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Published on March 25, 2020

How to Use Mind Mapping in Your Everyday Life

How to Use Mind Mapping in Your Everyday Life

Your brain retains a lot of information. All of this information is inter-connected to make sense. Without these links, the information would be jumbled and confused.

In other words, your mind creates maps that function just like geographical maps — one location leads to another. There may be multiple routes to the same destination as well.

The technique of mind mapping can be used for effective learning from birth to death! Find out more about mind mapping, its remarkable advantages, and how to implement it in your day to day learning in this article.

What Is Mind Mapping?

Mind mapping is a simple concept whereby you create a map or flowchart to better process information. It is the implementation of how the brain processes information to encourage creativity.[1]

Mind maps don’t necessarily have to be physically written or drawn. Sometimes, a mind map can be imaginary, too. The latter is more convenient for compact ideas and will be more suitable once you get the hang of creating mind maps.

To understand the concept of mind mapping, you should picture this scenario:

Many times, you have so much information at hand that is so closely connected that it seems almost impossible to comprehend.

For example, you’re at a music class. The instrumental chords of a guitar and piano are so similar yet completely different at the same time. How can you possibly organize this information as a beginner?

The best way is to create a mind map.

All the elements of a mind map will help you connect the information in a way that will make it easier to absorb.

5 Elements of a Mind Map

You can personalize your preferred mind mapping technique according to what suits you best.

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However, a mind map usually has 5 main elements.

This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but an effective mind map is usually based on the following 5 parts:

  1. A central image
  2. Branches or relationship arrows
  3. Keywords or images
  4. Sub-themes
  5. Nodal structure

Some people like to further categorize the themes and topics to create up to 10 components. It is an extension of the sub-themes. But once again, how you choose to mind map is totally your personal preference.

What the Elements Represent

Each element is important as part of the whole. Here is an explanation of each of the parts.

A Central Image

The central image is the main theme or topic. Therefore, the central image is whatever the information is ultimately connected to.

It can be as broad or narrow as you like. Carrying on with the example of learning a musical instrument, the theme is instruments or music.

Branches

The next component is branches. Each idea you write down must have some sort of connection with at least one other part of the mind map. You cannot include any idea that doesn’t link up. Therefore, all the ideas in the mind map must be connected with branches or relationship arrows.

Keywords or Images

There are keywords or images. Certain ideas and information include a lot of detail. You cannot write it all down in a mind map.

Mind mapping has to be compact and precise in order to lead to effective results.[2]

If the idea is too elaborate to be expressed in a couple of words, you can either use an image or multiple connective keywords in its place.

In the case of digital mind maps, images work very well.

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Sub-Themes

The sub-themes are the narrower topics that fall under the bigger umbrella theme. For the same example of musical instruments, the sub-themes include guitar, piano, specific chords, etc. There are usually numerous sub-themes in a mind map.

Nodal Structure

Mind mapping is based on a nodal structure where sub-themes are explained and everything is linked. Certain ideas are broad and cover other compact concepts as well. The whole idea of mind mapping is incomplete without this structure.

Benefits of Mind Mapping

Now you know what mind mapping is and are probably convinced that it is an excellent approach to learning. But what is in it for you to use this method?

Well, the benefits of mind mapping are tremendous. Here’s a quick rundown:

Easy Organization

Right off the bat, there is no better way to organize information than with a mind map. No matter how confused you feel, a mind map will put everything in its right place.

Organized information is easier to remember. The visual representation of every connection imprints on your mind.

No matter how stressed you are, once you begin to organize all the ideas in a mind map, everything starts to make sense. Once that happens, there’s nothing left to worry about!

Brainstorming

Mind maps are a process. From one keyword to the other, from one image to the next, the connections trigger the brain to bring other related links to the surface, too.

This technique will help you brainstorm like no other.

Mind mapping is a very engaging learning process. Therefore, the brain is fully involved and focused. This encourages new ideas and concepts so that the learning process goes beyond the information at hand.

The magic in mind mapping is that all sorts of complex information also seem easy to understand. With brainstorming, these ideas are further built upon.

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Here’s an example to give you a clearer picture:

You’re learning a foreign language. In your mind map, you can link the foreign words with images or keywords of the language you know. Within this map, you can brainstorm to figure out certain common elements that will help you remember the foreign words easily.

These elements may be prefixes or suffixes. Or, there may be a specific trick that you can put your finger on once all similar words are linked up. While it is extremely easy to do in a mind map, it is almost impossible to identify these things in other learning methods.

The bottom line is that with mind mapping, the learning process becomes a continuous cycle of learning progress.

