Mind mapping, in general terms, is seeing the big picture. It’s held as an organizing or brainstorming tool by some, and others view it as a way to declutter the mind. It’s actually all of these things: a very effective method for getting your thoughts down on paper in a way that makes complete sense to you.
Since the fine details of mind mapping processes and the associated results are unique to the person, it’s usually a technique that can help everyone, no matter what their personality type is. It also brings the logical and creative sides of your brain together, which is a pretty amazing thing!
The technique of mind mapping can be very helpful when you’re feeling overloaded by pieces of information, as it can prevent you from forgetting things. You can use it to sort things out or make a plan, even when life is throwing a lot at you all at once. When you’re ready to get organized, here are three helpful hints for using the mind map technique to get your brain free of clutter.
1. Learn What Happens When You Mind Map
When you’re doing a mind map, both the right and left hemispheres of your brain are working together. This process uses many brain functions from both sides of your brain, including lines and color, emotion management, logic, numbers, listings, words and expressions, future planning and big picture thought.
All the activities make mind mapping a great brain exercise in addition to a helpful tool. When you’re able to get your stray and disorganized thoughts down on paper, you’re better able to think clearly. It’s very similar to how satisfied and free you feel when you’re finally able to clean and declutter your house the way you want to.
2. Know The Mind Map Types
There can be mind maps for everything, from personal life topics to work. A mind map for work, for example, may contain elements such as:
• Archives of completed tasks
• Tasks to-do lists
• A session of brainstorming
• Projects, including a breakdown of the individual project parts
• Action blueprints and plans
• A log of things you are waiting for from other people to complete the work project
• A list of resources
• Layouts for individual work elements. For example, if you’re a blogger, this could be layouts for single posts
Naturally, the mind map elements for work will vary by person, job, field and other factors. Your mind map should be tailored to your job as closely as possible in order to meet all of your needs. As long as you can read and understand it and how it relates to your life, it’s perfectly fine.
Personal mind maps can be made for everything from personal projects, like learning how to bake to workout goals and dieting plans. Whatever your personal goal or issue is, you can mind map it to help keep yourself on track and your mind clear and better able to think.
3. Try A Basic Technique
You will probably want to tweak your mind mapping process as you go to make it work the best for you, but for your first run, try a basic model on paper. Later, you can make the adjustments you want to the process, as you become more comfortable with it.
Starting with pencil or pen and paper, do the following:
• Write down your topic in the center middle of the paper and circle it
• Start branching out from that topic, without thinking too long or hard about it
• Add all the relevant categories and subcategories to the topic as you go along, mapping all of it out. Don’t worry if it gets messy. The point is to think freely, so it doesn’t need to be perfect or super neat
• Don’t get hung up on things being in the wrong spots. As you move along, your patterns will begin to show themselves to you, and the related thoughts will become obvious to you
• Keep in mind that you can adjust bubbles and thoughts as you go, making changes as needed
If you want, you can make a mind map rough draft, and then re-do it when your thoughts are most collected. This tends to be useful for bigger challenges, such as wellness. Remember to revisit maps for big topics so you can add related thoughts you have to it later. This way, that thought will be out of your head but not lost.
Mind Mapping Tips
To make your mind map even more effective, you can add in little illustrations, too, even if you don’t have artistic skills. Just a basic sketch will help your brain when you’re mapping and when you are taking a look at the map again later. If you have “quit drinking caffeine,” for instance, you can add in a little doodle of a coffee cup. Cutting down on TV time? Try a little sketch of a TV set. Remember that these should enhance your mind map and not distract you from its purpose, so don’t spend too much time on them.
Keep in mind that while mind maps are unique, each one starts right in the center and radiates outward, just like the branches on a tree. If you realize you’ve got more than one big topic on your mind, do more than one map, creating an individual mind map for each separate topic. The important thing is that each map’s categories and sub-categories are connected in a way that’s relevant to you. While cleaning, for instance, may not belong in a mind map for wellness for some people, it could belong on yours if clutter in your home is making you uncomfortable and anxious.
Don’t be afraid to use color, curved lines and other elements in your mind map. Colors stand out more to your mind and help wake up the creative areas of your brain, and they can also make the map easier to follow when you’re reviewing it later. Using curved lines instead of straight ones is more exciting to your brain and will also help when you’re taking another look at it later. Finally, try to stick to using three words or less per line. Single words are actually ideal, since these will give your map more flexibility and power.
You don’t have to limit yourself to mind maps with pen and paper, although these tend to be best when you need to start quickly or on the fly. There are mind mapping apps and software available that allow you to create maps on your PC, phone or tablet.
Start using mind maps today to help clear your mind, organize your thoughts and get more things accomplished. With mind maps, you’ll become more productive, and there are fewer things that will fall through the cracks. This powerful tool is simple, free and yours to harness!