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  • Writer's pictureJerry James

The Basics of Mind Mapping

Updated: Feb 2, 2023

Mind mapping is a creative exercise used to explore ideas

Generated quickly using Milanote

I remember the first time I saw it at a project meeting. The whiteboard started off with the project being written in the middle and then each of us as department heads would add ideas and thoughts on how we would help with the process. The collaboration in that meeting was unbelievable. It was in a word.. mind-blowing. It has changed the way I think of project development ever since.

What do you need to mind map? One thing to remember, there is not a right or wrong way to mind map. This is a creative process and we do not want to slow it down by making a ton of rules.

The great thing about this process is all that you need is a piece of paper, a whiteboard, or anything else that you can use as a canvas. If I am the only one mind mapping, then I utilize my Bullet Journal. this has been my productivity partner of choice for the past 4 years. I tend to remember and focus on things that I write down.

The 3 core concepts to get you started. #1 – Place the central project, theme, or idea in the middle of your canvas. #2 – Now start to think of related ideas needed for the project or theme. Brainstorm, and add these ideas to your canvas. Place the ideas around the main theme. Do not hesitate or overthink. In most cases, your first thoughts were good and makes the most sense. Do not hesitate to throw anything out there, even if you decide not to use it. Utilize annotations to help with taking action.

#3 – Utilize lines, symbols,sub-themes or colors to connect and create relationships between the ideas Leave space for more ideas, thoughts, or notes. This is a living document. Develop your own style of mind mapping. The idea is to create an environment of creative thinking, feedback, and idea-sharing.

here is an example – building a dog house -square around the main theme, circle for the sub-themes, and then a number or highlight other important items.

If you have a team, then one of the digital mind mapping tools outlined next can help with collaboration. In today’s working environment, mind mapping software is crucial as many people are still working from home.

There are a plethora of digital software tools available. MindMup, SmartDraw, and Scapple just to name a few.

I use Milanote to organize my thoughts and ideas. Take some time and find out which tool would benefit you. Some of these options have a free option, so you can try them before you buy.

The Mind Mapping Software Blog did a survey and came up with some interesting data. The report will be available in the show notes as well.

  1. Busy executives (ever met an executive who wasn’t busy?) claimed mind mapping software helped them be 20-30% more productive in their work. That result hasn’t changed in the surveys over eight years, so it’s probably safe to accept it as solid data.

  2. A large percentage of survey respondents claimed mind mapping increases their creativity by 30%. When they were asked a related question about divergent thinking, 46.5% said that mind mapping helped them “to a large extent” to think divergently.

  3. Expert users said mind mapping software saved them an average of seven hours a week. Not sure how they determined expertise, but unless you’re using mind-mapping software pretty extensively, I think you may see fewer time savings. Saving time is the main benefit I’m trying to highlight in this article.

  4. And 78% of the survey respondents said that mind mapping software helped them present their ideas with greater impact.

This is my adaptation of one of our corporate walks at the store.

Why does Mind Mapping work? The reason that mind mapping is so effective is most of us are visually stimulated. We tend to take in visual data and information quicker and remember it longer.

Mind maps help stimulate collaborative thinking and that helps to generate new ideas.

Mind Mapping lends itself to providing a global overview when the project or theme is complex. This process does not allow for ideas or thoughts to get lost



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