Mind Map: What it is and Why You Should Use it

The Commute

The mind map and the concept of mindmapping  was first introduced to me by a client back in 2009.  Being used to doing system and program flowcharting because of my previous job as a systems analyst, the idea of a mind map was a breath of fresh air to me as it apparently leans more on the non-linear side of things. Plus, it has less stricter rules. Personally, as long as you understand your own mind map, then you’re good to go.

Anyhow, while I’m fond of taking notes, mindmapping  has paved the way for a much easier method of (1) organizing ideas, (2) recalling these ideas by how one is connected to another, (3) and making it possible to share the mind map without having to include too much narrative explanation.

So, what is a mind map? A mindmap is like a spider diagram

Apparently, the history of how the term “mind map” was coined dates back to the early 1970s. A single idea becomes the focus in creating the mind map then “sub-nodes” branch out from it. This is perhaps why a mind map is described as a “spider diagram” or a “sun burst.”

Where and when can I use mind maps?

Mind maps have many uses. As it is designed to create a plan that is centered at any single idea,  its application could be endless – from personal, to business-related, to educational, etc.

I personally created a mind map when I planned this site.

Again, you just have to start with an idea.

Are mind maps effective?

As it is created in a non-linear fashion, most people find that mindmaps work for them. It is not surprising because the “radiant” flow or direction of a mind map is pretty much also how our brain works. You’d be surprised when you think that the mind map you created looks gibberish and all, then the moment you share it with another person, he’ll pretty much get a basic understanding of what you created. It is because our brains tend to connect things, concepts and ideas based on A-S-S-O-C-I-A-T-I-O-N. For this simple reason, mind maps are effective for brainstorming and collaboration.

Moreover, creating mindmaps allows me to see everything that I’ve written at a single glance. It tells me in an instant if I have covered everything or if I’ve missed anything. This is particularly applicable when you’re planning out a business.

sample business mind map
Business Mindmap courtesy of Biggerplate.com

 

Are there apps that I can use to create mindmaps?

Yes! There a lot of apps that you can freely use to create your mindmaps.

      1. Bubbl.us– is a nifty online mindmapping tool that’s easy to use. You can color code the nodes to either to differentiate their level on your mindmap, or you can also use the color as label of your own definition. Once done, you can download or send it directly to your printer or save it as a PDF. The free version allows up to 3 mindmaps.
      2. Freemind – Coded in Java platform, Freemind is compatible with Windows, Linux and Mac OS systems. It has a pretty intuitive interface, and allows you to export your mindmap to your website. Software is totally free.
      3. Mindjet – They have a selection of mind map templates that you can choose from depending on the nature of your project or collaboration. Quite a good move on that part, as the ready-to-use templates allow users to immediately dive in and get started. If you’re always on the go, this would perhaps come in handy since it will allow you to build your mind map on the fly. It also allows you to attach files from other platforms so everything is seen in your mind map in just one glance. Free version is good for 30 days.
      4. Coggle – its free version allows you to create 3 private diagrams (mindmaps) and unlimited public diagrams. Also allows you to download your diagrams either as  PDF or image. Signing up is easy since you have the option to simply log on to your existing Google account.
      5. MapsofMind –  another robust tool with an intuitive interface. MapsofMind has an InfoBox feature that allows you to create up to 4 types of boxes within an InfoBox. Perhaps, you can think of an InfoBox as “sub-node” that branches out from the center node (central idea in the mindmap). MapsofMind is highly customizable. Check out the blog about the InfoBox feature here.

What are your favorite mind mapping tools? Haven’t started mindmapping yet? Why not try out one of these tools and tell me what you think 😉

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