How many times have we heard the phrase, “a picture paints a thousand words.” Have you ever stopped to think about what it really means?
This picture below (castle door image), can say so many things. And it is likely that we will have similar thoughts about it and there may possibly be some things that you see, that I don’t see. Most probably you could write a few paragraphs or talk for a few minutes about what is going on in that scene. What does this have to do with mind –mapping you might ask?
What is mind-mapping?
Mind-mapping is a graphic representation of thoughts that are floating around in your head. It is a physical way of mimicking what is going on in your brain. Our brains don’t necessarily like linear, straight lined ways of looking at things – they jump from one idea to another to another whilst the connections may sometimes be somewhat tenuous, nonetheless, there is still a connection. Mind-mapping takes those random thoughts and organizes them in a way that helps us understand a topic or come up with unusual solutions to an issue. (see pic of an example of a mind map)
Originally mind-mapping was used in business and project management environments as a way of brainstorming ideas and working out the facets of projects or ideas.
Why should you mind-map?
As a brainstorming technique, it can be highly effective way of generating lots of ideas on a topic very quickly and often at a subconscious level. It can be a very intuitive technique simply because it is based on free associations – ones that your conscious brain may shy away from, yet your subconscious brain sees the connections and points them out in non-linear and often helpful ways.
Who can benefit from mind-mapping?
The wonderful feature of mind-mapping is that it is a tool that can be used by almost anyone in a variety of situations and scenarios. It does not require expensive tools or equipment and is something you can do with probably what’s on or in your desk this very moment.
Business owners and entrepreneurs may find mind-mapping helpful in brainstorming solutions to problems or ideas for alternative income streams or identifying your ideal client or how to best market your product or service.
Individuals may find mind-mapping helpful in a variety of ways as well. You may choose to write down the name of a loved one and then write thoughts and feelings about that person or you may have a goal that you want to work towards and you’re stuck about how to achieve that goal – mind mapping might be the right technique to try.
Mind-mapping may be especially helpful to students or anyone learning new material. It is a technique that can be used in when taking notes or revising for study/ exams.
Writers and journal writers may also benefit strongly from mind-mapping. As a writer, you might need to flesh out a character or see how a plotline might unfold. Mind-mapping and it’s free associations may help you see aspects of the fictional character that you may not have discovered otherwise. Journalers may find it helpful as a starting point to inspire deeper reflections on a particular theme. For example having the word love as the centre point could lead to a myriad of possibilities including things you love to do, or things you would love to do in the future or what it means to you to love or a collection of people you love. The possibilities are limitless and through this process, you may go in directions you can not or did not predict.
What are the key components of a mind-map?
It can be useful to think of a mind-map like a wheel on a bicycle – with a central hub and spokes radiating from the centre. However, unlike a bike wheel, the lines and connections on a mind-map are not straight – they are curved, as our brains prefer curved shapes to straight lines.
Your key phrase/topic/issue is located in the centre of the page and from there, ideas radiate out. It can be useful to use coloured pens or pencils when doing this exercise as that visually helps to thematically link ideas and information. Doing doodles or including images may also be helpful for both inspiring further thoughts and aiding retention of information to your memory for later recall. Usually, mind-maps are made up of short phrases or single words – brevity is best. Depending on your topic or theme, you may also like to include numbers. One of the best things about mind-maps is that there really isn’t a wrong way to do them or wrong information to include – it is a very personalized style of representing information in a way that makes sense to you.
When is it helpful to mind-map?
There are a number of occasions where mind-mapping can be especially helpful. They include when you are:
- seeking clarity on a topic or theme.
- wanting to generate lots of ideas quickly
- working out the components of a complex task
- looking for lateral solutions or free association
Mind-mapping is an activity that you can do in 10 -15 minutes. When you have finished your brainstorming session, take another 5-10 minutes and reflect on what you see in your mind-map. There may be common words or themes or perhaps unexpected connections. Writing about these observations adds further depth and clarity to this process, thereby helping you reflect more fully on your chosen theme.
You might like to place your mind-map on the wall so you can revisit it or add information to it as and when you need to. Also, do remember that there may come a time when that mind-map no longer serves you – you’ve completed the tasks or solved the problem.
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About Kerri-Ann Sheppard
At the grand age of 8 years old, Kerri-Ann declared she wanted to be a writer. Over the course of the intervening years, where life took her on wonderful and challenging roller-coaster rides, writing has been a constant and her passion for words. Writing has been her go to, her therapy, and a large part of her work and her joy…essentially words are her thing.
Kerri-Ann is extremely delighted to now be offering and providing website content writing, proofreading, editing, content creation services to you. Drawing on more than 20 years of experience in professional writing, Kerri-Ann has the skills and tricks to make your writing shine.