This versatile technique is already used by over 250 million people worldwide for a variety of tasks including brainstorming, identifying new opportunities, organizing, managing projects, teaching, studying, communicating information and much more…
A Mind Map is a visual thinking tool that can be applied to all cognitive functions, especially memory, learning, creativity and analysis. Mind Mapping is a process that involves a distinct combination of imagery, color and visual-spatial arrangement. The technique maps out your thoughts using keywords that trigger associations in the brain to spark further ideas.
Mind Maps can be drawn by hand or using software such as Ayoa. When creating a Mind Map, there are several elements to consider including the map’s central idea, branches, colors, keywords and images. Let’s take a look at these now:
Create a Central Idea
The central idea is the starting point of your Mind Map and represents the topic you are going to explore.
Your central idea 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.
Taking the time to personalize your central idea, whether it’s hand-drawn or using software, will strengthen the connection you have with the content in your Mind Map.
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 theme or main branch in greater depth by adding child branches.
The beauty of the Mind Map is that you can continually add 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. Keeping the idea short allows 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 such as ‘summer’ and ‘garden party’ you can radiate out and explore more possibilities for each branch, with a wide variety of different keywords such as presents, cake, gazebo, etc.
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. This is supported by Farrand, Hussain and Hennessy (2002) who found that medical students who adopted Mind Mapping experienced a 10% increase in their long-term memory of factual information.
Color code your branches
Mind Mapping encourages whole brain thinking as it brings together a wide range of cortical skills from logical and numerical, to creative and special.
The overlap of such skills makes your brain more synergetic and maintains your brain’s optimal working level. Keeping these cortical skills isolated from one another does not help brain development, which the 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.
Colors also make images more appealing and engaging compared to plain, monochromatic images.
Include images & visual signifiers (i.e. emojis)
Images have the power to convey much more information than a word, sentence or even an essay. They are processed instantly by the brain and act as visual stimuli to recall information. Better yet, images are a universal language which can overcome any language barrier.
We are intrinsically taught to process images from a young age. According to Margulies (1991), before children learn a language, they visualize pictures in their minds which are linked to concepts. For this reason, Mind Maps maximize the powerful potential of imagery.