How to use Mind Maps

Mind Mapping is a simple but powerful technique that can help you to learn more effectively, improve your memory, come up with new creative ideas, and enhance your problem solving abilities.

Mind Maps help you remember information more easily, as it is presented in a format that your mind naturally finds easier to encode and recall. This is because in addition to the key information being presented you can also see the way that information fits together and so understand the structure of the topic.

They are used for Brainstorming, learning, note-taking, presenting information, and as a tool for working through complicated problems.

What are Mind Maps?

Although Mind Maps have actually been around for a long time, they have only reached the wider public consciousness since being promoted by Tony Buzan.

Essentially a Mind Map is a diagram that when completed looks something like a cross between a bicycle wheel and a spiders web. Your central topic or theme is placed at the centre, with spokes or threads coming off to represent each sub-topic or area that you also want to consider. This allows you to break large projects or topics down into smaller, more manageable chunks, so that you can plan effectively without getting overwhelmed and without forgetting something important.

A good Mind Map shows the "shape" of the subject, indicates the relative importance of the individual points, and the way in which these points and facts relate to each another. This means that they're very quick to review, as you can often refresh information in your mind just by glancing at one

This structure also means Mind Maps are much more efficient than conventional notes, often taking up only one side of paper. This helps you to spot patterns and easily make associations between different areas. Which in turn means you are much more likely to come up with good creative ideas. Plus if you find out some further pieces of information after having drawn out your Mind Map it is easy to integrate it in just the right place.

How to draw a Mind Map

1. Start by writing the title of the subject you're looking at in the centre of the page, and drawing a circle around it.

2. Next add any major subtopics or important related areas, by drawing lines that radiate out from this circle, and labelling each one as one of the subtopics.

How to use Mind Maps

3. Dig a little deeper into each of these subtopics, by adding in further smaller lines extending out from the end of each topic line, like branches on a tree.

4. Continue breaking down each heading further, until you have the individual facts or ideas, draw lines out from the appropriate heading line and label them

Tips for using Mind Maps

Once you are familiar using the Mind Map technique here are a few suggestions you can use to make it even more effective:

Use Single Words – In everyday conversation, a lot of the words we use are really nothing more than padding, providing a general context for the key ideas. When creating your Mind Maps, you can miss out all this padding and just use single words that represent the key ideas. Remember the context is already given by the structure of the Mind Map.

Use Colour – Add in colours to link related ideas together, this will help provide associations between related concepts that might be on different branches. It also helps you to visualize the Mind Map which makes it much easier to recall.

Use Images and Symbols – ‘A picture paints a thousand words’ is the idea you’re after here, you can often convey concepts that might take paragraphs of text to explain with a single image or symbol. Use these to make your Mind Maps more powerful, by containing more information.


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