Saturday, August 25, 2018

Mindmapping in 8 Easy Steps

Mindmapping is one of the simplest, most powerful, tools a person can have in her creativity toolbox. It is a non-linear way of organizing information and a technique that allows you to capture the natural flow of your ideas. 

Here's a five minute workshop on how to use this flexible tool. Try it the next time you need to write a memo, prepare a meeting agenda, or are trying to get a bird's eye view of a complex (or simple) project. It's great for planning vacations ... use a big sheet of paper and give everyone a crayon.

NOTE: Your maps won’t look like these ... 
neither do mine ... 
these were drawn by a graphic artist. ;-) 

 Step 1: Center First. Our linear, left-brain education system has taught us to start in the upper left- hand corner of a page. However, our mind focuses on the center ... so mindmapping begins with a word or image that symbolizes what you want to think about placed in the middle of the page. As the images get more complicated, you can click on them to bring up a larger version.
Step 2: Lighten Up! Let go of the idea of finding a cure for cancer, ending hunger, solving the problem or writing a report that your boss will love. Mindmapping is simply a brain dumping process that helps stimulate new ideas and connections. Start with an open, playful
attitude ... you can always get serious later. 

 Step 3: Free Associate. As ideas emerge, print one or two word descriptions of the ideas on lines branching from the central focus. Allow the ideas to expand outward into branches and sub-branches. Put down all ideas without judgment or evaluation.

Step 4: Think Fast. Your brain works best in 5-7 minute bursts so capture that explosion of ideas as rapidly as possible. Key words, symbols and images provide a mental short-hand to help you record ideas as quickly as possible.

Step 5: Break Boundaries. Break through the "8 1/2x 11 mentality" that says you have to write on white, letter-size paper with black ink or pencil. Use ledger paper or easel paper or cover an entire wall with butcher paper ... the bigger the paper, the more ideas you'll have. Use wild colors, fat colored markers, crayons, or skinny felt tipped pens. You haven't lived until you've mindmapped a business report with hot pink and day-glo orange crayons.

Step 6: Judge Not. Put everything down that comes to mind even if it is completely unrelated. If you're brainstorming ideas for a report on the status of carrots in Texas and you suddenly remember you need to pick-up your cleaning, put down "cleaning." Otherwise your mind will get stuck like a record in that "cleaning" groove and you'll never generate those great ideas.

Step 7: Keep Moving. Keep your hand moving. If ideas slow down, draw empty lines, and watch your brain automatically find ideas to put on them. Or change colors to reenergize your mind. Stand up and mindmap on an easel pad to generate even more energy.

Step 8: Allow Organization. Sometimes you see relationships and connections immediately and you can add sub-branches to a main idea. Sometimes you don't, so you just connect the ideas to the central focus. Organization can always come later; the first requirement is to get the ideas out of your head and onto the paper.

Have fun! And, let your ideas flow.

NOTE: My mindmapping book was published almost 30 years ago and I created this simple workshop almost 15 years ago so everyone could use this powerful technique. A friend wanted to pass it along to her workshop folks so I was delighted to find it still on the internet ... although it had been appropriated by a website that used it verbatim without bothering to attribute it at all. I'm just happy to find it in its original form.

In case you would like to pass it along, please feel free to send this link ... or click here for a pdf if you'd like to print it out and use it.