Mind Maps: A Swiss Army Knife for Your Brain

In a recent post, I mentioned that I had created a mind map of my annual plan. This reference combined with several comments prompted me to share a few thoughts on mind mapping. It is an extremely powerful, multi-purpose tool. I’ve described it before as a Swiss army knife for the brain.

First, I want to acknowledge Tony Buzan. Based on my research, he is the father of mind mapping. I was introduced to the concept in his book, Use Both Sides of Your Brain. There were only two short chapters in this book about mind mapping; but it proved sufficient to launch me on a life-long love of the idea.
What is a mind map? Here’s my definition:
A mind map is a picture, a combination of words and images, that conveys an idea or series of ideas on a single page.
The map can be very simple or very elaborate. The one you see above represents my notes for a 6-hour workshop on creativity. Some mind maps can be nothing more than doodles on the back of a napkin.
As I begin writing this, I realized that it would probably require two posts to convey the concept. So, in the balance of this one I’ll talk about when you might want to learn more about mind mapping. In my next post, I’ll address some of the guidelines for creating one (Buzan calls them laws but I don’t want to be that rigid.)
A mind map can be used for four primary purposes:
Idea Generation – Mind mapping mimics the way the brain works. We tend to force our brain to think sequentially, but it reality, our mind functions in more of a radial fashion. Starting with a central idea, additional ideas radiate from the core and this process can repeat itself over and over. When we create a mind map, it always starts with a central idea/image. When mind mapping, you don’t rank, sequence or filter the ideas initially - the result, more ideas.
Note Making – I wrote a post about this a few weeks ago. Mind Mapping is a great tool to capture the ideas as presented by others and also the ideas generated by what we hear. The process engages the whole brain which helps lead to the next reason you might want to consider creating a mind map.
Memorization – Because the map itself uses key words, color, images and shows interdependencies, it aids retention and recall. I know a musician that creates a mind map of all his songs so that he can memorize them before his performances.
Presentation – This is a lesser used application, but I’ve had tremendous success with it over the years. I’m assuming you could do it different ways. Here’s what I’ve done - I’ll create a master mind map then remove the key words and images. As I present, I invite the attendees to fill-in-the-blanks and add their own images. Not only is it more engaging for the attendees, they leave the presentation with all their notes on a single, customized page.
So, you know what it is and why you might use it; in my next post, some tips on creating your own.[GLS_Shield]


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