Guaranteed Results

As mentioned previously, mind mapping is the implementation of the process of the way that the brain actually works. Using the creation of links like that in a map, the brain can remember knowledge for the long-term.

Since mind mapping supports this mental process, there is no chance that you won’t successfully learn what you want to.

Basically, you will understand and remember whatever you want. There is literally nothing in the world that you won’t be able to excel at once you become a master of mind mapping!

Saving Time

This method is not time-saving in the sense that you’re probably thinking of. Creating a mind map, organizing all the information, and then fitting in new ideas may take up a decent chunk of your time.

However, since the learning is guaranteed in one go, you won’t have to spend time on the same theme again and again.

How to Use Mind Mapping to Learn New Skills

Mind maps are a tool that can be used every day. Use them to create an extensive to-do list or let the technique help you learn new skills.

For example, let’s assume you’re a social media content creator. You want to create more engaging content. Start creating a mind map that is centered on themes for your posts. You can include topics that you’ve already covered as well as ones you plan on posting about.

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Then, include the feedback that you received on your previous posts. Link it up to suggested improvements or continued strategies so that the new posts can perform better.

There is no rocket science in using a mind map effectively. You can categorize the process in 3 steps of mind mapping. Once you begin, you’ll quickly get the hang of it.

Helpful Tools

Mind maps can be made in numerous ways.

Some people find it way easier to work with a pen and paper, whereas others prefer a digitized version.

Each method has its pros and cons. Digital mind maps can be edited and altered very easily. It’s more convenient to add images. Also, the digital mind maps are more organized and neat.

On the other hand, using a pen and paper lets the individual’s brain go in a flow. Scribbling the thoughts on a paper encourages the brain to find more relevant connections.

The best way to get use out of both methods is to create a rough version on a paper and then shift it to a digital platform. Or, you can use a software or mind mapping application from the get-go.

Some of the best mind mapping tools available for free are:

  • MS Word
  • Canva
  • MindMup
  • Free Mind

You can find more options here.

Final Thoughts

You don’t ever have to feel stuck again. Going through a creative block or failing to learn new things in life? Mind mapping is the ultimate solution to get your brain back on track!

More Tips on Mind Mapping

Featured photo credit: Alvaro Reyes via unsplash.com

Reference

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

How Social Learning Helps You Learn Faster and Easier

How Social Learning Helps You Learn Faster and Easier

Have you ever noticed that you tend to learn certain things simply by observing others? Learning in this way is called social learning, which is one of the 6 common types of learning. It helps you learn faster as knowledge and habits are acquired easily when they are practiced by people within a certain environment.

Throughout the centuries, humans have incorporated social learning in their lives as a major learning approach. The fact that human behavior is learned has made this possible. From initially being the only way to learn, it is now the fastest and most comprehensive learning method.

In this article, you’ll find out how you can make good use of social learning and observed behaviors to help you learn faster and easier.

The social learning theory as presented by Albert Bandura is simple. It suggests social learning is based on attention, retention, motivation and reproduction[1].

While these stages seem like common sense, there is a surprisingly large number of people who go through social interactions without learning anything because they aren’t actively practicing the different stages.

Let’s get started with the first stage, attention.

Attention

Since our mind has a limited capacity for storing data, it’s the things that we pay attention to that stay with us. Giving 100% of your attention to a situation you learn from is guaranteed to help you maximize social learning.

Stay in the Moment

When you’re focused on learning from your surroundings, your mind will focus only on what it wants to learn, so distractions fade away. However, it’s very normal to be in a situation where the information you are getting becomes monotonous or you get distracted for some other reason.

Make sure you are well-rested and energized so you can spend your energy learning things that matter to you[2].

social learning theory

    Be Mindful

    Mindfulness in its simplest terms is tuning into we’re experiencing in the present rather than thinking about something that could or did happen.

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    For social learning, you should be mindful only of the conversation or activity you want to learn from, filtering out other things that don’t matter to you as much at that moment. This way, your brain can make memories of what you are experiencing at that time only, which is the thing you want to learn.

    If you find yourself getting distracted, focus on deep breathing until the distractions fade away and you can bring your attention back to the learning opportunity at hand.

    For more tips on being mindful, check out this article.

    Don’t Multitask

    In today’s hyper-connected world, it’s normal, even expected, to be a multitasker. Being amongst people and checking emails on smartphones is now normal social behavior.

    However, when you want to maximize your social learning, don’t multitask. You should focus only on the interaction you want to learn from and block out all the rest.

    Don’t reach for your device, and don’t engage in multiple conversations simultaneously. In short, don’t have your mind and other senses deal with anything apart from learning.

    Engage Actively

    Similar to the above points, learning through social learning is fast and easy if you listen, speak, and observe actively.

