Mind maps are a cool and innovative way to approach new ideas. If you feel that you work best with a visual component, or if you are the type of person who likes to plan for every eventuality before beginning something new, then a mind map might be a really helpful tool for you. Essentially, what mind maps allow you to do is visually outline information or plans by drawing a diagram.
If you have ever written a simple “pro vs. con” list, then you have already made a basic mind map. What you did there was begin with a central idea such as “Buying a House”, or “Moving to Another City”, and tried to think ahead to anticipate some of the benefits and risks. Mind mapping does not necessarily need to be more complicated than that, but naturally, there are all types of diagrams you could use with varying degrees of specificity. Let’s take a look at some of the different mind map examples which might be helpful to you.
Mind Maps for Planning
Okay, so you have a goal in mind. That’s great! Goal oriented thinking can be a very positive force in your life, and it is always good to keep self improvement at the forefront. The problem is, how are you going to get there? Sometimes the reason we fail to reach our goals has a lot to do with the fact that we simply did not plan correctly. It’s all well and good to have a goal of “Get that promotion at work”, but what are you going to do to ensure that happens?
This is where a planning map would be helpful to keep you on track. Write that goal nice and big in the center of your paper. This is the ultimate destination, and everything you plan out should be leading back to this central point. Now, begin to think about the things you will need to accomplish immediately prior to that goal, and put them close to the center of the paper.
Continuing with the example of getting a promotion at work, some things you may need to do immediately prior to that is “Complete Self Assessment”, “Formally Request Promotion in Writing”, and “Begin Training for New Position Proactively”. Those are all things that you may not be able to begin right away, but they are definitely still crucial steps to take. That is why they are written close to the goal.
In the meantime, begin planning out steps you can take sooner, if not right away. Some ideas might be “Let Boss Know I am Interested in the Promotion”, “Find Out Everything That is Required for the Job”, and “Brush Up Any Necessary Skills”. These steps can be further towards the edges of your paper, because they are the furthest from the end result, but closest to your situation right now. As you complete the outer objectives, continue moving inward until you reach your goal.
Problem Solving Mind Maps
Sometimes, the situation you are facing is blocked by some kind of obstacle. In these cases, it can be especially important to plan ahead as much as possible. Your goal should be to anticipate as many potential issues as you can, and see if you can avoid them along the way.
The first step when using this style of mind map is to state the problem or question as you understand it. For example, “Car Trouble” might be what you are facing right now. Write that out on your paper, and draw arrows extending out from it asking the questions “Who?”, “What?”, “Where?”, “Why?” and “How?” As you follow these question paths, see how much information you can write about the situation, and if any of it can lead you towards a solution – in this case “Working Car”
In the case of car trouble, the “Who?” might be answered by things such as “Local mechanic”, “Car dealership”, and “Friend with automotive experience”. The “What?” might be “Flat tire”, or “Transmission trouble”. The “Why?” might say something like “Past 100,000 miles”, or “Leaky oil”.
As you continue to gather information, look at all your options, and begin deciding which route might take you to the solution. Is there an advantage to using a local mechanic? Maybe he charges a bit more than your friend would, but he promises that you will have the car back in two days. Your friend may take longer to finish the job, but he is willing to teach you how to fix it yourself next time. The car dealership is the most expensive, but they will give you a free loaner car, etc. These are all options to consider, and keeping a written record can help you make the best possible decision, and lead you to the solution.
A Mind Map for Reference
Reference mind maps can be very helpful when you have a great deal of information to keep straight. This type of map operates on the concept of separating aspects of the central ideas into categories, which can then be easily referenced later. Rather than going through pages and pages of generally disorganized notes, a reference mind map allows you to parse out important information visually, so that you can find it when you need it.
Begin by writing out the central concept you are mapping out. We will use the example of “Home Improvement” as our central idea. Now, there may be many aspects of your home you want to improve, but as you list them out, you should begin to notice that they can easily fit into categories. For instance “Fix leaky faucet” and “Defrost freezer” can both be placed together into a category titled “Kitchen”. Likewise “Plant roses” and “Pull weeds” can both be placed under a “Garden” heading.
Separating tasks, or aspects of a central concept into groups of similar ideas can streamline the process by which you work through it all. You can see how, in this case, a reference mind map would be much more efficient than a disorganized “To Do” list. This keeps all of your jobs grouped together, allowing you to approach them in a more logical way.
The “K.W.L.” Mind Map
This is a nice, simple three-part mind map which I personally find very helpful when learning new things. K.W.L. stands for “What I Know”, “What I Want to Know”, and “What I’ve Learned”.
So, before approaching a new lesson, or learning experience, it might be wise to write out two columns on a sheet of paper. The first is to fill up with the things you already know about the topic, and the second is to keep track of the things you want to know. This is a great way to make sure that you get the things you want out of a learning experience. If at the end of the lesson, you haven’t gone through everything in your second column, that’s when you ask questions.
The third column is left for the new things you learned, as well as the answers to the questions posed in the second column. This is really a great way not only of not taking, but also of making sure you got everything you wanted to get out of your learning experience. It’s a quick, but effective way to make sure you are maximizing your lessons.
Mind maps are a great way to become a more organized person, and a better learner. For more information on maximizing your learning ability, consider checking out “Learning to Learn” at Udemy.