Mind mapping: ditch the list & unleash your creative thinking

Mind mapping: ditch the list & unleash your creative thinking

What is mind mapping, anyway?

A visual, organic way to organize information

Mind mapping fell into my lap a while back during a time when I felt scattered and undisciplined (or maybe I came across it while pinning random pictures on Pinterest, I can’t remember). Lists no longer worked for me, if they had ever worked at all. And, that is a difficult thing for me to admit. Because I, being the true nerd that I am, have always had a thing for lists. Maybe it’s OCD… maybe I’m just weird. Either way, I love nothing more than planning things with nice little checklists. Sometimes (okay lots of times) I will even add a task I have already completed just to have the satisfaction of crossing it off my list.

But lists and I have a love/hate relationship. For one thing, order has always been important to me and if I thought of an item that belonged somewhere in the list but there was no room to add it – well, that drove me crazy and I often had to rewrite the whole list from scratch. For another, I would often get so hung up on making the list perfect that I would never get around to actually doing any of the items ON the list!

But what makes mind mapping so great?

The *idea* of mind mapping has been around for centuries, but the term and the practice we know it as today was coined by author Tony Buzan: “A Mind Map is a visual thinking tool that can be applied to all cognitive functions, especially memory, learning, creativity and analysis. Mind Mapping is a process that involves a distinct combination of imagery, colour and visual-spatial arrangement. The technique maps out your thoughts using keywords that trigger associations in the brain to spark further ideas.” (From the iMindMap software from Tony Buzan)

Simply put, the process goes a little like this:

  1. You have an idea
  2. You write the idea in the center of a piece of paper
  3. You start to connect other ideas that branch off of the central idea as keywords, pictures, etc.
  4. You fill up the paper with these word-associations, which spark more ideas, and more associations.

Think of a mind map as just that — a map. Maps use roads and paths to connect us from one place to another. Mind maps use words, thoughts, images, and color, to connect our thoughts together into one cohesive idea.

Have you tried mind mapping? If so, what are your thoughts? If not, what are you waiting for?! 😉

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