Finding time to explore what you think and feel … to know yourself better … is the best way I can think of to form a solid base for anything that you want to do. And the Mind Map, a tool with a long history that was most recently honed and popularized by Tony Buzan, can be extremely useful in this process.
Whether it be in time management, planning and following through on a project, or in academic pursuits, your efficiency and effectiveness are greatly enhanced when you can see the terrain as clearly and comprehensively as possible. And, as many have discovered, a picture is worth a thousand words!
So, what is a mind map? In general terms, it’s a method for creating a graphical representation of ideas or concepts. Here’s how Wikipedia describes the process:
A mind map is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks, or other items linked to and arranged around a central key word or idea. Mind maps are used to generate, visualize, structure, and classify ideas, and as an aid to studying and organizing information, solving problems, making decisions, and writing.
The elements of a given mind map are arranged intuitively according to the importance of the concepts, and are classified into groupings, branches, or areas, with the goal of representing semantic or other connections between portions of information. Mind maps may also aid recall of existing memories.
This 5-minute video offers an overview of the concept and practice of mindmapping.
One of the things that I find particularly helpful about this tool is that, by encouraging a brainstorming approach, it short-circuits any tendencies to insert a critical or censuring voice into this process. Mindmapping works best when it is exploratory, organic, and inclusive. The things that we might be inclined to censure might be key elements in a new insight or discovery … an opening to even deeper learning!
On his website Mindmaps Unleashed, and in his articles at EzineArticles.com, Arjen ter Hoeve offers insights, inspiration, and practical tips about mindmapping with a particular focus on time management, goal-setting, productivity, and … as a solid base for all of this … self-knowledge.
Personally, I find mindmapping to be a great tool for values clarification, jump-starting my creativity, thorough and practical planning, and for managing my time more effectively. I prefer the free-flowing, pen-and-paper approach when mind-mapping; however, there are lots and lots of on-line tools available for this activity, as well … including Google Docs!
© Copyright 2011 Paula Eder, Ph.D.