This post was written by a guest author. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guest post guidelines.
In our daily lives, we all face challenges and accomplish difficult tasks to meet our goals, whether they are personal, educational, or work-related. When creating a plan to meet goals, you, like many others, probably create lists and schedules to remember your goals and tasks, and write outlines to organize your thoughts for projects and presentations. However, these traditional methods of organizing your thoughts and ideas may be limiting your potential.
Mind mapping software is used by many large corporations and businesses to improve creativity, collaboration, and productivity, and you can use it in your own life to reach the same results. Mind mapping is a way of visually organizing information and ideas on a map in a way that allows you to easily see complex relationships and patterns; mind mapping can be used for organizing schedules and projects, drafting plans and outlines, managing and sharing information, collaborating with friends and colleagues, recording notes, brainstorming and meetings, and many more purposes.
A mind map begins with a central topic, usually enclose in a circle or box, which can be a general category or a problem you are trying to solve. You can surround this central topic with smaller, related supporting topics and ideas that are connected to the central topic by a line indicating a relationship. Each of these supporting topics can be developed by adding attached topics and ideas. A developed mind map often looks like a “web” or “tree” of ideas, all connected to one another in various ways.
Mind Mapping is Flexible and Dynamic
Traditional lists and outlines create a sense of inflexibility. When I am writing an outline in text, my cursor is restricted to a current section and thus I feel a strong pressure to complete that section before moving on. Once I do move on to a new section of the outline, I am hesitant to revise or change the previous section because I was so careful and cautious when writing it. Making an alteration to a previous section, dismantling the apparent solidity of the text, seems almost like an invasive, self-destructive process. Often I ignore and fail to record ideas because they do not seem to fit into the current category I am working on.
The whole process I have just described is counterproductive way of organizing ideas! When using traditional text for organizing ideas, we are unnaturally restricting the intuitive and associative power of our thoughts to a linear structure, and by doing so we weaken it. Instead of feeling free to record new ideas and make new connections, we limit our mind to only one topic at a time and reject thoughts that might not seem to fit into the linear structure of the current topic.
In mind mapping, the situation is completely different. You can choose to see the entire network of ideas, with thoughts and information supporting and connecting to one another, each category with plenty of room for additional ideas and information. Alternatively, you can zoom in to focus on a single topic for careful expansion. This freedom allows you to develop ideas at your own pace, keeping your broader goals and concerns in mind as you develop detailed plans and processes.
Categories are flexible; if you find that a single topic is related to two different categories, it is simple to show that connection visually, by drawing a line or an arrow and adding a small text bubble to describe the relationship. The visual appearance of the map allows you to visualize connections between different topics that would be impossible using a traditional text-centered interface.
Mind Mapping Encourages Collaboration
If a friend or colleague sends you a list or outline of a project, it’s impossible for you to change it without appearing to damage the original in some way. If you want to add information to a section, you end up having to shift and reformat whole pieces of text. The unity of the blocks of text creates a sense of stasis and completion that discourages you from making changes and additions.
In contrast, mind maps invite expansion and collaboration. A mind map is never truly finished; the space between topics and branches allows you and your colleagues to add new ideas and information without disrupting the original map.
Integrate Documents and Pictures
Mind mapping is a visual medium, which makes it simple to include information like pictures, notes, and documents into your maps. For this reason, mind maps can be used to plan meetings and presentations. By attaching notes about timing and scheduling, you can use mind maps to manage upcoming events and plans.
Photo by MShades