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The Benefits of Mind Mapping for Busy Professionals

ByRyan Ayers,
business.com writer
|
Nov 28, 2019
Rawpixel / Getty Images
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Entrepreneurs can accomplish and learn more – and do it faster – by learning how to construct mind maps.

Everyone's attended a class where their primary responsibility was to memorize and learn facts. As long as you remembered all the facts and you could prove it – for example, during a test – you passed the class, but you may not have fully understood what you memorized. You most likely failed to retain most of the new information.

Mind mapping is a better way of absorbing knowledge. You can use it for anything from creating a plan for developing a healthy habit to fleshing out a pivotal business idea. It involves building on ideas that you already know and comprehend so that you can absorb new concepts with a real understanding and better retention.

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.

Mind mapping can help 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.

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.

A survey conducted by mind mapping expert Chuck Frey reveals that more than half of respondents use it for project and knowledge management, and almost 40% use it for strategizing. Some 92% of participants in Frey's survey express that mind mapping helps them to understand concepts quickly and clearly. It also helps them to share what they've learned with others.

A total of 80% of respondents have expressed that mind mapping helps them to share new ideas with clarity, and 81% of respondents say that it helps them to manage projects more efficiently. Also, 67% of respondents say that mind mapping helps them to discover the root causes of operational bottlenecks.

Mind mapping improves productivity

For business users, the most significant benefit of mind mapping is increased productivity. Survey respondents report that mind mapping increases their productivity by 20% to 30%. Over the eight years that Frey has conducted studies, the resulting stats have remained static.

Nearly 70% of respondents say that mind mapping saves them seven or more hours of work and learning per week. Around 30% express that it saves them three to seven hours per week, and 40% say mind mapping saves them at least one to three hours each week.

Creativity is essential during any stage of life, and mind mapping is the ideal tool for sparking creativity. Respondents to Frey's survey revealed that mind mapping has resulted in a 50% 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.

Mind mapping can make 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.

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.

How to build a mind map

Learners of all kinds can gain a distinct advantage by using the mind-mapping technique in tandem with cognitive learning theory (CLT). Before you start creating your mind map, however, 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.

Next, you need to develop four to seven primary branches. Your primary branches will represent important topics that describe the central idea.

Make each branch a different color, and make all secondary branches the same color as the primary branches. Make sure to 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.

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. As you work on the branches, try to keep in mind how much space you'll need to complete the full layout of your mind map.

There's a wide range of free or paid software solutions that can help you to create and work with a mind map. For example, MindMeister is a top mind-mapping tool that you can use to develop, visualize and share your ideas. ConceptDraw is a mind-mapping tool that caters to business users, and MindNode is another mind-mapping tool that comes with a variety of advanced functions.

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.

Ryan Ayers
Ryan Ayers
See Ryan Ayers's Profile
Ryan Ayers has consulted a number of Fortune 500 companies within multiple industries including information technology and big data. After earning his MBA in 2010, Ayers also began working with start-up companies and aspiring entrepreneurs with a keen focus on sustainable scaling, professional development and business growth.
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