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Understanding Mind Maps

Perhaps you have heard before of a particular type of creative exercise called Mind Mapping. I wrote previously on mind maps briefly in the article titled, “Three Creative Exercises,” but since it is so versatile and innovative I wanted to dedicate a complete article to discussing Mind Maps further---their definition, history, applications, and benefits. Because this is such a huge topic the hope of this article is to serve as an overview that will fuel your imagination and inspire you to creative contemplation through the use of Mind Mapping.

By definition Mind Maps are diagrams that are often used to brainstorm, outline, and organize information or ideas. At its simplest form a mind map consists of a topic written at the center of a page with a shape drawn around it. From there, related information, ideas, notes and inspirations are written around the centered topic with lines connecting the data. Mind Mapping can be accomplished by using software specifically designed to create a visual graphic of your mind map or by the simpler method of pencil and paper. If you choose to use software you can find very good programs for free with a Google search. Please see below for a basic mind map diagram.





As you can see, the center rectangle would be used for your main topic or idea. Then, as ideas and thoughts occur you write them in the connected rectangles.

Mind Maps have been around for centuries with some sources stating the discovery of Mind Maps as early as 3rd century B.C. These early Mind Maps consisted of pictures coupled with diagrammed text. Historians have found Mind Maps made by philosophers and artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Picasso. The current popularity of Mind Mapping began in 1950s to 1960s. Today, with the advent of Mind Mapping software and smartphone apps that help you brainstorm on the go, Mind Mapping is at an all-time high.

As noted above, Mind Maps are extremely versatile and have many uses. Authors use them to outline books and keep track of research and references. Business professionals might use a Mind Map to aid in avoiding information overload and to organize data as it comes in. Mind Maps help to categorize information and aide in solving problems.

Research has proven that Mind Maps boost brain performance and help individuals think with more innovation and clarity. In addition, Mind Maps are credited with boosting productivity and organization, improving memory and leading to greater creativity and problem-solving. It is believed that the brain’s cortical processes are utilized by making the connections between information and ideas visual.

Mind Maps marry the right brain’s creativity with the left brain’s logistics. By diagramming information or inspiration you are able to capture the ideas as they come in while also laying out a visual plan of action to follow. Mind Maps are truly the best of both worlds! The next time you approach a challenge that needs a solution or a project that needs planning, try your hand at creative Mind Mapping.

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