Life / Can Do

Helpful tips to living a better life

Using Mind Maps

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Mind maps are extremely useful tools to portray complex ideas in a simple to understand and sometimes fun way. Our minds store information by association. When I see the color red, there is part of my mind that is thinking apples and fire. Mind maps are created in a way to match our mind’s associative thinking process and hopefully promote learning or communication of ideas.

I have found that the act of creating mind maps is an effective way to stir creativity or solve problems. In my job as a computer programmer I am often required to produce software that interacts with a number of different systems and must also meet performance, stability and security requirements. When faced with such a challenge often the most difficult part is just getting started. To help get the creative process going I will start a mind map and just start creating connections to key points of the project. I just get it all down with very little concern over organization or structure.

This process will often trigger topics that I hadn’t considered when I started. I put down that topic and branch out from there. I will reorganize the mind map as I see fit when it is obvious to do so but the key goal is to get it in an easy to read visual format that I can use as a guide to start building a solution. Doing this for 30 minutes is often enough time to map out a complex solution proposal. As I build the solution, I can refer to the mind map to see if there is anything I’ve missed or need to rethink.

I’ve also used mind maps for goal setting, organization, studying and project management. It has almost become second nature to me to start a new mind map whenever I’m faced with a challenge. I use the free version of Xmind at home and MindManager at the office. I have also used pen and paper which some purists believe is the preferred method but I prefer having semi-permanent electronic documents that I can easily update, copy and manage.

With a free tool like Xmind there really is no barrier to trying this out for yourself. Don’t fret over doing it right or following some kind of standard method – just have fun and see where it takes you.

Written by Tim ThinkAuthor

May 3, 2011 at 8:04 pm

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