When you have a lot of ideas in your mind, you may create a text document, or take a sheet of paper and start writing in a linear fashion. However, this type of document quickly becomes overwhelming. It lacks in clarity and makes it hard for you to get a full picture at a glance and see what is missing. Instead, try looking at some mind map examples to learn how to mind map and visualize your thoughts.
Mind maps can help you zoom out and see the whole hierarchy and how everything is connected. You may see connections you were missing before and find new ways of brainstorming solutions.
Below, you’ll find more information on mind maps and see some mind map examples to inspire you next time you need to organize information.
Table of Contents
What Is a Mind Map?
A mind map is a simple hierarchical radial diagram invented by Tony Buzan. In other words, you organize your thoughts around a central idea. This technique is especially useful whenever you need to declutter your brain or develop an idea, a project (for example, a new product or service), a problem, a solution, etc. By capturing what you have in your head, you make space for other thoughts.
In this article, we are focusing on the basics: mind mapping using a pen and paper.
The objective of a mind map is to clearly visualize all your thoughts and ideas. Don’t complicate a mind map with too many colors or distractions. Use different colors only when they serve a purpose. Always keep a mind map simple and easy to follow.
Image Credit: English Central
By following the three next steps below, you will be able to create such mind maps easily and quickly.
3 Simple Steps to Create a Mind Map
The three steps are:
- Set a central topic
- Add branches of related ideas
- Add sub-branches for more relevant ideas
Let’s take a look at an example Verbal To Visual illustrates on the benefits of mind mapping.
Step 1 : Set a Central Topic
Take a blank sheet of paper, write down the topic you’ve been thinking about: a problem, a decision to make, an idea to develop, or a project to clarify.
Word it in a clear and concise manner. It can be a single word or even a central image.
Step 2 : Add Branches of Related Ideas
What is the first idea that comes to mind when you think of the subject for your mind map? Draw a line (straight or curved) from the central topic, and write down that idea.
Step 3 : Add Sub-Branches for More Relevant Ideas
Then, what does that idea make you think of? What is related to it? List it out nearby by connecting it with shorter lines or a line of a different color. Ensure that it remains organized.
You can always add images or other branches later, but that’s good for now.
In our example, we could detail the sub-branch “Benefits” by listing those benefits in sub-branches of the branch “Benefits.” Unfortunately, we already reached the side of the sheet, so we’re out of space to do so. You could always draw a line to a white space on the page and list them there, but it’s awkward.
Since we created this mind map on a regular letter-format sheet of paper, the quantity of information that fits in there is very limited. That is one of the main reasons why I recommend that you use software rather than pen and paper for most of the mind mapping that you do.
Repeat Step 2 and Step 3
Repeat steps 2 and 3 as many times as you need to flush out all of your ideas around the topic that you chose.
I added first-level (main) branches around the central topic mostly in a clockwise fashion, from top-right to top-left. That is how, by convention, a mind map is read.
In the next section, we are covering the three strategies to building your maps.
Mind Map Examples to Illustrate Mind Mapping
You can go about creating a mind map in various ways:
- Branch by Branch: Adding whole branches (with all of their sub-branches), one by one.
- Level by Level: Adding elements to the map, one level at a time. That means that firstly, you add elements around the central topic (main branches). Then, you add sub-branches to those main branches.
- Free-Flow: Adding elements to your mind map as they come to you, in no particular order.
Branch by Branch
Start with the central topic, and add a first branch. Focus on that branch and detail it as much as you can by adding all the sub-branches that you can think of.
Then develop ideas branch by branch.
One your ideas have filled the branches, the mind map is complete.
Level by Level
In this “Level by Level” strategy of mind map examples, you first add all the elements that you can think of around the central topic, one level deep only. Here, you add elements on level 1:
Then, go over each branch and add the immediate sub-branches (one level only). This is level 2:
Do the same for the next level (level 3). You can have as many levels as you want in a mind map. In our example, we only have 3 levels. Now the map is complete:
Basically, a free flow strategy of mind mapping is to add main branches and sub-topics freely. There are no rules to restrict how ideas should flow in the mind map. The only thing to pay attention to is that you need to be careful about the level of the ideas you’re adding to the mind map — is it a main topic, or is it a subtopic?
Try each strategy and combinations of strategies, and see what works best for you to help you start problem solving.
The Bottom Line
When you’re feeling stuck or when you’re just starting to think about a particular idea or project, take out a paper and start to brain dump your ideas and create a mind map using the mind map examples above. Mind mapping has the magic to clear your head and organize your thoughts.
If you can’t always have access to a paper and pen, don’t worry! Creating a mind map with software is very effective, and you get none of the drawbacks of pen and paper. You can also apply the above steps and strategies just the same when using a mind mapping tool on a phone and computer.
More Tools to Help You Organize Thoughts
- 3 Steps to Organize Your Thoughts And 10X Your Productivity
- How to Organize Information and Tidy up Your Thoughts
- Secrets to Organizing Thoughts and Ideas (So You’ll Never Lose Ideas!)
Featured photo credit: Alvaro Reyes via unsplash.com