Mind Mapping Techniques to Maximize Business Productivity

Learn to Use Different Mind Mapping Techniques to Increase your Productivity

Remember that time when you landed on a Wikipedia article about Sweden and ended up two hours later, reading the entry for voodoo in Hawaii?

That’s our brain in action every time it is exposed to any kind of stimuli. It forms associations between the central idea it is considering (for example, a chair) and ventures into related topics (wood, cushion, trees, forests, deforestation, Louis XIV, power, Game of Thrones, fantasy) at virtually the speed of light.

Which is why, when you are considering or mulling a new idea, studying hard to understand concepts for a test, learning new languages, or writing a blog post it is inefficient to think and write linearly, point by point.

Instead, a better option is to use mind maps, which look something like this.

This mind map is designed by hand, but you can also use software like MindManager to create your own mind map.

Each of these two methods have their own pros and cons.

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Table of Contents

  1. By Hand vs. Software
  2. Techniques
  3. Central Start
  4. Spaghetti on the Wall
  5. Drill Down
  6. Structure First
  7. Business Productivity

Mind mapping by hand versus mind mapping by software

If you have never seen a mind map before this is what they look like.

There are several benefits to using pen and paper to create a mind map.

  • You can get your thoughts out more quickly without having to open an app or a browser window; simply pick up your pen and start sketching as soon as your ideas hit you.
  • Drawing the branches of the mind map out can help in recall. The very action engages all your senses, making it easier for you to connect with the ideas you are sketching on paper.
  • Hand drawn mind maps have your own style and individuality. They cannot be replicated by any software and will always be a custom piece of art. For example, check out the mind map in the previous section: it’s unique and beautiful.
  • If you pick up the art of hand drawing mind maps you don’t even need colored pencils or a sketchbook, as long as there is a napkin at hand.
  • You can also create your hand drawn mind maps anywhere you want without getting bogged down by the constraints of technology.

On the other hand you might want to use software tools to create a mind map because of a whole bunch of reason like:

  • Ability to add links and attachments: You might want to collate information from multiple sources like web pages, files, folders or links to individual e-mail messages in your mind map, especially when you are researching something. A hand drawn mind map won’t help you here.
  • Add notes: You can use notes to elaborate ideas and concepts without cluttering the visible section of your mind map. Most mind mapping software will let you add anything, from a single sentence to several paragraphs, along with links to your notes.
  • Filter content: When you are planning complex projects, you will likely generate large, complex mind maps. To stay organized and on track you can filter the map content based on allocated tasks so that you immediately see pending tasks and who is responsible for them. You can also set filters to isolate items pertaining to one single person or a particular business unit depending on the filters you have chosen.
  • Easily export to other programs/formats: With our Zapier integration (unique in the mind mapping space), you can send your map content to hundreds of online apps…You can also receive content from online apps directly in your maps (e.g. when a deal closes in your CRM app, update your dashboard map, when someone completes a critical task on your project, receive an update in your project map, etc...)
  • Your Map Evolves With You: No need to redraw your map every time you learn something new or want to make a change. Need to add a new client? Adding a new piece to your project? Throw that eraser away and just make a few clicks to add new pieces to your mind map.

Regardless of where you create your mind map (by hand or using software) you will also need to figure out how to create it.

Check out our blog post on Simplifying MindMananger Maps

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Techniques for mind mapping

You can create your mind map using different techniques depending on how much information you already have about the topic at hand, the level of your expertise in the topic and the context in which the mind map is supposed to be used.

We are going to cover four techniques which have quite a bit of overlap.

1. Central start method
Here is the downlow on how to draw a mind map using this technique:

If you are using paper start at the center of a blank page so that you will have enough space to extend the mind map in multiple directions. If you are using software this step is moot.

Horizons of focus

To aid your imagination and give your brain some inspiration use an image for your core idea. Using an image can also keep the attention of your audience on your mind map and keep things from getting boring.

Then connect your main branches to the central image and then connect your second- and third-level branches to the first and second levels while keeping it all relevant. You can also create direct connections between items on the same level.

2. Spaghetti on the Wall Method
If you are tackling a new topic where you don’t have any idea about how different concepts relate to each other you can basically do a brain dump of the information gathered through research.

After you are confident that all the raw material has been collected you can get down to the job of actually creating a structure around the central idea, and link the concepts to one another.

Mind map example

This method offers you the opportunity to go more free form with your ideas and create connection between disparate elements in your mind map.

Check out some of these mind map ideas: https://www.pinterest.com/search/pins/?q=mindmap%20examples

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3. Drill down method
In this method of constructing a mind map you will take a central idea and break into down into a number of sub topics at the first level. Take one sub-topic, and then break it down into as many levels and as you can, with ever increasing detail.

Planning effective meetings

Once you can go no further, return back to another sub topic at the first level and rinse and repeat the entire process.

The drill down method lets you explore one particular topic in the mind map in great detail without having to worry about completing the entire diagram.

4. Structure first method
In sharp contrast to the previous technique the structure first method is all about building a methodical structure to a your mind map.

If you want to follow this method you will start with the central idea and break it down into multiple sub topics at the first level. Once you are done, you will tackle the second level for each of the sub-topics, branching into similar topics.

The structure first method seeks to maintain a uniform and balanced structure of the mind map and focuses on achieving the same level of detail for each of the topics and subtopics in the map.

You don’t have to stick to only one technique while creating your mind map. Depending on the topic and the information you have access to you can adopt a mix and match of these methods to show your ideas in visual form.

How mind mapping can make you more productive AND more effective

A lot of software claims to make you more productive. mapping can make you both more productive AND more effective. It doesn’t matter how fast you can finish your work if you’re working on the wrong project! Mapping out your work enables you to better see the big picture, prioritize and drill into the details that matter.

Organize your thoughts and ideas before you start your next big project, write your next document, outline your next presentation and you’ll find yourself more focused, communicating more clearly and getting more of your critical work done and done well!

Because mind maps combine words, images, numbers, and color they are 6 times better for remembering information than words alone! (research source)

In the workplace those gains add up, enabling you to memorize and grasp key concepts much more rapidly without being overwhelmed by information overload.

Mind maps can be fun to create and for many people it turns boring and dreary data into works of art. This mind map about solar energy, for example condenses extremely dense information into an easy to follow graphic.

Solar energy

Mind mapping is a great way to break down a complex project into easy to complete deliverables, it is also great for assigning different roles to your team members.

If you are brainstorming new ideas mind maps can be an invaluable tool, as they facilitate creativity and discovery of new ideas in a relatively short amount of time.

As mentioned previously mind maps are also great tools for allocating and delegating tasks to your colleagues, planning out a book, or creating a knowledge bank.

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