A Mind Map is a powerful graphic technique that allows you to capture the natural flow of your ideas. It’s a way of organizing information that improves learning and promotes clearer thinking to take your performance to the next level.
Mind mapping originated in the late 1960s by Tony Buzan, mind maps are road maps that enable you to plan, make choices and let you know where you are going and where you have been.
They encourage problem solving by showing you new creative pathways, enable you to be extremely efficient, and let you see the whole picture and the details at the same time.
Mind maps are useful diagrams that are used in brainstorming. A concept or idea is at the center, surrounded by related concepts and attributes. Using a mind map will help you connect relationships between concepts and map out your ideas in an organized fashion.
It is especially useful when writing a story or other documents such as a thesis. It is a great visual aid for people to use who need to visualize and document their ideas. There are a variety of tools available in the market to create mind maps.
However, it is also fairly simple to create a mind map in a word processor from the packages such as Open Office, Office XP Abi word, etc.
Use these steps to create a mind map.
- Make a mind map by hand or by using free trial mind mapping software
- Start in the center of a sheet of paper that has been turned landscape style if you are making a mind map by hand. Place a word or image in the middle of the page that symbolizes what you want to think about (goal, problem or idea). This is called the central focus.
- Begin the brain dumping process to help stimulate new ideas and connections. Brainstorm all of the suggestions, recommendations and steps you believe you need to take to solve the problem or achieve the goal.
- As ideas emerge, print one or two word descriptions of the ideas on lines branching from the central focus. Allow the ideas to expand outward into branches and sub-branches. Put down all ideas without judgment or evaluation.
- Add sub-branches to a main idea. These can be thoughts or items related to a particular idea that you want to capture. Your brain works best in 5-7 minute bursts so capture any explosion of ideas as rapidly as possible. Key words, symbols and images provide a mental short-hand to help you record ideas as quickly as possible.
- Put your mind map away for a period of time (hours, days, etc); then review and revise as needed. Some of the most useful mind maps are those which are added to over a period of time. After the initial drawing of the mind map you may wish to highlight things or add information. For this reason it’s a good idea to leave lots of space.
Mind Mapping to Enhance Speed Reading
Increase your students’ reading speed and comprehension with mind maps. Reading experts admit that students who learn the principles of speed reading correctly become better and more satisfied readers. Mind maps enhance the learning of speed reading by encouraging students to quickly take in many words at once rather than one word at a time. The steps below explain how you can create mind maps quickly and effectively.
1. Start the mind map on a blank sheet of paper or blank document in a word processing computer program. Select a book or article to focus on. Place the title of the book or article within the text box in the top center of the document.
2. Tell students you are going to flash the mind map in front of them for a second or two before taking it away. They must read the entire title of the book or article within that brief moment.
3. Ask the students to write down the titles they read. Review their responses for accuracy. Continue practicing with reading titles only on the mind maps until students’ perception is correct each time.
4. Move on to using complete sentences on the mind maps. Select one or two sentences from the same book or article. Split the sentence into two or three text boxes on the mind map. Flash the mind map in front of the students, now instructing them to read the words within each text box as if they were just one word.
5. Test students’ comprehension of the sentences by having them explain in writing what they read. Encourage them to anticipate, also in writing, what they believe the following text they read might say.
6. Advance to creating mind maps with text boxes that contain entire sentences. Have students practice reading the sentences all at once, trying to assimilate the separate words into one main idea.
7. Complete the speed reading lessons with the most advanced mind maps. These have text boxes holding several sentences, clustered around one main idea. Encourage students to quickly read the text within each box, looking for the one main idea the text contains.
Mind mapping Guidelines
Get a large piece of paper and at least three pens, each a different color. Depending on the idea you are working on, pick one word that you think best represents it, or write a phrase explaining the idea or concept, in the middle of your sheet of paper. You can now draw words or images around your central idea. These words and images should be related to the central idea. Each word or image will have its own line that it will rest on. The lines will connect to either the central idea or to each other. You can use the different pens to identify different ideas or threads of thought in the mind map. The lines connecting the different words and ideas in your mind maps should create associations and promote new words that loosely connect to the ideas represented in your map.
Mind Mapping Advanced Methods
To improve your mind maps, remember to explore your own methods, experimenting while remembering what makes mind maps work. Use only one word to represent ideas. Using only one word does away with all the writing that may slow you down, getting in the way of free-flowing thought. Since you are sometimes working quickly when creating a mind map, print your words as opposed to using cursive, so that everything is easy to read. As you become better at making mind maps, you can begin connection ideas that are far away from the central idea, creating new ideas that get their own branches. Some people work with several pieces of paper to create large mind maps that grow larger as new ideas are generated.
Mind Map Techniques
A mind map is a picture used to show concepts arranged around a central idea. Use mind maps as documentation techniques in order to visualize the structure of a topic. A pictorial view allows you to summarize and consolidate complex information. Groups find the use of mind maps helpful in planning dependencies, organizing complex events, problem solving and generally making decisions. Mind maps can be created on paper, whiteboards or with specialized software.
Why Use Mind Mapping
- Drawing pictures helps you avoid linear thinking (which is not how your mind functions) that can be quite limiting.
- This technique helps you think more creatively so you can see relationships intuitively.
- Use mind mapping as a note taking strategy in academic and business environments as well as for personal productivity.
What You Do
- Start with an idea and draw it in the middle of a page. Then, write down words that relate to that idea. Next, make connections between the words and your original idea. These branches can help you view the possibilities without the restrictions imposed by a list or outline structure. For example, you can draw people’s names in an organization and make connections relative to particular topics to understand the flow of communication. This can uncover bottlenecks.
Or, use mind mapping to help you get more personally organized, for example, in planning a trip. You might put the phrase “Trip to Cape Cod” in the center of your paper. Then you might write down all the ideas you have in your mind associated with that, such as “Stop mail and newspapers,” “Make inn reservations” and “Buy new bathing suit.” Connecting those tasks and grouping them can provide you with an appropriate plan of action.
Impact on Learning and Memory
- You may find the resulting visual a useful index to a document, training materials or a research information repository. You may reveal relationships and dependencies previously hidden.
- This unstructured approach is proven to show structures that make sense, because it allows for associations based on connections of ideas consistent with the way your creative mind works, not necessarily in the order you may have been presented tasks.
- It may even trigger thoughts you had ignored or dismissed.
So, for example, in planning your trip, you may see that you can group your ideas into “before”, “during,” and “after” areas (and color code them) which may cause to recognize something important you may have forgotten such as “Make kennel reservations for dog.”
- This Mind mapping technique encourages you to use your imagination and creativity to the fullest, which enhances your ability to learn from your output as well as recall it later. For you, this technique may perhaps be even more successful in helping your remember details than mnemonics!