How to Use Mind Maps to Organise Your Ideas

We all have our own ways of breaking down and processing information. If you are a visual learner, then a mind map can be an effective method for you to break down a given set of information and absorb it. It is a great tool to develop an idea or solve complex problems as it gives you a bird’s eye view of the entire picture.

It allows you to make better connections or develop branches, dealing with the issue as a complex whole. In fact, there is a legend that goes on to say that Pixar made four of its best movies (A Bug’s Life, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, and Wall-E) because 4 of its writers and directors used a mind map for their brainstorming session on a lunch napkin!

What exactly are mind maps?

Think about it. Every great idea first begins with making it real and physical by putting it down. It becomes so much more tangible and easier to work with. So mind maps are a very visual way of putting them down. You can use words, numbers, images, colours, lists, or whatever you need to create a full picture.

As a concept, it was invented by Tony Buzan in the 1960s. You are essentially building the framework of an idea, looking at all its complexities and interconnections. It can be a solo or team activity and can be used for all types of tasks. You can use it to learn, revise, strategise, pitch an idea, or even plan your wedding.

How are mind maps better than lists or notes?

The answer is quite simple. Lists or notes can become too long and there’s an implied sense of hierarchy when it comes to lists. The one on top is deemed more important. In the same way, organisation is fairly unidirectional when it comes to notes. A mind map will allow you to see fresher connections.

Creating a mind map

The process is quite simple, whether you are doing it physically or digitally. (There are tons of websites/ software available to help you build them digitally: XMind, MindMeister, Canva, Mindmanager, SmartDraw, ClickUp, LucidChart, and many many more.)

  • You begin at the centre with your central idea. Write it in the simplest of terms.

  • Create your branches. It could be the various domains under it, the different problems you have to solve, how different parts of the world respond to it, or any such branches. They would essentially be your primary branches. So, for this article…

  • Go deeper. Create as many sub-branches and related topics as you need. You can even list key points under each sub-branch. You can include references, links, images, ideas, or whatever you need to further concretize your main idea.
  • Revise and edit. Once your framework starts taking shape, you revise, edit and keep polishing your idea.

Remember, there is no one “right” way to do a mind map. You do it in the way that is most conducive and appealing to you. That way, a digital one has a slight advantage as you can edit and re-do just the parts you need.

In Conclusion…

Mind maps are extremely beneficial when you are dealing with volumes of data. They help you memorise better, inspire creative thinking, and aid in problem-solving. Whether you are preparing a college project or managing your team, mind maps are scalable to suit your needs. And remember, you don’t need to be an artist to do your mind maps. You just have to frame it in a way that is most appealing to you.

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