When you are being creative and first thinking about something it can be difficult to write your ideas because a normal written page imposes structure. There is a sequence, a narrative flow. You have to chose which words best describe the thought. All of this can make a blank piece of paper intimidating. One great strength of mind maps is that they can capture your idea in a way that is closer to how you think about it in your brain rather than the finished document you might present to somebody else.
Why Mind Maps are Different
Your brain is a huge network of connected neurons and this gives it some basic characteristics:
Parallel Processing - You can think of more than one thing at a time
Senses - You are processing information from your sense all the time.
Recall - You can remember things. When you recall something the connections in your brain bring associated memories. So if you think of a place you have visited you can picture it, remember the smell the sounds etc. All of this is triggered just buy remembering the place.
Learning - the neurons and connections in your brain change with stimulation and use.
Functions - different parts of your brain are responsible for different functions. Only part of your brain is conscious. There are many functions in the brain that you are not conscious of but that support your consciousness.
Mind maps support the basic characteristics of the brain rather than getting in the way.
Parallel Processing - when you think about something, things just pop into your conscious mind and then they are gone. Something else pops in. When creating a mind map if something pops into your mind just, write it down, a word a picture etc, just enough for your to recall it again. Let things pop into your mind. Don’t worry about structure, cause and effect, the best words to use, just capture them.
Senses - capture things that pop into your head in all of the senses - picture, colours, emotions, smells, sound, etc
Recall - My experience will mind maps is that they are great for triggering a memory again but if you need to learn something, a string of facts, etc that there are better techniques. Mind maps are great for bringing back a thought process, triggers for other memories and sparking new ideas.
Learning - Mind maps allow you examine the map and to draw new connections between nodes in the map.
Functions - Mind maps can also be used to engage your subconscious brain. In creating the mind map you are stimulating your subconscious. Asking it for ideas. One feature of the subconscious is that it appears to have no direct link to time. Ideas from your subconscious just surface. This may occur immediately, or in a day, or month later, when you are having a shower, travelling to work, etc. The really important thing it to capture the idea when it surfaces. Carry a notebook or something else you can quickly capture the thought in.
Meetings and Presentations The important thing to realise here is that you are not trying to make a transcription. What are the key ideas, facts, or points as a memory jogger? If you have a point to make in a meeting but no immediate chance to talk. Then you can use a mind map to jot down the idea and use it reminder.
Some problems you cannot solve yourself. You need a new angle, new skills, other people’s help. You can also play with time. Put a problem aside for a while. When you came back to it you will have a new perspective, your emotional state will be different.
How to use the Meeting Mind Mapping Template
To use it for a meeting:
1. Write the main idea in the center box.
2. Write each agenda item in the circles linked to the outside of the main idea.
3. As the meeting progresses, draw lines pointing to sub-thoughts, ideas, facts and figures.
4. Draw pictures and interlink items with or without arrows.