Sunday, January 17, 2010

How I Use Mind Maps Most of the Time

Before my big Mind Map project begins to take on steam, I thought I might explain myself a little. I've been using Mind Maps for about twenty years, since I was introduced to them in a book club meeting. I realized their potential for note-taking right away, and frequently draw up a Mind Map before book discussions. Incidentally, I began using them for creating schedules and triaging deadlines, too. Later on, when I discovered Mind Mapping software at an education conference I realized that they were also great tools for presentation, both for organizing and presenting information, and I began using them at work.

Today, I use Mind Maps most often for organizing ideas and making connections between points of information when I write. I do a fair amount of freelance writing which involves research, visiting destinations and interviewing experts and public relations people. Information from all of these sources has to be organized somehow, and for me (a visual learner) a Mind Map is the most effective way. Not all my writing makes it into print or online publications. Sometimes I'm content to write about my travels on my other blog devoted to writing ( with photos and videos added. Sometimes these blogposts grow or combine to make bigger articles, but sometimes they just occupy space on my blog and remind me what I saw and what I thought while I was in a place.

The following picture is a typical Mind Map that I would make as an aid to writing about a place. I visited The Vizcaya Museum & Gardens in Miami at Christmastime and organized my information in a hand-drawn Mind Map. I like Mind Mapping software, and I use it almost always when other people are going to be looking at my notes, but I enjoy the process of creating the visual representation of my topic with colors, lines and varying font sizes when the Mind Map is just for me. Some thought had to go into the initial organization of this Mind Map before I started drawing. I decided to start with four main subtopics (History, Mansion Inside, Waterfront and Garden) before I started adding subtopics. The best Mind Maps have little pictures associated with their topics, but I shy away from attempting drawings, even the most rudimentary. I do enjoy using colors, and my brain tends to remember colors that I associate with concepts. I only took the time to apply colors to the first level of subtopics in the Vizcaya Mind Map, but sometimes I go a little crazy with my Crayola colored pencils (you'll see in my future posts here), coloring-in boxes and circles, reinforcing connecting lines, and shading entire areas.

So take a look at the Vizcaya Mind Map, and if it interests you check out the corresponding blogpost at I would love to read your comments, too!