Tuesday, April 19, 2011

3 Ways to Use Mind Maps

I recently picked up a copy of The Mind Map Book, mostly by accident. I was looking for memory books in a Half Price Bookstore, and came across it in the Memory section. It is written by one of the most prolific authors on memory, Tony Buzan, but it is a departure from some of his other memory books.

Mind mapping is essentially brainstorming on paper, but Buzan has really applied this simple technique to multiple arenas. Mind Maps can be used to help make decisions, take notes, give presentations, organize complex data, and much more.

It is surprisingly simple and easy to use, but there is a lot you can learn from it. Your brain will do most of the work for you once you get started, and you will be surprised by the associations you will make beween different ideas.

For authors, there are three main ways I would suggest using Mind Maps:

1. Outline books you have read. This is a great way to have a "bird's-eye view" of an entire book. You can fit an entire book on one page, and it will have almost too much information. Very helpful if you make one of these for each book as you read it. Not only will you remember the material better, you will be able to refer back to your map to refresh your memory.

2. Brainstorming writing ideas. I always urge authors to come up with new ideas, but it can be difficult. Using Mind Maps, you should be able to brainstorm a lot of ideas quickly. The goal is to come up with a new category or a new idea, and be the first author in that category. After all, if you are first, you are the best by default. Use the Mind Map to find more ideas than you will ever be able to use.

3. Outlining your book. Use a Mind Map when you are doing your initial outline of your book. This will help you organize your data better, see associations you missed before, and spark new ideas. It will also help you break down your book into small chunks to write on. It is much easier to break down your book into smaller parts to get your writing started; sitting down to write 300 pages at once is daunting for anyone.

Example Mind Map

Use these links to find Mind Map material online. I highly recommend picking up The Mind Map Book.

Wikipedia Definition
Free Online Mind Map creation - limit 3
Mindtools Info

See my first mind map here. Have you made any mind maps? What do you find them most useful for?

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