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Mind Mapping : How Mind Mapping Integrates Creativity and Organization

How Mind Mapping Integrates Creativity and Organization

By Jabe Ziino

Are you looking for a tool that will help you to think creatively while also providing a way to stay organized and goal-focused? Mind mapping could be exactly the tool for you.

Mind mapping is method of organizing information spatially on a map by structuring it in branches and multiple layers. You generally start with a single topic, and branch the main topic into smaller detailed sections.

Mind mapping has been used for centuries, but has recently become a widely used tool in business and education, in part because of its flexibility: mind mapping can function as a tool for brainstorming, note-taking, project management, research, and more.

This article will illustrate some ways you can use mind mapping to encourage your own creativity. The maps in this post were made using MindMaple Lite, a free mind mapping software available for download from mindmaple.com.

Brainstorming techniques

I like to record my thoughts in writing and blog posts. But often I’m not sure what to write about. I’ve found that making a mind map of recent ideas and observations can be helpful in generating a topic.

For example, here’s a quick and somewhat messy mind map I made of some ideas that have been floating around my mind recently:

fig 1

When I’m first getting creative I like to let all my ideas pour out without restriction. There’s a reason it’s called brainSTORMing — this process can have the energy of thunder and lightning.

There will be a time for careful organizing, but if I worry too much about structure right now, it might cut off some ideas before they even form. When I brainstorm I try to stay associative and intuitive, even if it means being messy for the time being.

Making connections

Now that all the ideas are out on the map, it’s time to get a little bit more organized.

One of my favorite things about mind mapping is that it encourages you to draw connections and make observations about the information on your map. All my ideas are present and visible without much structured prioritization, and there’s space in between the topics to fill in with comments and connections, unlike in a word processor where all your information is crunched together with no room to breathe.

Let’s imagine I want to take this brainstorm, and connect some of the ideas into a larger story I can communicate in a single blog post. For example, I notice a pattern about “mindset” — the challenge of staying positive during times of change and difficulty.

I can connect this idea to some of my recent activities that keep me motivated: my hobbies, personal goals, a focus on healthy living, etc. I can also add notes to elaborate with details on any topic.

fig 2

After making these connections, I have the outline for a blog post about work/life balance, with examples from my personal experience as well as current events.

Planning and Organizing

Another great benefit of mind mapping is the way it allows you to integrate the creativity of brainstorming with a structured system of organization.

For example, this map shows how students could use mind mapping to organize a project for school. They’ve created topics for checkpoints and deadlines over the course of several upcoming weeks, and have expanded each topic where necessary to provide important details. It’s organized where it needs to be, but unstructured enough to encourage expansion and new ideas.

fig 3

Mind maps like these are great tools for collaboration, since it’s easy to expand on a topic without modifying the overall structure of the map. You can create a map and send it to colleagues for feedback and expansion.

These are just a few examples of how mind mapping can be used. The only limit is your own creativity.

MindMaple Lite is a free mind mapping software available from www.mindmaple.com. Download MindMaple today and start mapping! •

© 2012 Jabe Ziino. All rights reserved.

9/27/12