    When you’re actively engaged, you respond to the situation by making relevant observations, mimicking important actions, and focusing on listening so you understand.

    To maximize the benefits of learning through social learning, be attentive to those who are around and looking to learn as well. A good example of this would be medical students on clinical rotations who are actively observing and listening to the doctor they are assigned to, and responding to his / her queries.

    Retention

    Paying attention is great for learning, but what about retaining the new information?

    Our brain has limited space to store data, so how do we ensure we remember things that are important to us?

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    These tips should help increase your retention power.

    Repeat to Remember

    Our brain starts developing from the moment we are born, absorbing things from people and experiences around us. It is learning constantly, and repeated experiences help reinforce the learning.

    A new experience opens up new neural pathways in our brain, and repetition of these experiences[3] strengthens the pathways, helping us retain the information better and for longer.

    Increase Brain Power

    You can improve retention by increasing your brain power: exercise regularly, sleep well, and stretch memory muscles by playing brain games.

    Here are more ways to help: How to Increase Brain Power: 10 Simple Ways to Train Your Brain

    Make Connections

    Connect a social learning opportunity with mnemonics. Use mental images, music, and anything else you want to retain and recall information.

    Link new information with old to reach new conclusions. You can use writing and speech for this.

    Remember That Less Is More

    When you are looking to retain knowledge through social learning, try taking in information in small quantities.

    Full day conferences, lectures that last for hours, and similar learning schedules do not have the desired effect. The human mind shuts down when it is faced with information overload, and the learning from these situations becomes minimal.

    Research shows that if you are looking to retain information from social learning opportunities, it’s a far better idea to put yourself in the situation more frequently for a shorter amount of time[4].

    Motivation

    The idea of a tangible reward or the emotional high that comes with the sense of accomplishment is what motivates us to keep doing a good thing, while the fear of repercussions or unpleasant outcomes is what keeps from doing something bad.

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    When a child observes that good behavior of a sibling results in them getting a treat, while bad behavior courts punishment, the child wanting a treat will be motivated toward good behavior by this social learning lesson.

    Motivation to learn new information and habits is a critical part of social learning. To stay motivated for social learning, you can try the following.

    Find a Role Model

    Finding a role model and basing your learning on them means you are motivated to duplicate the role model’s behavior.

    The medical students example fits well here again. The students will be motivated to observe and imitate better clinical skills and patient handling techniques by observing others around them and aspiring to be as good as they are.

    Make a Note

    Write down things that inspired you, and keep going back to them to stay motivated.

    Talk About It

    Talk to your role model or peers about what is motivating you in a shared social learning environment.

    An example of this is a person in rehab who is motivated to attend meetings by the presence of others who have managed to kick the addiction and are on the road to recovery.

    This is based on reinforcement or punishment. Positive motivation is reward-based motivation (satisfied patients) and negative motivation is punishment-based motivation (absolute dependence on drugs).

    Remember, no matter which type works for you, without motivation, there is no reason for us to do anything.

    Reproduction

    In the context of social learning, “reproduction” is not propagation of the learning, but the implementation of it.

    Reproducing learned information is the last stage of social learning. Once you pay attention to your surroundings and retain what you learned in the setting, you are then motivated to reproduce your learning so you can get the reward.

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    Bandura suggests direct reinforcement, vicarious reinforcement and self-reinforcement as the different ways to reproduce knowledge gained through social learning[5].

    Direct Reinforcement

    This is when you act on knowledge, knowing the result will be positive, or avoid the act because the result would be unpleasant.

    To repeat the medical students’ example here, direct reinforcement would be one of them practicing patient handling techniques learned from their role model, with the expectation that the result would be a satisfied patient.

    Vicarious Reinforcement

    Vicarious reinforcement in social learning is the application of knowledge that has not been learned first-hand but is learned by observing the consequences of the actions of a third party.

    A good example of this type of reinforcement would be learning not to take drugs after seeing the condition of a drug addict.

    Self-Reinforcement

    Self-reinforcement is when a person decides to reward him / herself for good behavior, or bring about a negative consequence as a result of an undesired situation.

    Think of a student who has promised herself a scoop of ice cream if she gets an A on an exam she studied hard for, or decided to ask for extra coaching if she got anything below a C.

    The Bottom Line

    Albert Bandura presented the social learning theory in the 1970s, and it immediately gained popularity because of its simplicity, practicality, and immense potential for success. While the theory never went out of fashion, it is now experiencing a resurgence for all the right reasons.

    If you want to become a smarter learner, take advantage of learning experiences and the social learning theory to learn faster!

    More About Effective Learning

    Featured photo credit: Alexis Brown via unsplash.com

    Reference

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