Solve Problems, Study, and Brainstorm using Mind Maps
Are you inspired by taking notes in class? Probably not. When a lecturer spouts information at you, how do you record what you need to know and do it in a way that makes sense later without having to rewrite your notes entirely?
What if you have a problem you need to solve but don’t even know where to begin for all the thoughts racing through your brain?
What if you have a problem you need to solve but don’t have any thoughts racing through your brain and need to come up with something?
For all the above scenarios and many more, mind mapping is a technique that may help.
Physiologically, we don’t generally get excited about lists and bullet points. Lined paper, black or blue pen, and formalized ways of accomplishing a task are downright boring to our brains, and stifle creativity.
By contrast, our brain gets excited when it sees color, image, and non-conformity. Vision boards are a perfect example of how our brain reacts to imagery.
So by using techniques involving color, creativity, and imagery with mind maps, we can open up creative processes and allow ourselves to retain more information (study), and come up with ideas (brainstorm) more effectively.
Here are the basics:
Start With a Central Idea
Write this central idea in the middle of a blank piece of paper. As an example, let’s say you are mind mapping about…well….mind maps. Write “mind maps” in the middle of the page.
Brainstorm Keywords as Sub-ideas to the Central Idea
Draw in branches off the central idea (no straight lines allowed! – get creative) and write your one-word keyword sub-ideas on the branches. Possible sub-ideas to the “mind map” central idea may be “branches”, “ideas”, “pictures”, “creativity”, heck – even “dogs”. Don’t worry about your ideas making sense. Just keep drawing branches and writing in sub-ideas.
Elaborate on your Sub-ideas
Similar to a flow chart, you can elaborate on your sub-ideas by writing one-word branches off these ideas. As part of the “branches” keyword, I might insert “curves”, “words”, and “flow”.
Similar to opening up your creative genius with the 100 ways to change your life in 20 minutes exercise, this works best if you work quickly and don’t over-think the process. There’s lots of time to edit and re-work it if you want to later.
The old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” applies here. When you can only insert one word per branch, sometimes a picture may qualify your word. Besides which, it’s fun and makes the mind map interesting to look at (especially if it’s a resource for studying). The brain likes images.
Throw away the black and blue pens, and whip out the crayons and colored pencils! It is way more fun, and you’ll find that each branch will be easier to identify and work with if you use color themes.
For an article on mind-mapping, you are looking at a surprisingly dull and colourless page on your computer. I figured I’d leave it to the experts to illustrate how it’s done. Here are some resources on mind-mapping for you:
Once you have the basic premise of mind mapping down, experiment a little. Stop using an 8 ½ x 11 sized piece of white paper – use construction paper, larger sheets, or try painting a wall in your home or office with blackboard paint and turn your wall into a giant reusable mind map surface! Talk about inspiration…
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