Time management has been a hot topic among productivity enthusiasts for a while, so finding a new and fresh perspective in the vast ocean of internet knowledge can be a bit challenging, but also exciting!
One such subject that in our opinion has been flying somewhat under the radar are mind maps, and their incredible potential to boost your productivity.
Put simply, a mind map is a visual thinking tool – a diagram that connects information around a central subject, goal or idea. Unlike other time management and productivity methods, the key advantage of mind maps is their simplicity – the way they represent information very closely resembles how our brains actually work. And since mind mapping combines both analytical and artistic activities, it involves both halves of our brain, engaging our cognitive functions in a much more impactful way.
What does a mind map look like, you say? Let’s take a look.
At its core, mind mapping is a form of presenting information in a way that minimizes the amount of time and resources it takes to search, analyze and, ultimately, understand it.
Presentations, design sketches, concepts, list of projects, and their prioritization, even a simple list of tasks or things to do – mind maps can be used with all of those to great effect, as long as you stick to the main principle of simplicity.
You don’t need much to create a simple mind map – just use pen and paper or a drawing app on a tablet. This works well when you need to get your thoughts out quickly, plus drawing will help you memorize everything better.
If your project is a bit more complex however, you might want to use one of the dozens of mind mapping software applications available. The most popular ones like Xmind and Freemind offer free versions with somewhat limited functionality, but it should be more than enough to get you started.
More advanced tools like Mindjet’s MindManager can be a bit pricey, but offer an unprecedented amount of cool features, such as:
Now that you’ve chosen a mind mapping tool for your project, it’s time to get to the real stuff. The main idea here is to have a very complex view of your project in a very visual and easy to read manner.
It may take you some time to adjust to a new way of processing information, but once you do, having the usual chaotic mess of ideas presented as a neat looking diagram will feel amazing.
Don’t be afraid to use pictures, symbols and different colors throughout your map to spice things up a bit. It’s a lot more exciting for your brain than just plain old text, plus adding some vibrancy will better engage your memory and creative thinking.
Your end result should look something like this:
These are just our recommendations. There’s no one standard way to draw a mind map, of course. Some suggest only using one key word per branch of your map, some like to add more text, while others put more emphasis on images. In the end, it’s a matter of preference, so feel free to go with whatever works best for you. If you’re looking for some inspiration, check out this gallery of beautiful hand-drawn mind maps on Mind Map Art.
Aside from the obvious advantages stemming from their simplicity and highly visual nature, using mind maps also has a number of benefits that might not be as apparent on the surface.
Mind mapping is a very interesting topic, and one that, in our opinion, deserves a lot more attention from the productivity and time management community. We have barely scratched the surface in this post, but hopefully what we’ve discussed here will inspire you to explore this fascinating subject further and give mind mapping a try.