HOW TO MAKE A MIND MAP IN
A mind map is a diagram with a hierarchical structure that is used for visually organizing and presenting information, thoughts or ideas’ – this is the definition that comprehensively elaborates the mind mapping technique, which today is practiced by many individuals and organizations.
However, there are many who are not familiar with the term and the technique ‘mind mapping’, so this extensive and thorough mind mapping starter kit is created for them, but, in addition, also for those who have heard of the technique but haven’t tried it yet.
The guide compasses everything, starting from details about the history of the mind mapping technique to help you understand, learn and explore the technique more in-depth. Additionally, it will also lead you step-by-step through the process of creating a powerful mind map.
How To Create a Mind Map in 5 steps
Create a Central Idea
This should be in the center of your page and can include an image or colour that fits with your Mind Map’s topic. This draws attention and triggers associations, as our brains respond better to visual stimuli.
Add branches to your map
The next step to get your creative juices flowing is to add branches. The main branches which flow from the central image are the key themes. You can explore each of the themes in greater depth by adding child branches.
The beauty of a Mind Map is that you can keep adding new branches and you’re not restricted to just a few options. Remember, the way your Mind Map spans out will come naturally as you add more ideas and your brain freely draws new associations from the different concepts.
When you add a branch to your Mind Map, you will need to include a key idea. Try to keep this idea as brief as possible; this will allow you to spark off a greater number of associations, compared to longer more complex phrases.
For example, if you include ‘Summer garden party in July’ on a branch, you are restricted to the aspects of the party you’ve already specified. However, if you split this into a few keywords (e.g. summer’ and ‘garden party’) you can explore more possibilities for each branch by adding a variety of different keywords. Some examples are presents, cake and gazebo.
Limiting words to key phrases on each branch also works well for chunking information into core topics and themes. The use of keywords triggers connections in your brain and allows you to remember a larger quantity of information.
Color code your branches
The overlap of such skills makes your brain more synergetic and maintains its optimal working level. Keeping these cortical skills isolated from one another does not help brain development, which a Mind Map seeks to do.
One example of whole brain thinking is color coding your Mind Maps. Color coding links the visual with the logical and helps your brain to create mental shortcuts. It allows you to categorize, highlight, analyze information and identify more connections which would not have previously been discovered.
Include visual signifiers (e.g. images)
Why is this important? Images are processed instantly by the brain and act as visual stimuli to recall information. They are also a universal language that can overcome any language barrier.
Using Mind Maps
Using mind maps for work is probably the most straightforward and easy to grasp application of mind mapping. Our work is usually a very structured activity all in itself, so introducing some more organization is a very intuitive process.
Don’t treat this like a comprehensive list of any sort, these are only examples. Mind mapping can be effectively used for anything you want and only your imagination is the limit.
Using a Mindmap as a Task List
Your task list is no longer just a flat list with some text — some people hate task lists because of that. By using a mind map, you can preserve the hierarchy and priorities of the tasks, nest them and reorganize easily. You can also apply different fonts and colors, or make hyperlinks. It’s your list, so you can organize it your own way.
It Involves Emotions.
With just one look your mind map can show you where you are. You can see it and you can feel it. Sometimes you can see that one of the projects is overloaded, that you have far too many delegated tasks, or there is one task that has been there since forever because the goal was not clear. With each completed task you can see your progress by simply noting how the “Done” section grows. It is great to look at it at the end of your week and be proud of that!
It Tracks Delegated Tasks.
I can often see that many people struggle because their task lists do not have the ability to track the task that was delegated to someone else. It is either marked as “Done” (I’ve done my part) or stays there, calling for action and making the picture blurry. Dedicated section for delegated tasks solves the problem and also keeps the list visual.
It Tracks the Progress.
Because there is a separate section for already completed tasks, you can see how this grows and feel good about it. With just one look you can see where you are and how much you have already accomplished this week, and it is much easier to write reports or summarize your work. These small achievements are your small victories.
It Calls for Retrospectives.
After one week, the “Done” section is probably quite large and this is the moment to clean it up. Of course you can simply delete the tasks that were completed from the mind map, but you could also spend half an hour, or even just few minutes, and reflect on them. Which gave you the most satisfaction? Which drained energy from you? What could you do better next week?
It Can Be Personalized.
Another great thing is that you can apply your own format to it. You may change fonts, apply different colors or add images to different projects. You may add icons to some tasks, for example when you think there is some risk associated with it. The mind map is all yours, when you think something can be done your own way, just do it!
8 Free Mind Mapping Applications & Web Services
This is one of the most popular free mind mapping applications out there, and that’s mainly because it’s in Java and thus cross-platform (and because it’s a great app, of course). This software implements some of the major features that digital task lists have over paper task lists: retractable and expandable branches and hyperlinking between different branches make it easier to organize and easier to connect ideas.
This is a free web-based mind mapping application. You can sign up for an account in order to save your mind maps, but better still, they don’t force you to get an account to start creating. The interface could use some work to make it a truly usable application.
This is another web app with varying account options; there’s a free account and several commercial options. It has a fairly nice design and interfaces in comparison with many other mind mapping web apps that are available.
RecallPlus is a commercial software with a lighter free edition. It combines the process of mind mapping with flashcard memorization techniques and is aimed at students who wish to take notes and then test themselves using them. RecallPlus is a Windows application.
Mindomo is another mind mapping web app with both a free account option and a commercial one. It allows you to share your mind maps with others, and also embed them into your web pages.
This is a totally free mind mapping web app, and it is one of my favorites. The interface is a good one, and it has some excellent features, such as easy navigation for large mind maps with zoom and birdview (and branch hiding, but that’s pretty standard these days), and the ability to attach notes and images to branches, which isn’t always allowed in “pure” mind mapping software. You can also link branches to other sites and see a preview when you roll over the link, which I think is probably the only appropriate use of those preview rollovers anywhere on the net.
WiseMapping is another web app for mind mapping which requires no browser plug-ins at all, which is fantastic when you don’t know which computers you’ll be using on a given day. You can share, export, and publish your mind maps from the app, and there is no commercial account option. Everything is free and unlimited.
This is a cross-platform application. It’s a commercial application, but a lighter free edition is on offer. I thought the integration of a calendar with events that you can add was a particularly cool addition and meant you could brainstorm in not just the conceptual realm but cross over into the earlier stages of planning as well.