How MindMapping Can Help YOU
Reviews of the Major Mind Mapping Software Tools
No matter where in the corporate hierarchy you are, you'll find mind mapping
can greatly enhance your effectiveness and performance. Being able to clearly
organize your thoughts and ideas and create visual maps that can offer
solutions to problems, can be an effective tool in the hands of manager, chair
persons, HR executives, project managers etc.
There are almost no limits to the uses mind mapping can be put to in the corporate world. Software coders use it to help with defining solutions to a particular situation. Project managers use it to define goals and objectives at the initiation of the project. Those at the higher end of the managerial spectrum who are responsible for strategic planning initiatives make use of mind mapping to clearly conceptualize and organize your strategic planning ideas.
No wonder then, that mind mapping training is big business in the corporate world. Companies spend millions of dollars every year hiring coaches for the day who can help executives refine and streamline their decision making and planning processes.
Mind mapping in Project management
You can make use of mind mapping very effectively during the early stages of your project. Writing down a series of goals on a piece of paper doesn't allow you to explore the possibilities of newer goals that can be accomplished simultaneously with the one you have in mind. Jotting one of a number of sub ideas that generate from a single central idea can help you better define your goals and objectives.
Mind mapping helps you and your team to combine ideas during brainstorming sessions. Each person who creates his own mind map visualizes things at least a little bit different from his team members, adding new ideas to the mix. So when the project leader makes a final mind map taking all these ideas into consideration. It is a group effort as all ideas of the group are included in the mind map.
These brainstorming sessions that involve mind maps can also be used to evaluate the various risks involved in the project. Again, this is where a mind map can have dramatic benefits. Imagine that you ask your team members to outline a few risks or obstacles that they think affect your project. Chances are you will get one dimensional ideas that are far from unexpected.
Now, ask them to write the biggest risk that faces the project, and ask them to branch out from there. You suddenly see a dramatically increased inflow of ideas.
The issues that interfere with the implementation of a project can be better dealt with in an organized manner using mind maps.
As a project manager you can also make use of mind maps to get feedback about the project from your team members.
Mind Mapping in Strategic Planning
Strategic planning involves setting short term and longer term goals, areas where mind mapping can benefit immensely. Strategic planning using PowerPoint Slides and spreadsheets can be cumbersome. These are not always easily transferred among people. Mind maps on the other hand, can be used to create a single long term goal, and have several short term goals sprouting from it. Ideas on how to reach the goals can be included - don't be hasty in writing off a particular idea. It could open an entire avenue of possibilities and solutions that help you reach your goal.
The energy that comes from having a group of people getting together to create a mind map for strategic planning ensures a lively discussion and a free flow of ideas and thoughts. At some point in the mind mapping process, take a step back and take a look at your mind map. Look for sub ideas that look exceptionally promising. Take that idea out of the main map, and begin creating a separate mind map around it. Keep doing this until you have absolutely exhausted all ideas. When that happens, you will find that your goals and the paths to reach them are clearly revealed.
Besides these uses, mind maps can be used to make your presentations more effective and to help them stand out from the rest. Your speeches are clear and energetic, and your knowledge of your subject is evident to your audience. With mind mapping you can get rid of pre presentation anxiety.
Cultivate the habit of using mind maps to organize your tasks and assignments.
When you make use of mind maps extensively, it also enhances your communication skills. Communication problems which are the core cause of many of the problems in management are reduced as people are able to express their ideas better.
Even in something so seemingly simple as conducting or chairing a meeting, mind maps reveal their versatility of use. From organizing to conducting to recording the minutes of the meeting, everything is done in a systematic and organized manner that reduces time.
The fall of global boundaries and the emergence of newer economies means that never in post industrial revolution history has there been such fierce competition for markets and profits. As economies battle it out, the only companies that can expect to be successful are those whose employees have learned the art of firing their imaginations and making full use of their mental faculties to find simple solutions to complex issues. Mind mapping is definitely what will give them the edge and tools like MindManager and FreeMind are worth considering.
