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How Mind-Mapping and Books Go Hand in Hand

How Mind-Mapping and Books Go Hand in Hand

Most of us know about mind-mapping already; we know that it can help us create amazing overviews and give us a lot of clarity. Today I would like to talk with you about the wonderful synergy between mind-mapping and books.

The way most people create mind maps is by taking notes or by jotting down their thoughts and ideas, and that’s a good method, but there is an additional way you can use mind maps to your advantage.

Mind Mapping and Writing

Have you ever written a book? More and more people are walking around with the idea of writing a book (or at least sharing their ideas and thoughts with the world), and you can do that as well—but where to start, right?

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There is a very easy method for writing books with mind-mapping strategies. The first thing you need to do is outline your ideas in a mind map. One easy way to do this is by creating a number of chapters, each represented by a new branch. Then, you add subjects you’d like to discuss in that chapter as topics to that branch.

Here’s the smart thing that most people won’t do, but can actually let you save a lot of time and energy: open the notes section of each node in your mind map. Next, start explaining your idea in that text field. Is it ready? Then you move on to the next one. Are you stuck? Move on anyway, making the text of the previous node bold (so you know the text isn’t ready). Proceed until you have all nodes discussed and you have your document ready.

You’re almost done—all you need to do is transform it into a proper book format. This is done by exporting it to Microsoft Word, for example. Most mind mapping tools can do this: the topics on the branches are turned into headlines, while the note text becomes the paragraph text.

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There you have it! Your own book, based on the mind map you created.

Mind Mapping and Reading

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the books you read? Are you highlighting all the text except for the page numbers? There should be a more effective way to do this, and there is. A quick and simple way to read books and remember more of what you read is by mind-mapping your notes.

The next time you read a book, create a new mind map. Make branches for the chapters (or paragraphs) you will be reading first: this is done without actually reading the book yet. Simply take headings and create a mind map structure of the book. Then you start reading the book, adding notes to the map as you go. One simple way is by taking the paragraph and other headlines, and adding highlighted, bold, italic, or other keywords to the map.

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Before you know it, you have a summary of the book. (If you’re doing this the smart way, it could even be without actually reading the book itself!). Then, take your mind map and keep it as a guideline for reading and studying. The map itself gives you the big tour through the book, and you just need to add new ideas and thoughts when you are doing more comprehensive reading.

And Now it’s Up to You

There you have it: a way to write your own book (or document, report, article, etc.) and a method for transforming books into practical and useful mind maps. What will you do with this knowledge?

Here are some action points to help you start applying this theory in your own life:

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Action Point 1: If you don’t have a book waiting inside you yet, write the story of your own life. When you would write such a book 30 years in the future, what branches and subjects would it include? What would the story of your life tell, inspire, and show others?

Action Point 2: Grab a book that you should read and outline it using the mind map method I shared with you. Do you have a better sense of the content now?

Action Point 3: Think about a book you don’t really want to read, but have to. The book might be difficult to understand—how would you use the two techniques to make a version of it that’s easier to comprehend? (Hint: use both techniques for this.)

Good luck mind-mapping, writing, and reading. I am confident you will be able to save a lot of time and get a good sense of your books and information this way. Below, feel free to share how you would use this technique in your life. Remember to use it at least once, and know when to stop mind mapping as well.

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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