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.((Science Direct: Problem analysis and thinking tools: an empirical study of non-hierarchical mind mapping))
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.
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:
- A central image
- Branches or relationship arrows
- Keywords or images
- 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.
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.((The University of Adelaide: Mind Mapping))
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.
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.
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:
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
- Free Mind
You can find more options here.
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
- How to Use a Mind Map to Organize Your Life
- Be More Productive Using A Mind Map As a Task List
- 7 Reasons Why People Who Draw Mind Maps Are More Hireable
Author: Leon Ho
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