Mind Mapping — A Multi-Use Thinking Tool for Everyone

Picture of Mind Mapping — A Multi-Use Thinking Tool for Everyone
SEE what you think. - Lois Farfel Stark

So, What Is Mind Mapping?

Mind mapping is a creative thinking tool that captures information in summary form through visual depiction. English educational consultant and author Tony Buzan codified the technique and trademarked the term in the 1960s. As Buzan states:

A Mind Map is a powerful graphic technique which provides a universal key to unlock the potential of the brain. It harnesses the full range of cortical skills - word, image, number, logic, rhythm, colour and spatial awareness - in a single, uniquely powerful manner. In so doing, it gives you the freedom to roam the infinite expanses of your brain. A Mind Map can be applied to every aspect of life where improved learning and clearer thinking will enhance human performance.

Mind mapping at its simplest requires nothing more than a blank piece of paper and a pen. You can get fancy with a drawing app on your tablet or use a computer app specifically for mind mapping (there are lots to choose from out there), and there are even websites that help you create a mind map without downloading an app. But, there's something satisfying and pleasurable about creating your own from scratch with your own two hands, your imagination, and a willingness to be playful. Plus, the low-tech approach is more immediate in terms of both a free flow of thoughts and speed.

How Do You Create a Mind Map?

Tony Buzan outlines 7 steps to creating a mind map.

  1. Start in the center of a blank piece of paper that is turned sideways (this allows your brain to branch-out freely in all directions).
  2. Use an image or picture as your central idea in the middle of the page (this is more exciting to your brain than just a word and allows you to concentrate and stay focused.)
  3. Use lots of colors (which stimulates into brain).
  4. Use connecting lines to link together your central image with the first, second, third, etc. level ideas radiating out from the center of the page (because your brain makes connections as it naturally links several concepts together - it works by association).
  5. Curve your branches when you link ideas (because a straight line is boring to the brain).
  6. Use single key words (this gives your mind more flexibility and power).
  7. Use images throughout where possible (because a picture is worth a thousand words).

The Process of Creating a Mind Map

In her article for lifehacker.com,How to Use Mind Maps to Unleash Your Brain's Creativity, Melanie Pinola describes the process of creating a mind map:

I use mind maps especially when I'm stuck on a problem or am facing writer's block... By starting out with the basic questions - who, what, why, etc. - and then following each thread, I'm more confident I'm not missing anything, and the ideas just seem to arise on their own.
Think of it this way. Imagine you were asked to write down as many uses for a brick as possible. Many people would just start listing all their ideas (building a wall, building a walkway, etc.). But what if you started from a broader perspective, such as thinking about the properties of a brick. It's heavy, so you could use it: as a paperweight, to hold down a garbage bag while raking, as an exercise weight, to grill juicer [sic] chicken, etc. It's also thick, so you could use it to prop up a planter or as a doorstop. It's red, it's hard, it's rectangular, etc. That's the magic of mind mapping: Once you start, the possibilities seem almost endless.

The Multiple Uses of Mind Mapping

In terms of bread categories mind mapping helps:

  • Note-taking
  • Brainstorming
  • Planning
  • Problem Solving
  • Decision Making

As Tony Buzan says:

When you use mind maps on a daily basis, you will find that your life becomes more productive, fulfilled, and successful on every level. There are no limits to the number of thoughts, ideas, and connections that your brain can make, which means that there are no limits to the different ways you can use mind maps to help you.

What do you think?

  • Will you try mind mapping the next time you need to study a subject, make a decision, or solve a problem?
  • Do you already use mind mapping?
  • What other uses for mind mapping can you think of?

Leave a comment!

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