more freedom and potential for that idea.
Just remember, mind maps are meant to be creative, messy, and free form. It’s not an exact science – there’s no “right” or “wrong” answer with mind maps.
Here’s an example of someone making a mind map from scratch with just pen and paper and no software. I think you will find it the easiest and most creative way to get started. Watch the video and try one for yourself:
Digital Tools For Mind Mapping
Mind maps are easy to make. All you really need is a blank sheet of paper and some colored pens or pencils. However, there are numerous digital tools available for your computer or mobile device.
Although I started with the Mindnode software, it’s only in the Apple App store, and I prefer to create mind maps from my desktop. So the tool I use is now called https://bubbl.us. They have a free and a paid version.
There are numerous other digital mind mapping software tools. This article compares the 10 Best Mindmapping Software of 2021. Or do your own Google Search and try out different software. Each person will find the software that works for them. Or just use pen and paper! Works every time 🙂
Here is that same mind map again on building a website, but this time it’s with using Bubbl.us
Planning and productivity are important in running a business. To be successful, you’ve got to organize, strategize and take action. I’ve written several articles about planning, particularly using Google Calendar.
Mind mapping is another organizational tool you may find useful for processing and planning. It’s an effective way to get your ideas and connections onto paper, where they can grow into their full potential.
Ideas are important when you’re working on a project or goal. They’re the seeds that turn into actions. If you haven’t read it, check out my article on Where Do Good Ideas Come From?