Mind mapping was popularised by Tony Buzan and is one way to assist in the problem of:
- Keeping up with meetings because you can’t take notes as fast as the speaker talks
- Making sense of your notes at a later time (many people say they can go back to a mind map months later and understand the flow and intent of the meeting – and its outcomes)
There is no right or wrong way to create a mind map. Some people recommend using many different colours and drawing shapes – that’s OK for your own thoughts but usually too time consuming for note-taking in a meeting or interview. Rich pictures are an important way of enhancing the mind map to aid remembering at a later date. You will develop your own style and technique over time.
If you are using a note book, it is a good idea to use the unlined side of the page (lines can be distracting) and to keep the paper in landscape mode (we tend to draw horizontal oval shapes because it helps to write in the words).
We are after speed not neatness. Its’ beauty is in its simplicity.
- Start with a central idea or meeting topic in the centre of your mind map. From this central idea all the sub-topics will flow outward.
- As people present ideas and concepts, simply draw a branch off the main idea or sub-topic.
- An arrow from one item to another indicates that one idea flows from one item to another.
- Circle the idea, or draw a picture around it (like a star or square) to emphasize important points. If you feel like using rich pictures or writing a few dot points next to an idea do so. Mind mapping is designed to get you thinking from both your left (logic, fact) and right brain (feeling, artistic). The rich pictures keep the creative mind active while the analytical handles the notes.
- An arrow pointing both ways indicates the subjects are of equal value and relate to one another.
- There may be circles with no attached lines. That’s ok and simply means it’s a thought or topic in its own right and not necessarily related to the central idea. It may be an important idea, although off the main topic, and we don’t want to lose it.
Mind mapping software is also available – there are a few dozen available including:
- iMindmap has a free trial available
- Mindjet also has a free trial available
- FreeMind. The fully featured version is free with no restrictions
Before jumping onto the web and downloading an application, try mind mapping on a piece of paper. This helps your brain get into mind mapping mode without being distracted while you learn how the application works.
Once you’re comfortable using the mind mapping technique, it’s a lot easier to use a software tool and to see if it offers you any real benefits.
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