Mind map the shit out of everything

Mind maps are an incredibly useful tool to kickstart any idea or project.

A mind map is a simple diagram that lets you organise information in a visual and hierarchical way. It’s based on nodes or groups and—most importantly—it’s non linear, an unordered visual list.

Scan of the mind map diagram used for writing this article
My mind map for this article. A mind map about mind mapping.

Why mind mapping?

The purpose of a mind map is to organise your thoughts in a hierarchical and structured way. It gives you a comprehensive overview of all the components.

These components or nodes can (for example) become chapters in the book you’re writing, sections in your presentation, navigation links on your website or steps in the recipe you came up with. You can put them in order or on a timeline later on (don’t do it straight away!).

Most people tend to think linearly and that limits the potential of their work. Jumping straight into programs like PowerPoint or Word—which are linear by design—is so restrictive. Start offline, start with paper first.

The purpose of mind mapping is to explore, understand and break down complexity, not to create ordered steps.

If linear thinking generates road blocks (which it often does); mind mapping gives you the building blocks.

How do I Mind Map?

  1. Grab a piece of paper (A4, A3 or bigger, give yourself space) and a marker or a pen;
  2. State the purpose at the top. What do you want to achieve?;
  3. Name your project; a descriptive name will do nicely. Write that down in the middle of the piece of paper;
  4. Ask yourself how you would split up this theme, this project, this idea. Think about all these main components and write them anywhere around the title on the piece of paper. Connect these to the title with lines;
  5. Do any of these sections have sub-sections? If so, write them around their relative section and connect them with a line;
  6. Keep digging until you’ve squeezed your mind and extracted every single bit of information related to the topic.
Digital mind map for my creative repository

Mind mapping lets you spit out all of your knowledge related to a specific matter into useful and usable bits of information. Once you’re aware of all these sections, you can then put them in order on a timeline (a slide sequence in your on-screen presentation, chapters in your book and so on).

It’s a great tool when you use it independently, but also a really valuable exercise when used collaboratively. Digital online mind mapping tools (such as Whimsical) are great for cooperating with someone else remotely.

Try it out and let me know how you go!

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Matteo

Matteo

Creative Director at Headspin.