Mind map follow up

June 10, 2010
I've had a few people say they needed more direction on how to make mind maps.  Where do you start?  

First off let me say, you can't do it wrong.  How you use a mind map, as long as it works for you, is perfectly ok. I suggest just jumping in and start using mind maps.  I found the way I used mind maps changed as I used them over time.  I find now that most of my personal maps are pretty plain jane, very little color, few links, and I rarely use groupings, just straight boring mind map. But I do use color to make sure I see important items or points (or things I need to follow up on). I only use links when I have to.  And I use groupings only when I need to group really close ideas to each other that are in separate topics (and normally then only when I am going to share the map with other people).  But I know other people use color, links, groupings, images, etc.  Your choice.

I use mind maps for everything I use to write on paper. Since I have a mind map tool on my laptop and on my Droid (even on my iTouch) I don't carry paper anymore, everything is electronic. Meeting notes, projects, research, brainstorming, you name it it is in a mind map! 

I have attached a couple of examples, if they help you please feel free to use them.

Some other great resources:

Click here to download:

SWOT_Analysis.mm (2 KB)

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Mind Maps (or taking notes like your mind thinks)

June 4, 2010

In Grad school my classmate, Fish, turned me onto mind mapping.  I don't know if I would have made it through school without it. It really helped me organize my notes in a way it was easy to review and absorb, if that makes sense?  Finally I was now able to take notes closer to how I actually thought. And studies have show that mind mapping increases learning / study efficiency up to 15% over conventional note taking (1).  Since then I have been using mind maps at work and any other time I need to take notes or brainstorm.  

Mind maps are a way to group your notes into organized lists, well really clusters (see the image for an example).  It is not a simple list, you have nodes of ideas with a main idea or keyword in the center then you are able to link other thoughts around that central word. Then you can add concepts and thoughts around those new ideas. And on and on.  Most mind mapping tools allow you to move these ideas around and color code and group them. 

I also use mind maps when brainstorming, think of the ideation method of using sticky notes on the wall during brainstorming process, but now you can do the same thing on your laptop. It allows you to see connections, concepts and themes that you might not have seen in a prioritized list. It's more visual. 

I know other people use mind maps for other things too – Problem solving, prioritization, non-linear lists, etc. 

Some Mindmap tools I have used include:

FreeMind (good tool if you are just starting out and it's FREE!)
MindJet (great tool! and it has spell check, which I need, but kind of expensive, but you get what you pay for, right?)
Thinking Space (so I can do mindmaps on my Google Android Motorola Droid and they have cloud capabilities to allow you to move them from your laptop to your phone, very nice!)
XMind (my new favorite Mind Mapping tool and much cheaper than MindJet)
Personal Brain (works slightly differently than the other mind map tools I have used, don't know if I like it yet)
Mind42.com (online mind mapping software and allows you to convert from one MM software extension to another)

Notes:
1) Farrand, Paul; Hussain, Fearzana and Hennessy, Enid (May 2002). "The efficacy of the 'mind map' study technique". Medical Education 36 (5): 426–431.