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I want to try mindmapping...

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  • I want to try mindmapping...

    I never had any teachers etc who encouraged this type of brainstorming on a project, area of focus, whatever. The specifics of what I know are entirely from a few website searches and looking up some older threads here. I'll likely pick up some type of book at my next opportunity though the thread on some of the inconsistancies with Tony Buzan's book make me think I will not read his. I figure when I get a chance I will just do some experimentation with some areas I want to clarify or just "get out of my head". Perhaps because I haven't done this yet (maybe it becomes clear upon application), I have a few questions.

    Say I want to mind map my notes from this class I am attending particularly for areas for personal improvement....We are today on the 27th unit and I have a book full of notes. Do you sit down at the end of class and just try mindmap for x amount of time without reviewing notes, do you go through a related section of several topics and then mind map that this point I'd have possibly 5 maps if I did it that way. Or would those of you experienced in this just take out a large sheet of paper and map what you think of as you go through the entire book at the end of the class?

    Also how long do you work on a topic? I ask because I've read the first 5-7 minutes are critical, but then do you come back to it as you have other thoughts? Or is it often so successful you have no further thoughts? And my last question has to do with the maps themselves....I hear that a lot of ppl go through them and extract NA out of them (sounds very useful), but do you file the maps away somewhere, or do you toss them at some point? I was considering using large sized drawing pads and don't want to get into a large storage issue, yet I can't imagine throwing it away if it's helpful.

    I am also just wondering on the different colors thing. I LOVE the diff colors idea and really see where it could add visual focus, however since I will likely do this on pen and paper taking time to switch colors and such sounds like it might break my concentration on the task at hand. Do you actually switch colors as you go, or go back and highlight in diff colors later?

    Last edited by Aspen; 08-22-2006, 05:28 AM.

  • #2
    Whatever works for you and for the particular project, really.

    For reviewing material, I think Buzan suggests creating a first map from memory and then reviewing areas where there are gaps. I don't use maps for that application much, so I can't speak from personal experience.

    I don't worry about time much, just keep going until I feel I'm done.

    Usually I'll keep the map for at least the duration of the project it relates to, the same way I would keep any other outline or project plan, and I'll toss it whenever I toss the rest of the project materials. There is no storage issue: large sketchbook sheets can fold.

    Artists switch colors all the time without disturbing their concentration. If you keep a supply of colored pencils or colored markers handy, it's really not a big deal to switch. I usually switch colors when I move to a different subtopic, and also go back and highlight key areas.

    Hope this helps,



    • #3
      There are a large number of books out on mind-mapping. Couple that may be useful:

      Tony Buzan - How to Mind Map - ISBN 0-00-714684-1 PB
      Steve Morris - Understanding Mind Maps in a week - ISBN 0-340-711744
      Nancy Margulies - Mapping Inner Space - ISBN 1-56976-138-8

      Each of these books gets to the action of mind mapping rather than looking into all the details.

      As to the implementation of mind mapping, you should try to note take via mind mapping. This would let you concentrate on the lecture and pick out the key points. At the end of the class, you should take 3 to 5 min to quickly review the mind map and add detail as necessary.

      With your existing notes, either turn them into one map or create separate maps for each unit. You may find it better to do the unit level maps as it will force you to really recall the information. Remember we forget around 80% of information within 24 hours if we do not actively review it.

      As to keeping or tossing, you make the decision ... if it's helpful kept it until it's no longer useful. Given the size of paper you are thing about, folding the finished map may be the best storage solution.

      On the issue of changing colors ... do it. Initially it feels strange but with a little practice it becomes second nature. It also provides a richness to the map that B&W does not.

      Good luck, give it a try and then keep at it!


      • #4
        Ok I made one...

        and I am pretty proud of it. We had a 2 hour review today that required a lot of discussion of past lessons and I decided to use a mindmap for my review discussion.

        I used it to review about 40 units so it is quite a large, involved map (but I didn't want to make several). It worked for me well enough for the review that I will be keeping it with this book for future reference (and several ppl asked for copies However, I did have a problem. I sat down last night with my book to map the main sections we've studied and first I didn't like my then I started over and made another one with categories that were better thought out. I made a few mistakes with categories (wrong color for the hierarchy and putting a few in the wrong section), so THEN I mapped out the basic ideas until I was happy with all the categories and sub-categories messily on that map and then I made a THIRD map which is the one that I added all the information to and took to class this morning.

        You are not supposed to make "drafts" of mind maps are you?? The visual representation was good at the end of it, but I felt like an idiot starting over 3 times. Has anyone had this problem?
        Last edited by Aspen; 08-25-2006, 06:55 PM.


        • #5
          Originally posted by Aspen
          You are not supposed to make "drafts" of mind maps are you?? The visual representation was good at the end of it, but I felt like an idiot starting over 3 times. Has anyone had this problem?
          Why not make drafts? The idea is to capture your best thinking in visual form. If you can do that first try, even on the large scale you needed here, you're better than I am.

          One of the rules of brainstorming is that you shouldn't discard ideas, because the point is to capture as many ideas as possible without cutting off a direction that you haven't really examined. But not all maps are brainstorms--the one you describe certainly wasn't--and even brainstorming is usually followed by an analysis phase.



          • #6
            I am currently studying, and my use of mindmaps various considerably depending on the subject. I often use mindmaps as a review tool - summarising the topic/lecture/chapter. I regularly discover that some branches are getting squished into a corner of the page. I seldom redraw the map, because it was the fact that I was going over the material that was the useful part of the exercise, not the map itself.

            It is useful as a tool to help learn and understand distinctions - Basically I am grouping similar things along a particular branch.

            I use colours coding mostly to distinguish what is heading / topic of the sub-branches. Purple are headings, green is actual facts that I don't necessarily know and remember, red is an example. Actually, it is all in one colour pen, and I go over it with coloured pencils later.


            • #7
              Originally posted by Aspen
              You are not supposed to make "drafts" of mind maps are you?? The visual representation was good at the end of it, but I felt like an idiot starting over 3 times. Has anyone had this problem?
              I've made drafts of mind maps before and I really don't see it as a problem (although it obviously takes longer). I find it's particularly useful to do drafts when I'm not sure of an area - redoing it is a form of thinking outloud for me and helps to clarify what I really believe, think or feel about that thing. If you're mindmapping as a way of reviewing material that you need to learn then redoing it will also probably help to fix the information in your head. So I'd see it as a positive thing rather than a mistake but if it bothers you to keep starting over you might prefer to use mind mapping software so that you can easily alter stuff as you go along. However, personally I find my best mind mapping occurs on paper because I can work larger.



              • #8
                Thanks guys!!

                Those are all really good points. I guess I need to stop looking at everything as pass/fail!! It worked for its purpose and at the end of it I had a finished product that did its job and that I was proud of. I shouldn't care what it took to get to that point.

                I actually considered as I was starting over the 2nd time that maybe I was a person who needed to use software since I was clarifying as I went along and because of the color issue I had once. I think I'll keep sticking with paper/pens as I really like the feel of "creating" that way.

                Thanks for the helpful posts!