How to use mind maps for better decisions

How to use Mind Maps? A complete guide

So many times in a day, we are stuck in a loop where we are no more able to think about something or find a solution to a problem. Our mind gets blocked and feels exhausted thinking about something. Problems seem to humungous and insurmountable. This is known as a situation of mind block, where your mind is unable to handle so much of the unorganized information in its database. It gets puzzled up and gives up on the problem. There, mind maps come to your savior.

Mind maps are graphical representations of your ideas and involve the technique of thinking on paper. It is a form of visual thinking. It helps to map out internal thought process in a way where it is easier for our mind to understand the data. Helps to find a workable solution to the problem.

During a research, it was found that our mind thinks in branches just as a tree-like structure moving ahead with every thought you have. If you don’t believe me then try it sometime, try noticing your thought process it’s totally haphazard with no direction to it.

Thinking on paper helps you to get clarity of your thought and makes decision-making process much easier. Mind maps being designed in the same way as your mind thinks results in better understanding of the issue at hand. Thinking on paper helps you to get a bird-eye view at all the branches of the thought and helps to analyze multiple aspects simultaneously. This is not possible when you keep all the thoughts in your mind itself.

What are Mind Maps?

  • Form of visual thinking;
  • used to map out the internal thought process; and
  • Acts as an ultimate thinking tool

Standard note taking is hierarchal in nature and usually done in some form of a list, making it difficult to capture everything being discussed or to show the relationships between related ideas and concepts. Wouldn’t you rather employ a process that allows for quicker note taking and provides a more logical method of review in the future?

The mind map isn’t about a rigid structure using formalized rules but rather capturing information that grasps the concepts and key ideas in a non-linear fashion. Mind maps are supposed to be fun to create and use.

Originated in the late 1960s by Tony Buzan Mind Maps are now used by millions of people around the world — from the very young to the very old — whenever they wish to use their minds more effectively. He has also written various books on Mind Maps.

How to create Mind Maps:

Tony Buzan on his website has provided following guide for to make mind maps and I think this is a really comprehensive guide to getting anyone started:

7 steps to Making a Mind Map:

  1. Start in the CENTRE of a blank page turned sideways. Why? Because starting in the center gives your Brain freedom to spread out in all directions and to express itself more freely and naturally.
  2. Use an IMAGE or PICTURE for your central idea. Why? Because an image is worth a thousand words and helps you use your Imagination. A central image is more interesting, keeps you focused, helps you concentrate, and gives your Brain more of a buzz!
  3. Use COLOURS throughout. Why? Because colors are as exciting to your Brain as are images. Colour adds extra vibrancy and life to your Mind Map, adds tremendous energy to your Creative Thinking, and is fun!
  4. CONNECT your MAIN BRANCHES to the central image and connect your second- and third-level branches to the first and second levels, etc. Why? Because your Brain works by association. It likes to link two (or three, or four) things together. If you connect the branches, you will understand and remember a lot more easily.
  5. Make your branches CURVED rather than straight-lined. Why? Because having nothing but straight lines is boring to your Brain.
  6. Use ONEKEYWORDPER LINE. Why Because single keywords give your Mind Map more power and flexibility.
  7. Use IMAGES throughout. Use arrows and charts to make connections between topics.

Benefits of Mind Mapping

Mind maps can be used for any thinking and learning task like studying a tough subject, planning career options or building better habits. At an outset, Mind Maps helps in:

  • Be a better decision maker. Mind maps help you to make a better decision as you can easily analyze multiple aspects of the same situation in a better way. Various questions for an issue like Why? What? How? can be answered simultaneously. That won’t be possible when you keep all the data in your mind.
  • Unleash your creative potential. Our mind has a lot of creative potential, but that remains unutilised because we don’t utilize our mind optimally. We keep it busy with other petty thoughts which end up consuming all of the energy of our mind. Mind Maps in a very simple way reduces the amount information that our mind has to process at a time to take a simple decision. Mind Maps helps you to be more creative by keeping less and less information in the mind.
  • Studies made easy. Mind maps help you to make concise summaries with all intricate connections among various topic and sub-topic in subjects. It gives you concise summary of the whole chapter on one page and let you understand it completely.
  • Brainstorming. Sometimes brainstorming is very important to take crucial decisions. Mind Maps can be used to take well-informed decisions and consider all the pros and cons of a situation alongside. It is mostly used in decision making related to important matters like career plans, what subject to take up for higher studies, what are job opportunities available, what are the costs and time involved in taking up a course.

Why it’s better than Liner Note taking?

  • Mind Maps use a visual method using images, arrows, numbers, and colors whereas liner note taking go the balck and white way and doesn’t allow that much liberty for a student to play with the general idea.
  • Mind Maps are really helpful when we are trying to connect various concepts and topics with each other. Generally, each and every topic or sub-topic is connected to some other concept. Mind Maps helps you to connect them in such a manner that they produce some valuable result.
  • It acts as an intuitive way to organize your thoughts so that some useful results can be derived from them. It acts as an extension to your mind and helps to generate ideas more swiftly.

Learning Fundamental in one of their articles has written:

Common barriers to mind mapping are time (“It takes too long”) and the perception of a lack of artistic ability (“I can’t draw”). But here’s the thing: I’m time poor and I can’t draw particularly well but I haven’t let that stop me.

You see, mind mapping is actually insanely easy to do and if you practice and silence your inner critic you can save a whole heap of time studying.

A student recently said to me –

“I thought mind mapping would take a lot of time to do but actually it saves me time because I don’t have to read my notes over and over anymore”

Pen and paper works best for mind mapping (not a computer or iPad)

Don’t get me wrong, I think technology is great but just not for mind mapping. When you mind map you want a sense of freedom to explore ideas. You don’t want to be limited in any way and you certainly want all your senses to be engaged.

As Luc Glasbeek offers –

“It [mind mapping by hand] provides more cognitive stimulation than, say, a smart phone which reduces our world to a sterile and odorless screen barely the size of a coaster. This is limiting, whereas creation should be about expansion and freedom and discovery and roaming. Paper doesn’t crash. Paper is quiet, paper is patient.”

Despite all technological advancements, when it comes to efficient learning I believe simple methods are the best.

Suggested Readings:

  1. Don’t understand something? Break it down with mindmaps — Learning Fundamentals Blog
  2. How to Use Mind Maps to Unleash Your Brain’s Creativity and Potential — Life Hacker
  3. Five Best Mind Mapping Tools — Life Hacker
  4. Tony Buzan’s guide to Mind Mapping
  5. Mind Mapping — Wikipedia

In case you have any question, please comment down below, I would love to answer all your questions.

Please share this post with your study buddies and help them study better and achieve better results.

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