Top 12 Reasons I love to mind map

It’s no secret — I love to mind map. It’s something I’ve done for years — but just recently I’ve had many asking me how or why I mind map. Although I’ve been known to share my mind maps on social media — I’ve had an increasing number of people ask to see examples.

My mind has been known to overflow with ideas and thoughts — and the best way I record them is to write them all down in a mind map. I thought I’d pause to reflect on my personal mind mapping experiences to give you all a glimpse into the many reasons I love to mind map. So here’s a sneak peak into my mind — with the top 12 reasons I love to mind map.

“The Map to my Mind” – A creative project created in 2009 for Valencia’s faculty graphics art show. I was so immersed in mind maps at the time that I elected to doodle every thought that crossed my mind at the time. This is by far the largest mind map I’ve ever created at 36" x 36".

My first memories of learning to mind map came in elementary school when I was taught to plan ideas before writing. It seemed silly at the time, but was always fun for me to doodle on paper, rather than writing. Over time mind mapping grew on me. It became a way for me to release all of my ideas onto paper and in turn allowed me to think more freely and reflect on thoughts later. As life has gotten busier, it’s part of what keeps me sane.

Mind map created in February 2009 as I was organizing the many thoughts in my mind.

As designer and an educator, I have learned that mind mapping holds potential to help plan amazing ideas. In fact, it’s one of my favorite ways to help me conquer life. The reality is — life is busy — whether you’re planning a project, lesson plan, starting a business or need a to do list, mind mapping can help you plan and achieve goals. Although I typically try to create them when beginning new projects, I find I use them most often when my mind is chaotic and full of ideas.

When I find myself feeling as though my to do list is never ending I find myself mind mapping. This was created in April 2011.
A to do list mind map created in August 2011
Sometimes mind maps are rushed and may not make sense to anyone but me.

Perhaps it’s my creative side or the fact that I’m a visual learner, but mind mapping helps me think more clearly through ideas than if I were to just begin working without a mind map. It’s a great way to creatively brainstorm. I find mind maps not only let me step away from the computer, but they allow me to think more free and creatively about ideas.

Over the years I’ve used mind maps to help me write research papers, blog posts, plan projects, plan curriculum, create to do lists, create goals, plan survey questions, to complete tenure-track work, and more.

When I began my tenure-track work I was trying to wrap my head around the various aspects connected to the essential competencies we were learning. Creating a mind map helped me see how the concepts intertwined.
I have used them to help me creating surveys used in my tenure-track action research project.
I found mind maps helped me develop questions for surveys in my tenure-track work.
When we make big curriculum changes or create a new course I’m often mind mapping before creating a more formal outline. It gives me permission to just think about ideas – where no idea at this stage is wrong.

I didn’t always mind map as much as I do today. I still remember in my first college courses that required writing research papers I use to think mind maps were too much extra work and feared they’d waste my time. I use to feel so rushed for time that I’d just write. And then by my last research papers I had returned to using mind maps again and I have to admit — they ended up the easiest and fastest papers I had ever written. From that point forward I have found mind maps often are intertwined in the planning of so many things in my life.

I found jotting down the key points in a mindmap for a research paper on Andy Warhol made it much easier to organize my ideas AND easier to cite my resources.
My research paper mind maps were created on larger drawing paper. I would often leave them out on our table as I spent weeks reading and researching prior to writing my research paper. My kids loved to help contribute doodles to them.

Mind maps really have changed my life. My most memorable mind maps were created shortly after our youngest son was diagnosed with spina bifida midway through the pregnancy. The birth defect comes with many challenges and when we were presented with options for how to proceed with the pregnancy I turned to mind mapping. I mind mapped through tears as we awaited to see our son’s neurosurgeon with all the reasons we should continue or give up. That same day we met with our son’s neurosurgeon and I brought my notebook with me ready to present every reason I felt we should continue or give up. As we were so divided on what was best for our family — it was what helped me cope through the challenges we were facing. Many years later other parents now see this and I’ve come to realize my worries — are the same as every single parent faced with this diagnosis feels. This mindmap has since helped many other parents who are now struggling through this same decision. Mind mapping helped us make a really important decision that day — that despite our fears about the adversity our son might face due to his disability, that we could never give up.

Using mind maps to help make decisions, like whether or not to continue a pregnancy. I used this mind map to help me think about everything we were feeling and what we feared.
No one ever wishes to give up – but when you learn so much can be “wrong” it’s tough not to think about it. We found it so important to think about the pros/cons of this decision. These mind maps helped us realize giving up wasn’t an option.

I often spend time doodling and getting creative through some of my mind maps — it makes the process a little more fun. And even more fun to reflect on later.

A mind map created before a photography project completed for a local ob/gyn practice.

Mind maps are a critical part of planning in my world — and I’ve been known to open them up in meetings to help me sharing ideas. I’ve been known to be overloaded with ideas — and in the initial phases of projects and curriculum sometimes it helps to share thoughts a bit more simplistically without sharing a huge written report that may take many more hours to create.

This was created prior to SBACFL’s first Walk-N-Roll event and was shared during an initial meeting early on in the planning phase.
In 2013 I worked closely with a local ob/gyn practice to plan what was needed in their web site. This mind map was created before a more formal presentation was made.
In 2012 I was asked for advice on how to help doctors learn ways social media could help their practice. Before creating a formal presentation and meeting with doctors I used this mind map to help me make sense of the plethora of thoughts I felt they needed to consider.
Mind maps are often one of the first stages I take in any project, especially prior to the creation of a web site. This mind map was used in the beginning phases of planning the web site for the SBACFL non-profit web site.
I’ve found mind maps to help me planning workshops and classes – this one was created in 2012 prior to being asked to help present at a newborn photography workshop.

My mind maps may not always make sense to the rest of the world — but they help me think more clearly.

In January we had a 3 day weekend – a weekend that I had a few extra days to be productive. I created this knowing none of this would get finished in 3 days – but it helped me as my mind was full of thoughts. Over the years I’ve learned that highlighting my mind maps can help make sure I am conquering what I’m out to achieve.

I often get asked “how do you do so much?” I have to credit mind maps to helping me stay on track. They help me through creating to do lists and often become like a “checklist” to help me achieve my goals. I never realized it years ago — but now that I reflect on doing mind maps for many years — it’s fun to acknowledge just how much they’ve helped me set goals and achieve them.

If you ever find yourself feeling as though life is too busy, I can tell you its helped me stay organized.

Mind maps may not be a requirement in life — but they sure have proven to be a great strategy for me to help plan projects, classes, and achieve goals. Hopefully sharing this reflection with you all will inspire you to begin mind mapping.