Mind mapping greatly benefits students who can use these brainpower enhancing
techniques for a variety of uses in learning. These can be used to take down
notes better, enabling the student to map out the information using visual
cues. They can help with the creation of essays and to memorize better, as
they enhance the ability to recall. The amount of concentration they require
ensures that the results of learning with mind maps are always dramatically
enhanced, and these benefits make for a more confident and assured student who
faces exams with confidence.
Teachers can also make use of mind mapping techniques to support student's abilities in writing and learning.
Most learning involves non visual methods and tons of words, which may not work very well for those who tend to retain material better through visual cues. Students who are taught to use mind maps are encouraged to explore the relationship between ideas, come up with ideas of their own and relate these, so they form a number of branches and sub branches that emanate from a single central idea. It facilitates better revision of learned material. Plus, it's an excellent group activity, allowing for a lot of collaboration and enthusiastic discussion.
How to use mind maps for teaching
You can either choose to give a topic of your own to your students, or you can encourage them to come up with one of their own. The latter encourages great enthusiasm, and might lead to greater participation from the students. The topic should preferably have problems and explanations involved, which is where the mind mapping for teaching technique is very effective.
Once a topic has been decided on, give the class a couple of minutes to think it over and look for possible sub ideas and branches from the main topic. Once the 2 minutes are up, they can go ahead and put their words onto paper. Don't encourage their mind mapping nor offer any support - it tends to inhibit and interrupt the mapping process. Once they have been able to get some relationships connected, they can compare notes with their classmates which is where the mind map begins to grow with the increased input of new ideas. This is also where the problems of language can be ironed out, because students who may have had a difficulty in finding the right word in English for a particular keyword can now learn the proper words that others have used.
Once the students' mind maps have been created, you can begin creating a mind map on the board from the feedback that you've received from the students. This is also where more language problems can be ironed out, making such mind maps especially useful in cases where students have not yet properly acclimatized themselves to the mind mapping process. As you formulate the mind map, problems students have with language are mitigated, and it makes the writing process easier.
When it comes to actually writing, students can create a mind map that defines the topic, and the various sub topics in each, the role of each paragraph, and the kind of ending the essay should have. They also need to know the context of the essay - who will be reading it for instance, so they can better analyze the ideas they want to include.
Once the mind maps are ready, get the students to work on their essays. Once the essays are done with, encourage them to exchange the essay papers, so they can read each other's essay which allows for a better flow of ideas again. Plus, it instills in the students the knowledge that everything he writes will ultimately be read by someone. This reading of each other's texts and essay should be followed by further rewriting - this allows for an enhancement of the students' learning process.
This is just one of the areas that mind mapping is widely used, and very beneficial. Students who aren't comfortable with the English language benefit, unlike normal learning which tends to discriminate against people with linguistic difficulties.
Here are other benefits that incorporating mind mapping in your training techniques can have on your students:
Students begin to find it easier to remember new material. Since the process of learning involves pictures and symbols and other visual cues, there is a greater ability to recall
Mind mapping involves the breaking down of information chunks, thereby facilitating better learning for the student. The mind at any given point in time is capable of having at least 6 pieces or chunks of information stored in it.
Mind maps help students identify triggers that help them locate possibilities buried deep in their minds. These triggers are useful for the brain to help capture and recall old information, thereby enhancing the learning process.
It's not only in teaching, studying, learning and management that mind mapping
reveals its dramatic powers. You can apply these techniques of developing your
thoughts and ideas in a non linear fashion to boost creative skills which in
turn, lead to better problem solving capabilities. Being able to present your
thoughts in an organized fashion refines your thinking abilities, making them
more sophisticated, and able to process larger quantities of information.
Using pictures and symbols to define your ideas enhances your powers of
recall. Your communication skills are enhanced in all spheres, whether at
work, with family or in social settings.
All these are tangible benefits that arise out of the regular use of mind maps to organize your thoughts.
Mind mapping and Creativity
When you look back at history and at major world leaders, thinkers, revolutionaries and other great minds who have left their stamp on time, you'll notice one common factor in them all - they were all, without exception, highly creative people. In fact, there is a close correlation between creativity and success.
