March 07, 2019
Mind Maps have been described as ‘The Swiss Army Knife for the Brain.’ There are countless uses. In this and this series of posts I will list twenty-six from A to Z. Here is part two covering K to R.
- Knowledge ‘bank’
If you are researching a project it is hard to keep track of myriad data sources. A computer Mind Map lets you add embedded notes and links to websites or files. These could be spreadsheets, audio files, videos, text
documents or presentations. The branch structure allows you categorise and make sense of these far better than a disordered list of references. You don’t have to remember filenames and hunt through multiple folders to find a specific file – simply click the link. Another nice function of a computer Mind Map is the “pack and go” function. This collects all the local files plus the Mind Map and saves a single zip file with everything in one place. You can save this to a USB drive and transfer to another machine with confidence that nothing is missing.
- Lecture notes
When listening to a lecture it is easy to occasionally lose focus and miss key points. If you try to avoid this my taking notes you are likely to miss even more as, when you’re writing you’re not paying full attention to the next point. It’s hard to keep up. This is especially true if the lecture is technical in nature. ‘Live’ note taking (and Mind Mapping) is the hardest skill to master as can’t replay a point like a video or re-read like a book. Mind Maps do give you a better outcome than linear notes though. As previously mentioned, keywords are much quicker to record than sentences. A good way to develop your ‘live’ Mind Mapping skill in a zero-risk situation is to Mind Map TV news bulletins. These are structured like a well-planned lecture. Headlines (overview) followed by reports (detailed information) and “Our top stories again” (summary and review).
- Meeting minutes
One of the most time-consuming tasks in business is taking minutes from meetings, writing them up and then distributing them to attendees. Effective minute taking is a difficult skill to master. You must be able to rapidly record an accurate summary of everyone’s contribution and differing views whist still contributing yourself. A Mind Map is a far better tool than linear notes. As you are only recording keywords you can capture information far quicker. If you display the Mind Map during the meeting (on a white board or use software) everyone can be satisfied their points have been adequately represented. At the end of the meeting you can take a photograph of the board with your phone or save the Mind Map file if using software. Everyone can agree this is a true record of what was discussed and the file can be easily emailed and stored as required, thus saving many hours or wasted time over the course of a year. If ‘linear’ minutes are required for legal reasons it is easier to create these based on a Mind Map. You can also attach the Mind Map as an executive summary.
- Numerical analysis and personal finance
You can create a branch for each category for expenditure. For example: mortgage or rent, food, utilities, travel, charitable donations, entertainment, tax, insurance, clothing, etc. Next add sources on income. The Mind Map makes it easier to come up with a more detailed picture than you can achieve by compiling a list. If you end each branch with a number, Mind Map software allows you to export this to a spreadsheet with totals and sub-totals.
- Organising an event
Any event has a large number or logistical considerations. These can easily be captured on a Mind Map. Seeing everything on a single page and making associations ensures nothing is overlooked.
- Packing for a trip
Have you ever reached a destination only to realise you forgot to pack something important? Whenever Tony Buzan prepares of a lecture tour he will go through a Mind Map I created with him. Each item of clothing, documentation, equipment, toiletries, etc is included on the Mind Map, mostly in pictorial form. As each item is packed it is ticked off ensuring nothing is forgotten. Having everything on a single page means he can gather together things more quickly and easily than working through a list.
- Quick idea generation
Mind Mapping lets you quickly capture your thoughts with keywords. You are freed from the constraints of structuring phrases or sentences. A five-minute Speed Mind Map ‘brain dump’ is a good way to clear your head before focusing on an important issue. Conversely, a Mind Map can be used to access any exiting knowledge prior to engaging in study, strategizing or thinking.
A key issue when researching a topic is keeping track of all the different sources and structuring your findings. A Mind Map is a great way of connecting lots of disparate pieces of data, fitting them into a coherent whole and seeing the big picture. If you use Mind Mapping software you can link files, URLs and notes to branches to access source material quickly and easily (as noted in ‘Knowledge Bank’ above).
These are just the applications that came to mind for each letter. There are many others. I could have chosen Learning Languages for ‘L’ and Project Management or Prioritising for ‘P’, for example. I can tailor my Mind Mapping seminars to your business to focus on specific challenges. The sky’s not the limit (NASA use Mind Maps).