Try the mind map tool to structure your thoughts!
My brain is constantly filled with to-do lists, due dates, 1-million dollar business ideas, the book recommended by Tim Ferris in his last podcast, the response to that whatsapp message I haven’t sent yet, the expiration date of the halloumi cheese in my fridge, the number of socks I have left before having to do the laundry… it’s busy up there in my mind.
And sometimes it’s so overwhelming that my brain crashes and can’t think properly anymore.
About a year ago I took a leap of faith and changed jobs completely. I went from being a packaging scientist, a very well defined role to becoming a community manager/change manager/movement leader and help drive the digital transformation of my organization (what does it even mean?). Needless to say that I had a lot to learn, and fast! When someone would ask me to describe my job I would actually find it extremely difficult to answer. And because I have learned so much in such a short time, it was very chaotic in my mind. So I have put everything down in a mind map (see picture).
I found it useful to see how different aspects of my job worked together, how I could combine some activities, it helped me identify the areas to prioritize and helped me articulate what I do in a clearer way. And first and foremost, I just love how it looks!
What’s a mind map?
“A mind map is a tool for the brain that captures the thinking that goes on inside your head. Mind mapping helps you think, collect knowledge, remember and create ideas. Most likely it will make you a better thinker.”
Although the term “mind map” was first popularized by British popular psychology author and television personality Tony Buzan, the use of diagrams that visually “map” information using branching and radial maps traces back centuries. These pictorial methods record knowledge and model systems, and have a long history in learning, brainstorming, memory, visual thinking, and problem solving by educators, engineers, psychologists, and others. Some of the earliest examples of such graphical records were developed by Porphyry of Tyros, a noted thinker of the 3rd century, as he graphically visualized the concept categories of Aristotle. Philosopher Ramon Llull (1235–1315) also used such techniques.
Buzan suggests the following guidelines for creating mind maps:
- Start in the center with an image of the topic, using at least 3 colors.
- Use images, symbols, codes, and dimensions throughout your mind map.
- Select key words and print using upper or lower case letters.
- Each word/image is best alone and sitting on its own line.
- The lines should be connected, starting from the central image. The lines become thinner as they radiate out from the center.
- Make the lines the same length as the word/image they support.
- Use multiple colors throughout the mind map, for visual stimulation and also for encoding or grouping.
- Develop your own personal style of mind mapping.
- Use emphasis and show associations in your mind map.
- Keep the mind map clear by using radial hierarchy or outlines to embrace your branches.
As with other diagramming tools, mind maps can be used to generate, visualize, structure, and classify ideas, and as an aid to studying and organizing information, solving problems, making decisions, and writing.
Mind maps have many applications in personal, family, educational, and business situations, including notetaking, brainstorming (wherein ideas are inserted into the map radially around the center node, without the implicit prioritization that comes from hierarchy or sequential arrangements, and wherein grouping and organizing is reserved for later stages), summarizing, as a mnemonic technique, or to sort out a complicated idea. Mind maps are also promoted as a way to collaborate in color pen creativity sessions.