I have this habit of scribbling down on my notepad whenever I have an idea or a list of things to do. While I have found this to be effective, I have recently discovered that there is a better way. It is called mind mapping. Mind mapping is a useful technique that improves the way you take and organize your notes and provides a great way for creative problem solving.
Even the name sounds intelligent. “Please, not now . . . I’m mind mapping!”
Mind mapping, as I will show, is a visual representation of your thoughts in a logical and organized model. With a mind map you can quickly identify and understand the structure of a subject and the way pieces of information fit together. Additionally, mind mapping provides a format that encourages creative problem solving in a way that your mind finds easy to assimilate and evolve.
Mind Maps™ is a trademark of the Buzan Organization and the term was created in the late 1960s by Tony Buzan. You can learn more by visiting his Web site: www.buzanworld.com.
Mind Maps are drawn simply on a piece of paper and is a creative alternative to the standard written list of things to do. Below is a beautiful example of a Mind Map from the Buzan World Web site.
TWO MINDS BECOME THREE
Today, there are Web-based mind mapping services that allow you to expand the power of this technique. I use a site called MindMeister (www.mindmeister.com). MindMeister is free for its basic service where you can create, manage and even share your Mind Maps online.
As a Web based service, you can invite others to view and contribute to your Mind Map. I like the sharing aspect of MindMeister. You can collaborate with others in developing and evolving your ideas, which reminds me of the Mastermind techniques that Napoleon Hill trumpeted. The concept of the Mastermind Group was formally introduced by Napoleon Hill in the early 1900s. In his timeless classic, “Think and Grow Rich,” he wrote about the Mastermind principle: “The coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony. No two minds ever come together without thereby creating a third, invisible intangible force, which may be likened to a third mind.”
I am sure that if Napoleon Hill were alive today, he would be Mind Mapping vigorously online with his colleagues.
The evolution of an idea can be quickly advanced with a shared Mind Map. I use mind mapping in all my business and strategic planning. On the next page is an example of a Mind Map I created for my window covering business for “things to do.”
If you are like me, you make lists; lots of lists! I make lists on notepads, napkins and I even send e-mails to myself. Mind mapping offers an alternative to the typical note taking we all do. You can create a visual representation of your ideas in a way that offers a fresh and a creative approach. When done effectively, mind mapping gives a new way to look at a subject by displaying priorities and its relation of items to one another.
Mind mapping is also great at organizing your notes and lists. You can give your maps a title and refer to them as needed. Your maps are compact and are easily printed on one side of a piece of paper. This convenience is useful for business meetings and conferences.
Mind Maps can be used in most areas of your business. You can formulate strategic planning, marketing and sales ideas, and the creation of business systems with this great technique. Mind mapping also will help you with thinking through complex problems and presenting information in a format that shows your ideas in a structure that is easily visible.
I like the concept that Mind Maps give a visual representation of your thoughts and ideas. You not only see the individual points, but you also see the overall structure of your ideas and its relationships to one another, some of which you might not have realized.
So what are you waiting for? This is the next step in the evolution of doodling. Remember those drawings you made during that boring high school class? Well, this is a skill we all have. It’s a natural talent! From the doodle comes the adult list of things to do, and from this comes mind mapping. You never thought that doodling would lead to something useful, did you?
Neil Gordon is the founder of The WCU Online and The Designer’s Coach. He also owns Decorating with Fabric, a window coverings business and workroom in New York. Gordon is the national director of design for Exciting Windows! and serves on the board of directors for the Interior Design Society. He can be reached at: email@example.com His Web sites are: www.thedesignerscoach.com; www.thewcu.com; www.decoratingwithfabric.com; www.dwfcontract.com