If you find yourself completely overwhelmed with the tasks and details of one project, school work, or program that you have to stay on top of, or if you are constantly confused about which task or assignment to prioritise in order to maximise activities and avoid stagnation among your team members, there is a powerful, efficient, and effective—yet very simple and comprehensive—technique to reduce mix-ups, maintain a smooth and steady activity flow, and increase productivity like no other: mind mapping.
Now most people would cringe at the thought of having to add yet another task in order to organise the details of a specific project—who wants additional work, right? But try using mind maps for your problem-solving team sessions, studying, or even note taking during classes or meetings, and you will be surprised at how you can retain information better and avoid mix-ups.
Visual Brainstorming Tool
Mind mapping was developed by psychology author Tony Buzan, who first used the term “mind map” in his popular show “Use your Head,” during the 1970’s. Unlike the usual visual ‘outlining’ that most subscribe to, mind maps have a creative, graphic, and radial characteristic that makes the information easier to comprehend, memorise, and classify.
Think of it this way: if you’re a student taking notes in class, the usual way of jotting down would be to write the details and data that you’re trying to assimilate from left to write, up to down, and maybe you’ll put in some bullets and numbered enumerations to help you remember things quicker when you study for that big exam. It’s like taking the information, and lining them up like little ducklings and ducks, hoping that you’d remember each and everyone’s name, which one is older or younger by the order they’ve been hatched, and which one to feed first, and how much to feed.
Too much? It can get a little overwhelming if all the ducklings and ducks look exactly the same, and if every single one is vying for mama duck’s attention.
Try mind mapping on the same conceptual farm. In mind maps, all the details, information, and data are organised in a radial pattern, with a main idea or subject matter in the centre of the diagram—say, the mama duck.
Then, branch out to the subtopics or ideas that directly follow your ‘mama duck’ idea, based on importance or generality—your older ducklings. From there, you can add more and more branches, going more in depth into your topic, until the smallest and most minuscule ‘duckling’ is taken cared of. You now have a visual representation all of your gathered information, quacking at you according to importance.
What’s great about mind mapping is that you can be as creative, colourful, graphic, and detailed as you need to, or want to. Some recommend using different hues for different branches to further distinguish them from one another. Some use colour blocks for each and every subtopic or idea for better memory retention, and some even use photos or drawings to represent their keywords or subcategories. Whether you like using shapes and symbols, or using wavy or squiggly lines for branching out your ideas, mind mapping takes better advantage of your cortical skills, and makes it easier for your brain to process and keep information.
Trying it out
Mind Mapping has got to be one of the simplest yet most understandable visual diagrams to make. If you’d like to have a hand at making one for a brainstorming session in the office or outlining a narrative for your school paper, making a ‘traditional’ one is pretty effortless. All you need is a piece of blank paper, some colourful pens, maybe some stickers or shaped paper if you’d like, then start mapping away!
Most companies and organisations are also starting to incorporate mind mapping into their conceptualisation and development processes and systems. Nowadays, specialised mind mapping software are made available for personal and commercial use, for a more powerful and productive project organisation and activity progress supervision and evaluation, such as