Mind Mapping

by Gillian Burn

In a nutshell

1. What is a mind map?

A Mind Map® is a powerful graphic technique and unique thinking system devised by Tony Buzan, who is widely regarded as the world’s leading authority on the brain and how to use the brain more effectively.

  • Mind maps use images and colour and display key information on different ‘branches’ to help enhance memory and understanding.
  • A mind map starts with the use of a central image. Key information radiates out from the central image along curvy lines.
  • Further facts continue to radiate to the next levels or branches, key words or images being printed on the associated line. The branches connect to one another, forming an association of ideas, radiating out from the central image.


2. Uses of mind maps

Mind maps are an effective, fun, easy and versatile thinking tool for every aspect of life. They can be used to.

  • Take notes
  • Study
  • Generate ideas
  • Enhance learning capacity
  • Improve creativity
  • Problem solve and analyse situations
  • Plan effectively
  • Deal with information
  • Enhance memory
  • Organise thoughts
  • Improve thinking skills


3. Key principles

When creating a mind map, it helps if you

  • Use plain paper
  • Create a central image
  • Use colour
  • Use images
  • Use curvy, organic lines
  • Print key words on a line
  • Use only one word per line
  • Alter the thickness of the lines
  • Create the next level of thought and extra branches
  • Connect branches with dotted curvy lines


4. Getting started

Choose a moment when you feel relaxed and have time to enjoy yourself, and settle down with some plain paper and coloured pens.

  • Turn the paper sideways.
  • Start in the centre with a key image, making it fairly small and leaving it unframed.
  • Using different colours for each and curved, organic, wavy lines, add the main branches or key themes around the central image, labelling each branch with a key word.
  • Add further levels of thoughts/branches as you explore extra information.
  • Add images and symbols to make the information more memorable.


5. Using your brain

The outer area of the brain is called the cerebral cortex, each side being responsible for separate intellectual functions. The left side of the brain primarily handles logic, language, number, sequence, analysis and lists, while the right side of the brain deals with rhythm, colour, imagination, day dreaming, and spatial relationships. Mind mapping uses the full range of the brain’s abilities, encouraging use of both sides of the brain and thus helping with academic and creative success:


6. Looking after your brain

Mind maps will help you to use your brain more effectively, but you also need to take care of your brain and maintain its optimum health if you are to get the best from it.

  • Drink plenty of water and eat healthy, non-processed foods, such as fish, nuts and seeds, oats and brown rice.
  • Take regular breaks and exercise: do eye exercises, stretch, change position, stand up and so on.


7. Note taking in meetings and presentations

Mind mapping is an invaluable tool to help capture information quickly and accurately. It can help you to see how different facts link together by providing an overall picture/map of the situation, so you have a greater feel of a meeting’s objectives. It can improve your recall of action points after a meeting and reduce the time taken to produce summary notes or email actions after the meeting.

  • It may help to radiate clockwise, starting at 12 o’clock.
  • You might have a branch for each main agenda point.
  • Capture key words on sub-branches.
  • Use symbols for particular actions, such as a telephone call or letter.
  • Develop your own style, with symbols that have personal meaning for you.


8. Using mind maps to improve revision

Mind maps can help to make sure you are prepared for your next exam and, more importantly, that you are able to recall information clearly during the exam.

  • They use colour and association, to which you can add humour.
  • Repeating the information several times and in different senses also improves memory skills.
  • The Mind Map acts as a reference document to refer to during revision periods, helping to ensure your revision time is more effective and time efficient.


9. Using a mind map to plan a party

A mind map can be a valuable aid when planning a party. Organise the map with various branches, highlighting such things as

  • When you need to buy food
  • Arranging the music
  • Organising the venue