Although the two look similar, mind mapping is not brainstorming.
Brainstorming is technique used to creatively generate ideas to solve a problem.
Mind maps leverage this approach but do so with more deliberately to aid studying, problem solving, decision making, project planning, writing, and presentation preparation.
Mind Map Rules:
- Start with a central idea.
- Branch line segments away from the central idea with one word/image per line
- USE CAPS
- Use colors to facilitate grouping of ideas.
- Find your own style
- Apply it
Bending the Rules
I’ve found that depending on your overall goal, all of the rules regarding mind maps are bendable.
- Central Idea: Sometimes it’s hard to see the central idea at first, and I’ve had times where I derived a central idea in the middle of creating the map. Although usually my response is “whoops, I could have done this a lot better”, there have been times where I ended up learning that I was creating a mind map about how to two central functions were interacting and overlapping with each other.
- Branching outwards: Branching: I’ve found that occasionally it’s easier and ‘funner’ to make one long sequence of segments to tell a story to my mind.
- USE CAPS: This is one rule I don’t bend anymore. I think caps work best, knowing that all letters will appear only one way takes a lot of strain off the mind creating and remembering the maps and opens you up to more dimensions of thinking. (And I find caps easier/quicker to read than lowercase)
- Using Colors!!!: I find black and white just as good and colors, so long as I actively use my imagination and grouping skills to separate concepts and ideas.
- Find your own style: This is the rule that yells to me, “There are no rules! (Do what you want!).
- Apply it! Next time you’re having a family intervention, planning out your next hot date, or just trying to figure out the meaning of life, go ahead an apply mind maps. I would encourage you to go ahead and use it throughout the day at every opportunity to really train your mind to rapidly come up with solutions or break down a large problem non-linearly.