Have you ever mind-mapped? The more I’m thinking of this term, the more surreal it’s sounding, I’m in one of those moods. So say ‘mind map‘ with me 10 times fast and now let’s get onto mind mapping.
What is Mind Mapping?
If you have not heard of it, mind mapping is a totally simple and awesome way to brainstorm and get a TON of ideas out onto paper (or the computer) in a short amount of time. I’ve used mind mapping to churn out blog post ideas like crazy, and it works for anything you can think of that you need to organize in a visual way. It’s where organization meets messy visual flow.
In it’s simplest manifestation, you would take a pencil and paper, and draw a circle in the center with a main idea written in it. Then you draw a few lines shooting out of the main circle and draw some more circles. Inside those you break down the main idea further. You can shoot circles and lines out of those circles, too!
You can use this technique in tons of ways: studying for tests, forming an outline for writing a book or article, even just trying to figure something out by breaking it down as far as you can take it. It helps to focus your mind while at the same time allowing you to empty out all the information you have swimming around in there on a specific topic.
I’ve seen mind mapping software, templates, apps, etc all over the place, but I prefer the pencil and paper approach. There’s something fantastically freeing about taking pencil to paper and covering the hell out of the surface. I’m trying to give my eyeballs screen-breaks as much as I can and this is the perfect time. If you want to stay digital, here’s a list of the 15 best (online) mindmapping tools.
James Altucher talks a lot about the power of ideas. In Choose Yourself, he talks about ‘ideas’ extensively, going so far as to say that we should put aside time each day to write down at least 10 ideas. You don’t stop there- he goes on about becoming an idea machine, but you start with those 10 ideas. I think pulling a crisp mind map off the top of a pile you have printed out would be a pretty good way to get your ideas onto paper. Especially since ideas usually breed more ideas, and they don’t always come out in a linear fashion.
I have used printed mind maps I’ve found online, and I visited a mind mapping site once, but immediately hated the idea of doing this on my computer. I decided to come up with my own printable mind map, because I didn’t like any of the other pre-made mind maps out there, and I wanted a tiny bit more structure than starting my own up from scratch every time on a piece of blank paper.
Mine is different than the other mind map printables in that it starts you out with your main circles, but you can draw your own lines to whichever circles you want to connect. First off, if you physically draw a line or arrow from one circle to another, you are immediately transported to a boardroom presentation fantasy, where you are poised in front of a giant white board, your brilliant ideas FLYING across the board, jaws hanging open in anticipation of your every word.
Second, what if you want to connect one circle to another that isn’t right next to it? Or you don’t have enough secondary ideas to fill three circles, but you have an extra little idea that holds its own and needs a circle?
Look at the mind map I filled in as an example. This was modified slightly from when I was first starting out trying to figure out what sorts of art projects for kids I wanted to explore, and how.
Want to try it yourself? Here’s a free printable that you can download and print out and use until your mind is completely empty and the tumbleweeds begin to roll around in there.
Let me know how you like drawing those lines between the circles.
6 thoughts on “A Mind Map for You to do Some Mind Mapping With Your Mind”
I have never heard of this technique, but I think it would really help me organize my thoughts and come up with new subjects to write about. My son said they use this in school sometimes but it doesn’t help him. I think he’s just being a brat. Because this is genius! I think I’ll start with my own circles, though – it would drive me crazy to not be able to fill in all the pre-printed ones.
Okay, but remember, you can always fill in the extra circles with smiley faces. I think it’s cool that your son learned it in school – love this technique a whole bunch. Let me know if you dig it.
This is BRILLIANT!!
I need to do this.
DO it, do it, cha-cha-cha. Do it, do it rah-rah-rah. If you do, let me know if you like it or not- I’ve never heard from anyone who didn’t fall in love with it!
Our school psychopedagogist (in Spain, like a counselor I guess) suggested we tried this for our 9 year old. She is a “visual and auditive learner” so we’ll give this a try with her science lessons. Sure looks promising enough! Thanks for the post.
I just love doing these- I’m a visual learner as well- and it feels like you’re just really organizing everything so easily when you write it all out on a piece of paper like this. After you do it a few times, it become second nature to want to lay everything out on mind maps. How cool that the counselor suggested this!