Mind Maps

The human brain is very different from a computer. Whereas a computer works in a linear fashion, the brain works associatively as well as linearly - comparing, integrating and synthesizing as it goes. Association plays a dominant role in nearly every mental function, and words themselves are no exception. Every single word, and idea has numerous links attaching it to other ideas and concepts. Mind Maps™, developed by Tony Buzan are an effective method of note-taking and useful for the generation of ideas by associations. To make a mind map, one starts in the center of the page with the main idea, and works outward in all directions, producing a growing
and organized structure composed of key words and key images. Key features are:
  • Organization
  • Key Words
  • Association
  • Clustering
Visual Memory - Print the key words, use color, symbols, icons, 3D-effects,arrows and outlining groups of words
  • Outstandingness - every Mind Map needs a unique center
  • Conscious involvement
Mind Maps are beginning to take on the same structure as memory itself. Once a Mind Map is drawn, it seldom needs to be referred to again. Mind Maps help organize information. Because of the large amount of association involved, they can be very creative, tending to generate new ideas and associations that have not been thought of before. Every item in a map is in effect, a center of another map. The creative potential of a mind map is useful in brainstorming sessions. You only need to start with the basic problem as the center, and generate associations and ideas from it in order to arrive at a large number of different possible approaches. By presenting your thoughts and perceptions in a spatial manner and by using color and pictures, a better overview is gained and new connections can be made visible. Mind maps are a way of representing associated thoughts with
symbols rather than with extraneous words something like organic chemistry. The mind forms associations almost instantaneously, and "mapping" allows you to write your ideas quicker than expressing them using only words or phrases.

What is a mind map?

A mind map consists of a central word or concept, around the central word you draw the 5 to 10 main ideas that relate to that word. You then take each of those child words and again draw the 5 to 10 main ideas that relate to each of those words. In this way a large number of related ideas can quickly be produced with virtually no mental effort. The concept of 'writers block' is hard to understand once you have grasped the use of this
simple technique! What can you do with a mind map
  • Note taking As a means of note taking Mind Maps have several advantages over other systems:
  • You can place each new idea in the right place, regardless of the order of presentation.
  • It encourages the reduction of each concept to a single word.
  • The resultant mind map can be 'seen' by the eye and memorized by your visual memory which has been shown to be almost perfect.
Report Writing

A mind map lets you rapidly produce an almost infinite number of
ideas, and at the same time organize them by placing each idea next to what it is related to. This makes a very powerful tool for report writing, where it is very important to get down all your ideas first. It is then a trivial matter to read the mind map and write a sentence or paragraph on each 'key word'. Studying Instead of simply reading a book on some topic, next time try using a mind map while you read. Just draw your central word and then
begin reading, every time you read some idea that strikes you as important or interesting, just add it onto your mind map in the appropriate place.
When you have finished reading the book you will have a one page Mind Map which summarizes everything of interest in that book. You will probably also have added several things which you thought up yourself during your reading. The act of creating the mind map will have greatly increased how much you absorbed from the book, and if you ever want to review the topic all you need to do is to look at the mind map. If you want to learn the information very solidly then try to redraw the Mind Map from memory a few times. You will find it very easy. Studying as a group (or family) A group of people can work together to produce a single mind map by following these steps:
  1. Individually draw mind maps on what you already know about the subject.
  2. Draw a group mind map combining what you already know.
  3. Decide what you need to learn based on this group Mind Map
  4. Individually study the material, all covering the same areas for depth of knowledge or all covering different areas for speed as appropriate. Each person completing the mind map by his/her self.
  5. Again combine as a group and create a final master group mind map.
Families who have started regular weekend study days as a hobby have benefited tremendously. Children typically go from average or below average to second or third from the top in all subjects and the parents also find themselves excelling at work. One Swedish family was besieged by neighbourhood children asking if they could join in the fun! Meetings and Think Tanks As soon as you write something up on a white board you have
immediately lost the creativity which everyone has. So any creative meeting should always start by people spending a couple of minutes individually mind mapping. Then as a way of running a meeting a master mind map on a white board allows every idea or statement to be recorded and placed in an appropriate place so that it can then be discussed at a sensible time. Also no one feels ignored as all ideas are placed on the mind map. Giving a Talk
When giving a talk a set of notes in the form of a single mind map has several advantages over other memory aids:
  • Brief: Only a single page is needed
  • Not reading: As ideas are reduced to single words you will not be 'reading' your speech
  • Flexibility: If someone asks a question you can move instantly to the place on your Mind Map which relates to that question and then return to where you were without loosing yourself in a pile of cards or papers.
What can you do with a computer mind map Computer Mind Maps offer several major advances over the original paper mind map. These advantages should combine to make Mind Mapping as popular as it should be: Easy restructuring
You can easily restructure your mind map, moving words and trees of words around in seconds. This makes the computer mind map even better for quickly creating new ideas and ordering ideas into a meaningful structure.
Highlighting Using the style system you can instantly highlight different features of a complex mind map. E.g. you might make all the 'expensive'
options suddenly appear in bright red or all the 'good' ideas appear in bold underlined type. Comments Being brief and using single words is the key to a good mind map, but sometimes you need to write sentences of explanation for yourself or others. The computer mind map allows you to do this but to keep the extra information hidden until it is needed. This can
also be used for learning information, you should be able to recite the 'comment' information without looking at it, when you can do this you have 'learned' the contents of the mind map and only need the key words to bring it back. Presentation In this day and age it is not really acceptable to present your manager with a crayon drawing of your plans. A computer generated mind map gets past this problem by having the same high quality appearance as any other document. Export With a computer mind map you can instantly export the Mind Map to a plain text file, Microsoft Word or Rich Text Format, a web page, or Microsoft Powerpoint presentation file.
Mind Mapping Software The Software section of this web site contains details of some programs for Mind Mapping. These include:
  • MindManager - software authorized by Tony Buzan
  • Axon Idea Processor - a multi-purpose visual idea processing tool with capabilities for producing
  • Inspiration (Mac and Windows)

See also THE HISTORY OF MEMORY, Maximise the Power of Your Brain