November 20th, 2013 by schoolbound
This blog was originally published on August 21, 2013, but as exam times draws near it is a great technique to revisit)
If you are not familiar with Mind Mapping it is worth a look into. I first witnessed a coworker doing this in a meeting. From where I sat, it looked like he was furiously doodling and immediately following the meeting I asked him what he was up to. After looking briefly at his “notes” I could see how he mapped out the entire meeting we had just left even having never seen this technique before! By looking at one simple diagram I could review the hours’ worth of information we just sat through. Amazing!
Mind mapping is an easily learned technique. It is a visual way to make sense of a lot of information, from reading an article or your text books, or even taking notes during a lecture. This visual hierarchical representation in the form of a strange looking tree, allows you to comprehend, create new ideas and build connections. By using color, images and words, mind mapping helps you to begin with a central idea and expand outward to more in-depth sub-topics and ideas.
There are many benefits to learning and utilizing mind mapping:
All mind maps begin with a main subject or topic that the rest of the map revolves around, so choosing that idea or concept is the first step. Begin by creating an image or writing a word that represents that first main idea and then from there create branches (as many as needed), that each represents a single word that relates to the main topic. It’s helpful to use different colors and images to differentiate the branches and sub-topics. Then, create sub-branches that stem from the main branches to further expand on ideas and concepts. These sub-branches will also contain words that elaborate on the topic of the branch it stems from. This helps develop and expand on the overall theme of the mind map. Including images and sketches can also be helpful in brainstorming and creating the sub-branch topics.
This technique truly promotes creative thinking and visually represents your thought process. I am sure your psychiatrist would have a field day with some of your mind maps but that is a subject for another blog!
How do you put this into practice during a lecture or reading a chapter? Easy! Every lecture and chapter has a title, that is your main idea. As the professor continues to speak create a branch for each main point he is talking about, or that the chapter focuses on. And continue to expand from there. It helps to look at samples of other mind maps. Just do a google search and tons will come up. There is even software for mind mapping that you can find on the web, although for me I prefer the old school way of drawing them out.
Mind mapping is a great way to focus your attention and make sense of a lot of information, especially when you are feeling overwhelmed during a busy semester. Give it a try and see how it can work for you!