The reason for this is not hard to understand. A creative person is able to devise non logical or out of the way solutions to problems. Most of us think logically, which is a major obstacle in the path towards creative thinking. We have been conditioned to think of ideas and their associations in a logical manner. Mind maps do away with the need to be logical in the association of ideas. In fact, when you're creating a mind map to solve a problem, you are encouraged to include as many ideas you can come up with as possible. Even ideas that may seem to have little or no relation to the existing theme are encouraged. These illogical ideas may present clear solutions to the problem, solutions that might not have been clear or apparent to you.
When we focus too much on what's logical or apparent, we tend to lose out on potential solutions. This tendency on the part of mind map users to look for out of the box ideas are what boost creativity, and result in the finding of creative solutions to complex problems. You may argue that creativity is inborn, and that it cannot be taught. But through mind maps, a person's latent creativity can be brought to the surface, thereby benefiting him in other areas as well.
Mind mapping and Problem Solving
To use mind maps effectively to boost creativity and problem solving skills, don't attempt to analyze ideas as they transfer to paper. Use different colored lines for each thought as it branches out from the center, and write down the idea associated with that line on top of it. Each line should represent only one idea of mind mapping is to be effective. To make the process more effective, add pictures or images wherever necessary.
Your mind map could focus on ideas like finding an immediate solution to the problem, your friends and co workers and what input they can bring to the crisis, and ways to ensure that the problem does not arise again.
In times of trouble, forcing your mind towards a solution can not only be a waste of time, but can also result in a huge amount of stress. Sitting down with a paper and a pencil can help in generating new solutions, thereby giving you more options to work with. Seeing your ideas and thoughts in color can further boost your problem solving skills, leading to more innovative solutions. When you have all your ideas on paper, you feel more confident in your ability to solve the problem at hand.
Mind maps are a powerful tool to boost your thinking powers; they provide a way for you to analyze your thoughts, which leads to greater clarity of thought.
You can create mind maps for personal development. Say for example, you want to focus on improving your health. Health would therefore be the central theme of your mind map, and could be further divided into physical, mental and emotional health, all of which in turn have their own sub themes leading out from the center. For physical health, you may wish to include better eating habits and more exercise in your daily routine, mental health could involve reading more and avoiding mindless television, while your emotional health could be enhanced by such ideas as spending more time with your family.
None of these are Nobel Prize wining ideas by themselves, but when they are all presented on paper in an organized manner, you begin to realize how simple it all really is. Once your mind map is complete, you will be surprised at how easy, simple and uncluttered the road to better health is.
The list of benefits and applications for mind mapping is virtually endless. Make use of its benefits to bring more organization into your life, and cut out the clutter. You can create mind maps for the simplest of tasks, to help you recall them better. Mind maps can be created to help you with remembering important anniversaries, birthdays etc. A mind map to remember important occasions can be created along month lines, with each month having some occasions that you celebrate. Or may be you have trouble staying within your allotted budget every year. You can use a mind map to organize all your possible expenditure, and by allotting money to whatever is only absolutely essential, so you don't find yourself completely out of cash at the end of the month.
You can even use mind maps to create your daily schedule. Ever found that you don't have enough hours in the day to get through everything that needs time? A mind map can help. By organizing your daily activities right from the time you open your eyes to a new day to the time you settle back into bed at night, you will be able to understand how much time you are really wasting, and how much time you actually need for each activity in your day. By mind mapping your day, you will be able to reduce wastage of time, and get more accomplished in the same amount of time.
By downloading mind mapping software, you can take the uses of this technique even further. Perhaps you want to streamline your collection of recipes, so you can find them without having to go through hundreds of recipe cards to find the one you want. Dividing the central theme, which is recipes into separate categories like appetizers, entrees etc., and then going with the flow to expand the mind map so it becomes easier for you to track whatever you want without wasting time - the uses to which you can put mind mapping are boundless.
Mind mapping can help you save time, enhance creativity, boost problem solving skills, encourage self analysis, and streamline your thinking processes. It's as a much a tool for personal development as it is a technique for enhanced learning or greater productivity at the workplace.
Once you get started with using mind maps, and begin to think more creatively, you will begin to find uses for mind maps in areas in your life you never thought of before.