Jul 162010

mindmap by Graham Burnett

Sometimes the most useful tools are the simplest. One of my favorite tools for organizing is a mind map. The mind map, a diagram of ideas, was popularized by Tony Buzan.

A mind map begins in the center of a page. Start with a word, drawing or symbol that represents the main theme of the mind map. As you think of an idea relating to theme, draw a line radiating from the center. Print a keyword on the line to represent the idea. This line leads to the topics associated with that idea. Each topic can have lines branching off to subtopics related to it. Keep adding to the map until you finish exploring your main theme. The final results can be practical like the mind map above, done by Graham Burnett. Mind maps can also be playful and even artistic.

Many people use software to create a mind map. I simply use a pencil and paper. For multi-colored maps, use markers, crayons or colored pencils.

Mind maps are versatile tools. They are great for brainstorming. Because they are non-linear, you can add new ideas as they occur to you. You can use mind maps to plan anything from a birthday party to a home business project. Some people use mind maps to take notes as they read. I’ve used mind maps for years to outline my writing.

Lately I’ve put mind maps to a new use: my schedule. I can organize my work by day or type of task or project. It’s a simple tool to help me plan the week’s work and see what needs to be done each day.