How Does One Use a Mind Map? TIPS AND SUGGESTIONS
Buzan’s Mind Maps have seven key features, namely, Organization, keywords, Association, Clustering, Visual Memory, Outstandingness, and Conscious Involvement.
Here are some guidelines to creating your own personal Mind Map. First, draw an image of your central key idea in the middle of a blank piece of paper. Be sure to use 3 colors for this. You can use images, codes, symbols, and dimensions throughout your Mind Map (when necessary.) From the central key idea, you may radially link supporting ideas – be sure that these are written with upper or lower case letters on their own line branching out from the central key idea. Central lines radiating from the central key idea must be thicker yet flowing naturally to the supporting ideas where the lines become thinner. Each line should allow enough space to print the supporting idea allocated for that space. Colors are important though you may use them to highlight certain ideas as you wish – you are free to create your own color code as you make your mind map. The important thing to remember is that you have to create associations as you create the mind map: which color represents this concept? Does using upper-case letters create focus on a supporting idea? Does one ‘tree branch’ of radiating lines display a clear relationship or set of ideas?
Note-taking when listening to a speaker is different from note-taking when reading a document or article. But the commonality between them is that you will have to find out what the main theme is first, then jot down the keywords of that main theme in the middle of the paper.
Keeping an ear or eye out for the sub-themes comes next. These sub-themes may also be indicated through keywords, then linked to the main theme by a line. Good keywords are generally nouns or action words that bring back strong recall of the concept and its meaning. Supporting details may be inked in, in areas near the sub-themes they are related to, then lines are drawn from these supporting details to connect to the sub-themes. You may use polygons of any sort (not just circles) drawn around the main theme and then the sub-themes to set them apart from one another. You could also try numbering each ‘tree branch’ of information to further organize your thoughts.
You will find as you go along that you will be able to see, with one glance, what the dominant ideas of the speech or article are. But do not think that the ideas have to be confined to what the contents of the speech or article are. You may opt to include any insights you have that cropped up in the course of the study or work session. The advantage of this note-taking method is that it is tailored to the needs of every person since each person has a unique way of organizing his ideas. One person’s mind map may be gibberish to another person.
Color coding when mind mapping can be done in three ways: by the theme of your mind map, by the ‘tree branch’ or area of relationship, by the source of your information, and by keywords. Color coding by theme acts like a traffic sign informing you what that part of your mind map is generally about. Color coding each ‘tree branch’ denotes a specific relationship among ideas included in the tree branch. Color coding each area of the mind map based on where you derived the information also works well – this is particularly applicable to group work. Color coding keywords helps you zero in on important concepts without disregarding minor details.
Color coding becomes easier if you have the right tools. These could be colored pens, such as fine point felt-tipped markers, colored pencils (though these may provide less clarity), watercolor pencils, watercolor brushes, and perhaps even paper with different background hues. Some people prefer to sketch their mind maps with sharpened graphite pencils first then color in the appropriate areas later on. This technique is convenient when you want to erase an idea or even a whole ‘tree branch’ from the paper.
You can create a mind map using plain paper and differently-colored pens. Or you can opt to use the different kinds of mind-mapping computer software programs that are out on the market. Some people might find it easier to take linear notes at the start, then translate these notes into mind maps later on – it’s up to you because mind mapping lends itself to each person’s unique note-taking style.
When you are creating the mind map, it is advisable to keep your writing small since you will be attempting to place all your related ideas on one page.
Remember that, essentially, there is no limit to how vast your mind map can become. A sub-topic in the first mind map you create may become the central key idea in the next mind map you draw. This is the beauty of mind mapping – relationships may go on as extensively as they exist in your mind.
Okay, so you drew a mind map, then put it away for awhile. Then you took it out again and looked at it. Does it make sense to you? It should – because the symbols and relationships which you integrated into it are those which have a personal meaning to you. If you used keywords for your central key idea and the sub-themes, all the better. Keywords are easier to remember than whole sentences (which is why mind maps are believed to be superior to linear note-taking.) Good keywords would be those which help you to recall meaning more satisfactorily.
It is possible that in the course of drawing your mind map, you may have repeated a keyword twice or several times. Examine this closely, then decide whether you should use that keyword as the central key idea for a new mind map. It is possible that the keyword may generate a whole host of related ideas which can be organized in the following mind maps. If you are using your mind map to brainstorm solutions to a problem, repeating a keyword is a positive sign – it could mean that you have discovered an appropriate solution.
It is important that you only place one keyword or term on one line because every word and image can make you think of more than one possible association. If you list just one keyword or term, it is possible to generate a lot of ideas from it. It is also easier to remember.
During the course of drawing your mind map, it is possible that you will run out of details to add to it. Don’t panic – just add some lines (to the ‘tree branch’ of related ideas) that do not contain any information at all. You could take a break during this time, perhaps do something else for awhile, then come back to the task again. You may find that new associations grow in your mind when you do this; you could jot them down later in those blank lines. By the way, there is no such thing as ‘stupid’ ideas when you are free-associating. An idea that seems inane or dumb when you first think of it may seem like a truly creative, great concept when you examine it later on.
Another thing that could happen is that you could think of a really fantastic idea at inopportune times (like when you’re taking a shower or driving your car.) It helps to have a planner you could jot down such ideas in, to transfer them to your mind map later on. What happened is that your mind was thinking of your mind map even when you were doing something else – then it came up with that association which you simply had to write down. If paper is not at hand, try to keep that ground-breaking thought in your mind until you can get to your mind map. You really need to put down your brainchild on paper though – think of it as a brain purge. Otherwise, your conscience will nag you that you have thoughts which need to be jotted down.