What good is MindMapping ?

By johannatime On August 10, 2015 Under Productivity vs Procrastination

You may have seen people doing it, you may have even done it yourself. Mindmapping. It is one of the most productive techniques for the office, the studio, home and anywhere. Mindmapping is the most effortless yet effective way of notetaking and communication in this world.

What is mindmapping?

Mindmapping is an intuitive way to express ideas, thoughts, facts, opinions, etc. in writing and words, but without using grammar. Instead, you use colour, symbols, small drawings, key words or short sentences and wavy lines and arrows to draw connections and relationships, see for example the mindmap I made for brainstorming about this blogpost. I guess it’s called mindmapping because thoughts in your mind are not organised in a linear way, so drawing them into a schedule rather than a linear story is more accurate.

Why bother?

The point of written communication is multifold, but comes down to bringing a message across, explaining something complicated, setting out an opinion, or responding to questions. So in most cases, the goal of any written communication is not about displaying correct grammar or complicated sentence structures. It is about clarity and understanding.

Mindmapping is better

The essential key factor that makes mindmapping better than linear written communication, has to do with loss of understanding when processing thoughs, information and text. When you process information, whether that is from your own mind or from an external source like an article, and you want to capture your understanding for later reference, you need to make an effort to:

  1. Translate words and thoughts into knowlegde and understanding;
  2. Then translate your understanding in order to express them in words (your notes for further reference);
  3. And when you read your notes back, you’ll need to translate them again, back into understanding.

With every translation, information erodes. Also, you use up time, energy and focus. And as a professional, you know those are precious and limited resources.

When mindmapping your way around, on the other hand, you:

  1. Express your understanding of the words and thoughs intuitively into a visual representation, using symbols, color, key words and lines.
  2. The mindmap you have created instantly brings back your understanding the moment you see it.

So you can skip the translation twice.

Instead of text, you can make mindmaps for project plans, to do lists, reports, checklists, summaries from articles, minute taking, training programs, recipes, instructions, any brainstorm, strategic plans, etcetera. Options are endless. It’s fun to use paper and texters, but some digital tools like Mindmanager and Mindmeister make your maps shareable and searchable.

Exceptions

Sure, sometimes it matters a great deal how things are written down. The most obvious example would be legal texts, where no variable interpretaion is preferred. And of course writing poetry or a novel, where words, grammar and sentence structure is rather an art form.

Would mindmapping work for you? Would you consider learning it as a productive habit? Please share in the comments below:

Johanna Jansen

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Tuli
    August 11, 2015
    10:38 am #comment-1

    This is exactly what I need right now! I’m going to try it this week. 🙂 Great tips, Johanna, thanks for sharing them.

  2. Danielle
    February 11, 2016
    10:21 am #comment-3

    Hi Johanna, this is Danielle, I met you at your farewell (worked with Pieter)
    – I keep taking on more work so thought I’d better come here for some tips
    – I love mindmapping, and put my entire medical degree knowledge into a mind-map, but I think electronic mind-mapping tools can be deceptive:

    – they’re great for rearranging thoughts till they’re logical, for example when you’re about to write a publication
    – they’re very searchable
    but….

    If you want deeper thinking, you really have to draw out your own mind map, with pen(s) and paper, or else you won’t really make new connections and express your knowledge.

    Thanks for posting!
    D

    • johannatime
      February 18, 2016
      4:34 pm #comment-4

      Thank you Danielle, for commenting! I agree, mindmapping works best when done with (colour) pens on paper! They say it works even better when listening to baroque music, because it makes the left and right hemisphere work together nicely. I keep mindmapping manually in silence 😉

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