Like most of us, I discovered mind-maps many years ago in school, when one of my teachers drew one on the board to explain how we should go about a particular science project.
Visually, it made a lot of sense to me and enabled me to understand every part of the project as it moved through different stages. It clicked intuitively with me, and I continued to use a similar formula to create and map out projects, events, content, and tasks. It remains an essential part of my monthly planning to this day.
I was recently working on a project with a friend and automatically started to draw a mind-map about what we needed to do, and she immediately responded with, ‘Oh my God, I love mind-mapping!’ At this point I didn't even know that my boxes and arrows had a proper name, so I decided to do a little digging into this diagram and why so many of us find it so useful.
Here's what I discovered!
Since mind-mapping has been around for a long time, it is used by the world's leading companies not only to structure long-term plans, but also to organise teams and categorise critical tasks, helping organisations become more efficient and profitable.
If you visualise an object, you may find that you picture an image, in colour, right in the centre of your mind. Any associated concepts will branch off from that; this is usually how the mind works, so working with it rather than against it will help us to remember and recall information. In fact, in one study on mind-map efficiency, researchers discovered that the benefits of mind-mapping when studying and revising included boosting retention by 10–15%.
According to researchers, there are three types of learning:
Making connections between new and existing knowledge is one of the benefits of mind-mapping because it encourages meaningful learning. The reason for this is because you add new ideas to your existing knowledge and gain a deeper understanding as a result.
A mind-map is often used for strategic planning because it's a very effective way to navigate through complex, multi-faceted tasks.
One study found that mind mapping helped students plan their essays and projects more effectively, improving their written work's quality, structure, and coherence.
When you present your work, mind-maps help you recall information better and challenging questions are easier to answer when the information is segmented and ingrained in a way that makes sense.
When presenting, the other important component of mind-mapping is that it visually helps bring concepts to life, making the audience engaged and enabling them to absorb the information more effectively.
According to another study, audiences found that presenters who used visuals were seen as clearer, more interesting, more credible, and more professional than those who didn't.
Mentally mapping ideas can help you build links between them, which in turn can lead to lateral thinking, a key aspect of creativity. Instead of working linearly, you can jump around and connect thoughts without getting stuck on one track.
Mind-mapping helps you learn, brainstorm, and communicate more effectively. These are all crucial skills to have in business: doing each of these things more efficiently will save you time and improve your results. According to a Mind Mapping Software Blog survey, mind mapping can boost productivity by 23 per cent.
A mind map can be used for a variety of purposes, from planning projects to organising your thoughts.
Here are some examples:
Whether you're planning your next big project or creating content ideas for a client, mind-mapping is an excellent way of learning and brainstorming concepts and ideas. There are heaps of free templates online to choose from or, if you're like me, you can create your own mind-map that makes sense to you.
If you’re looking for a way to create your own, check out some free templates here.
Interested in more productivity? You might like the How the Eisenhower Matrix Can Make You More Productive