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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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Published on June 22, 2020

7 Characteristics of a Smart Auditory Learner

7 Characteristics of a Smart Auditory Learner

I spent five years as a middle and high school teacher, and I would often hear people talking about learning styles. “Betty is a visual learner. Sam is kinesthetic. Emma is an auditory learner.”

I hadn’t read any research about learning styles at the time, but on the face of it, it makes sense. Some people seem to learn better when they see things, others when they’re active, and some when they hear things. I know that I really struggle when someone spells a word aloud. I have no idea what word they’re spelling. I’ve always just made the excuse that I’m a visual learner and will need them to write it down for me. But is there any truth to learning styles?

Before we delve into the characteristics of a smart auditory learner, let’s take a step back and explore what research says about learning styles more generally.

Debunking Learning Styles

In the 1990s, a New Zealand school inspector named Neil Fleming[1] came up with a questionnaire to measure people’s preferred learning style. Now called the VARK questionnaire, it’s still used today to discern whether people are Visual, Auditory, Read/Write, or Kinesthetic learners.

Fleming’s learning styles theory gained popularity over the decades, but no studies have confirmed its legitimacy. In a study by Polly Husmann and Valerie Dean O’Loughlin[2], they found that people who used their preferred learning style did not see any improvements in learning outcomes. In short, there was no correlation between learning style and actual learning.

Another study by Abby R. Knoll, Hajime Otani, Reid L. Skeel, and K. Roger Van Horn[3] also found that learning style had no relationship with recall. Participants who preferred visual learning did not recall images they saw any better than words they heard.

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There’s no evidence that learning styles help people learn or recall. Instead, they should be thought of as a learning preference. I prefer when people write things down for me, but there’s no evidence that this improves my recall.

7 Characteristics of a Smart Auditory Learner

Having a preference for auditory learning means you gravitate toward verbal communication. Audiobooks and lectures might be your cup of tea instead of the charts and graphs of a visual learner.

So what if you think you’re an auditory learner? Let’s say you have a knack for processing audio communication and can close your eyes and pick up all the important details of a lecture or audiobook. The following list is for you. Here are 7 characteristics of smart auditory learners—people who use their auditory preference to their advantage.

1. They Take Learning Styles With a Grain of Salt

This bears repeating. There is no evidence that people’s learning styles impact their learning, so a smart auditory learner definitely takes learning styles with a grain of salt.

Think of it as a preference. Smart auditory learners know they prefer audiobooks and hearing things out loud, so there’s no harm leaning into that preference.

Just don’t assume it’s going to improve your test scores.

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2. They Get Rid of Distractions

Just because you’re an auditory learner doesn’t mean you can sift through lots of auditory inputs at once. No matter your learning preference, make sure you put effort into limiting distractions.

An auditory learner might struggle to study while listening to music or have difficulty working with the TV on because they’re so receptive to auditory information. Therefore, you should find a quiet place to learn, so you can focus all your energy on whatever it is you’re trying to retain.

3. They Match Learning Task With Learning Style

The real secret to improving your retention and recall is to match the learning task with the learning style. A smart auditory learner knows the best time to rely on auditory learning. They don’t always fall back on listening. Instead, they strategize the best approach for each individual learning challenge.

For example, I might know that I favor visual learning, but if I need to memorize my lines in a play, I might be better served recording the other characters’ lines, so I can practice saying my lines when I hear my cues.

Maybe I’m more kinesthetic. That doesn’t mean that I have to move to learn. Instead, I have to be strategic about when and how I add movement to my learning process. It might make sense for me to memorize countries or states by drawing a giant map and running to the right spot when someone yells out that geographic location. However, it doesn’t make much sense to dance around while I’m reading Foucault. The learning style should be in service of whatever it is that’s being learned.

Instead of catering to people’s learning preferences, we should be matching the learning style with the task at hand. Ask yourself, “What’s the best style (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, reading/writing) for this particular learning task?”

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4. They Use Their Voice

Auditory learners might need to read things aloud or listen to audiobooks instead of silently reading. Adding your voice can help turn reading/writing into an auditory exercise.

Get creative with it. If you consider yourself to be an auditory learner, think of different ways to add an audio element to your learning. Sing it. Yell it. Turn it into a poem. Just don’t get stuck in the reading/writing learning style when you prefer to be hearing and listening.

5. They Practice Listening

Smart auditory learners don’t take listening for granted. Just because you prefer auditory learning doesn’t mean you’re great at it. Instead, smart auditory learners take their preference and improve it over time.

Practice your listening skills. Give people your undivided attention, clarify what you’ve just heard, and challenge yourself to be as active and present a listener as possible.

Asking clarifying questions and repeating back what you’ve just heard can help you assess how accurate your listening is[4]. You should also transfer what you’ve heard to other learning styles. Write it down or draw it as pictures, charts, and graphs. That brings us to the next characteristic of smart auditory learners.

6. They Use All Learning Styles

Smart auditory learners use all the learning styles. They may have a preference for listening, but using all types of inputs helps improve retention and recall.

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If you’re studying for an exam, don’t just record your notes as audio or listen to online lectures. Use flashcards, read your notes out loud, quiz yourself, create an active game that requires you to move around, and teach the concepts to your roommate. This gets as many parts of your brain and body involved in the learning as possible, which increases your odds of retaining the information and acing the exam.

7. They Reflect on What Works and What Doesn’t

Smart auditory learners are also reflective and self-aware learners. After you try a learning strategy, assess and reflect on how it went. Did you retain as much information as you’d hoped? Build off your successes and change strategies when a learning style isn’t working for you.

Smart auditory learning is really just smart learning. Create a game plan that uses multiple, appropriate learning styles. Then, follow through by removing distractions and studying your heart out. After assessing how much you’ve retained, reflect on what worked and what didn’t. Then, refine your game plan for more success next time.

Final Thoughts

It would be magical if learning styles were a silver bullet for learning. I’d love to be able to say I’m a visual learner and then be able to recall every single piece of information just by seeing it represented visually. Unfortunately, that’s not at all how learning styles work.

Learning is complex and messy. Just because we prefer one learning style doesn’t mean it helps us learn better. What we really need to do is experiment with all the learning styles and try to match the right learning styles with each specific task.

Knowing your learning style is important. It’s good to know how you prefer to receive information. Just don’t stop there. Use your preference for auditory learning strategically and when it makes sense to do so.

More Tips for When You’re an Auditory Learner

Featured photo credit: Blaz Erzetic via unsplash.com

Reference

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