Technologies and industries are always changing, and as careers advance, professionals are finding unique ways to increase efficiency. Workers are now utilizing mapping techniques to learn new concepts and help entrepreneurs, creatives and leaders develop and retain skills in a time-efficient manner. Read on to learn more about mind mapping and how to use this technique in your professional life.
What is mind mapping?
A mind map can help you learn a large, unfamiliar body of concepts. It’s a technique that involves using both the left and right sides of your brain to absorb new ideas. The visual aid created during a mind-mapping exercise can help you to organize new information as it correlates to a new central concept. Once you establish a new central concept, you can build out your mind map with branches of related sub-concepts.
Eventually, you’ll create a hierarchy that shows the relationship between a concept that you already understand and the new one. Mind mapping works because it takes advantage of the natural cortical skills used to process and absorb new information.
Bottom Line: Mind maps are visual aids that organize new information as it relates to a central theme or concept.
What are the benefits of mind mapping?
Helps with retention and learning
Mind mapping enables meaningful learning, which occurs when you retain new knowledge by connecting it to existing knowledge. It forces your brain to make the connections between what you know and what you’ve just learned. Learners make this connection by mapping discrete pieces of information around a central theme.
Historically, the Romans used the loci visualization technique to absorb and consume new concepts. The loci technique involves developing mental visuals that enable an individual to recall large bodies of information, such as a speech.
Mind mapping works similarly, and it provides the same positive benefits of the method. This is partly because the diagrams used in mind mapping make it easier to retain information.
Meaningful engagement is essential for deep learning. However, most traditional learning methods do not promote meaningful engagement. Mind mapping works better than memorizing facts because learners participate in brainstorming, generating ideas and connecting concepts while creating a visual that is easier to remember. Mind mapping also encourages you to connect any new ideas with prior knowledge to contribute to a centralized theme.
Some of the most complex aspects of business are planning projects, developing knowledge search bases and strategizing. Mind mapping simplifies these kinds of complex business tasks. They enable executives to consume, understand and retain complex issues quickly.
The Mind Mapping Software Trends survey conducted by mind mapping expert Chuck Frey reveals that more than half of respondents use it for project and knowledge management, and almost 47 percent use it for strategizing. It also helps them to share what they’ve learned with others with greater clarity.
Tip: Mind mapping promotes meaningful engagement, which is essential for deep learning, by connecting new knowledge with preexisting knowledge.
For business users, the most significant benefit of mind mapping is increased productivity. Survey respondents over the last four studies report that mind mapping increases their productivity by 20 percent to 30 percent. Nearly 44 percent of respondents in the 2021 survey say that mind mapping saves them one to three hours a week.
Creativity is essential during any stage of life, and mind mapping is the ideal tool for sparking creativity. This is largely due to the fact that mind mapping helps to establish links between different ideas. By doing this, you can practice jumping between ideas and connecting them. Respondents to Frey’s survey revealed that mind mapping has resulted in a 50 percent increase in their creativity.
Mind-mapping practitioners say that the technique helps them sort through their thoughts and make meaningful connections during creative projects. Furthermore, the technique enables users to commit their ideas to paper quickly so that they can record emerging concepts before their creative spark dissipates.
In general, mind-mapping practitioners are shown to learn and brainstorm faster and communicate more effectively. These are all vital skills to have in the world of business and are valuable areas where professionals can continue to grow.
Makes you a better business professional
Using mind mapping, you can easily organize a complex business idea into a cohesive concept. By using mind-mapping software, you can significantly improve your ability to communicate ideas to organizational stakeholders. Mind mapping also helps answer any questions that arise, as you can better retain the information you prepare for your presentation.
There is no limit to the ways that you can apply mind-mapping techniques. For instance, project managers use mind mapping to present ideas to team members with more clarity, and marketers use mind maps to create advertising campaigns and editorial schedules. Pairing words with images help to aid understanding and clearly communicate your message. Additionally, presenters that use mind-mapping visual language are seen by the audience as clearer, more interesting and more professional. [Read more about professional development opportunities and how they can help your business.]
How to build a mind map
Choose software to use when making your mind map
There’s a wide range of free or paid software solutions to create and work with a mind map. For example, MindMeister is a top mind-mapping tool to develop, visualize and share your ideas. ConceptDraw is another mind-mapping tool that caters to business users, and MindNode comes with a variety of advanced functions.
FYI: There are multiple mind-mapping software platforms available. Check out a few options to determine which makes sense for your team’s learning style.
Determine the central theme of your mind map
Before you start creating your mind map, first determine the central theme of your map. Next, review your information sources quickly. Scan the titles, subtitles, headings and visual representations. This quick scan will help you to focus your attention and better understand complex content.
Once you’ve discovered the central theme of your mind map, write it as a title in the middle of a piece of paper, and draw a picture that represents that idea. Then, draw a circle or square around the central idea and picture.
Add primary branches based off your central idea
Next, you need to develop four to seven primary branches. Your primary branches will represent important subtopics that describe the central idea. Limit how many keywords you assign to each branch. If you choose too many keywords for the branches, you’ll make it difficult to retain information.
To help further organize your mind map, make each branch a different color, and make all secondary branches the same color as the primary branches.
Add secondary branches to your primary branches
Include secondary branches in your mind map to more fully explore the topics addressed in your primary branches. When adding these secondary branches, keep the important, general ideas as close as you can to the center of your mind map, while placing the more specific and less important information further away.
As you develop your mind map, remember that you only have so much space. As a rule of thumb, make each branch the length of the keyword you use for it. As you work on your primary and secondary branches, try to keep in mind how much space you’ll need to complete the full layout of your mind map.
Add images where possible
Using images will help with both visualization and memorization, both of which can help you retain the information and effectively communicate the displayed information to others. They can also help to link images with a new shape, adding more visual interest. Additionally, pictures often convey more information than a short phrase or keyword.
In the business world, it seems like there’s something new to learn every day. Mind mapping can take the stress out of continual learning and help you to maintain your overall well-being and mental health.
Today, the business world is a fast-paced digital environment. The speed at which information flows affects the way that people learn. Mind mapping can help you to absorb complex ideas quickly so that you can learn new concepts that enable you to capture fleeting opportunities.
Additional reporting by Ryan Ayers.