‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ goes a popular idiom. Indeed, mere hearing doesn’t help as much as seeing. A mind map is a diagram used to visually arrange information. Mind Mapping allows you to use words to visually relate concepts and information in ways that are more enlightening than note-taking or outlining. A mind map is often created around a single idea and thought, drawn as an image in the center of a blank page. To this, associated representations of ideas such as images, words and parts of words are added. Major ideas are connected directly to the central idea and thought, and other ideas branch out from those. Mind maps can be drawn by hand, either as ‘rough notes’ during a lecture, meeting or planning session, or as higher quality pictures when more time is available.
Mind Mapping reduces the time it takes to develop a presentation, a report, an article, or a letter by approximately 50 percent! It allows you to use words to visually relate concepts and information in ways that are more enlightening than note taking or outlining. Here are the fundamental aspects of Mind Mapping:
1. Start with your central thought: Write the premise in the middle of a blank sheet of paper. Then list the first idea that comes into your mind. Next, note down any similar thoughts. As you exhaust ideas on a topic, move to the next idea. Note down related points. Repeat this process until you have exhausted all the thoughts and related points you want to cover.
2. Be free flowing: One of the models I use for the mind looks like a pinball machine. It can bounce around quickly to numerous ideas before it comes up with a logical conclusion. We have all had this experience at some point or the other – when someone tells you something, you pause for a few seconds and give a response which makes the other person exclaim, “where in the world did that come from?!” Thing is, based on what you heard, you were reminded of one thing, which led you another and perhaps that repeated itself again, and you finally blurted out what you did! For you, the thought progression was very logical, but the other(s) would be unable to make its connect to the original statement. Mind Mapping techniques accommodates this type of bouncing around better than either note taking or outlining.
3. Use only vital KEY WORDS: Often when taking notes and creating an outline, we use too many words. But most people think faster than they write! Did you know the human mind can think 1,200 to 1,600 wpm (words per minute) whereas most people can write freehand only 25 to 35 wpm. The best of us can type a little more than 100-110 words in a minute. The key concept is to think in bullets and jot down one or two words that capture the concept. This way, you won’t slow down your thinking.
4. Allow yourself to bounce around: You might be on your third or fourth key idea and, suddenly, you think of something that fits back with idea number one! Stop! Bounce back up, add the idea, and continue. Capture all that your mind throws out.
5. Feel free to connect things that relate: When two topics relate to each other, simply draw an arrow to connect them. You could draw the arrow in the same colour as the rest of the mind map, or with another colour to clearly highlight the intended connection.
6. Try short bursts: Time yourself for 5 to 7 minutes. Then take a break. Sit back. Look at your mind map. Do something else. Again, spend another 5 to 7 minutes adding, modifying and adjusting. Remember, Mind Mapping is your tool. Let it work for you.
Remember that a mind map is primarily for yourself, it’s not a concept map or a professional report. Use it to dictate or type the report. Ensure that all the elements you want in the report are there before you start.