Mind Map: 3 Awesome Ways to Use It

I learned about mind mapping over two decades ago.  Within the last year, it has recently come back into the scene, at least my scene.

If you are not sure what “mind mapping” is, then this is your opportunity to learn something new.  If you already know what it is and were taught to use it a certain way, you may be surprised of its other applications.

In this article, I will cover three (3) awesome ways you can use and apply Mind Mapping.  In discussing these mind mapping applications, I will cover the following areas:

  • What is mind mapping?
  • What tools exist and where can I find them?
  • What are the three awesome ways to apply it?

Mind Mapping, What Is It?

Basically, a mind map is a way to represent ideas or information where the connections or relationships between the various information is represented in a visual way. The collection of ideas all revolve around a central idea, represented by one or more words.  The act of doing this is called mind mapping.

The image below is an example of a mind map.

Example of a Mind Map

Example of a Mind Map (click for full view)

Tools That Exist and Where to Find Them?

There are many tools that exists out there to help you create mind maps using your computer.  There are two that I have personally used–both free and with wide range of platform support.

  • Freemind – open source product, available at http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page.  I personally use this on my Windows 7 laptop.  It is very high quality and certainly does the job.
  • Mindjet – this is a free product as well; it is available on various platforms including tablets (iOS or Android based); it is available through their respective app stores

Three Awesome Uses

The original intent of mind mapping was to map ideas and how they connect/relate to each other.  That hasn’t changed, but it can be used from a  slightly different perspective, making it an indispensable tool.  Below are three awesome applications for this tool:

  • Brainstorming–out of ideas?  use a mind map to come up with new ideas
  • Taking Notes–it doesn’t have to be as linear as traditional notes; makes for easy review
  • Project Planning–if you don’t want to miss crucial project details, use a mind map

Brainstorming

I do a lot of writing.  When I want to write about a particular topic, sooner or later, I run out of things to write about.  When I discovered mind mapping as a brainstorming tool, I no longer experience this problem, because the best way to come up with new ideas and other ideas related to it is to brainstorm using a mind map.
Give it a try and you’ll see how well it works.  Believe me it definitely works.  Through mind mapping, a topic which seems pretty limited will quickly open up into various areas you may not have ever thought about.  When you mind map, new ideas can easily come to mind because you are forced to think of other things related to the topic at hand.
Here’s an example of a mind map I built to help me figure what to write on a topic related to “casual running”.
Running Mind Map
At first I thought I didn’t really have much to write about, but then after doing a mind map, I can see that I have more than enough topics to write about.

Taking Notes

Traditional note taking can be messy.  On top of that, the act of jotting down information the old fashion way is very linear.  This means if I want to add another piece of information into my notes, I would have to figure a way to squeeze it into my hand written notes.  If I’m using a note taking program, I would have to find the line where i want to insert it and type it in.  Finding that line might take a bit of time.
Now, try taking notes using a mind map!  Whether you do it by hand or using an application, the experience is totally different.  I personally feel like it doesn’t matter if I missed jotting down something in the early parts of note taking, because I know can quickly find the place where I want to insert it when the time is right.  I certainly don’t want to miss key information during note taking when I get busy trying to figure out where to put a bit of information; and this can easily happen using the traditional methods; but not as easily on a mind map.
Anyway, with a mind map you can start at the center of the page with the central idea.  From there, bits of information can be connected in a radial way.  Although nothing is linear, it has a clear structure.
I’ve personally have done this during a webinar.  It works great!

Project Planning

What is the one thing that worries you the most when project planning?  For most of us, it is the thought of missing a critical piece of the overall project.
The act of using a mind map helps draw out all aspects of a project.  There is just no way around that.  When you start mind mapping, ideas can flow from map nodes that already exists; in other words, existing information can help trigger the thought of  related or relevant information or activity.
Below is an example of a mind map for a desktop deployment project:
Project Mind Map

Project Mind Map

Conclusion

Mind mapping is the act of using a mind map to graphically draw out an idea or concept.  It is a very versatile tool.

You can do this by hand, but there are many tools out there that can facilitate the creation and saving of mind maps.  The two free tools mentioned here are MindJet (for Android) and FreeMind.

A mind map is not simply a tool for mapping concepts and ideas, but can easily be adapted in various ways.  Three awesome and very practical applications of it are:

  • Brainstorming
  • Taking notes
  • Project planning

How have you applied mind maps?


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