Ever had way too much information swirling around in your head and no way to make sense of it? Mind mapping might just be your answer!
A mind map is a diagram that allows you to visually group associated information and show how it fits together. It is a useful tool for:
- Dumping information floating around in your head onto paper
- Taking notes during a lecture
- Summarising and consolidating information while studying
- Remembering information (the brain likes pictures)
- Planning by breaking things down into manageable chunks e.g. structuring an assignment
- Brainstorming creative new ideas to figure out what is feasible
- Problem solving by getting clear on the issue and the factors around it
To prepare for your mind map you will need either a largish piece of paper (A4 or bigger) and a pen or pencil, or an online programme (see below for some free examples).
- Start out by identifying the central theme of your mind map e.g. the topic of your assignment.
- Put that central theme in a bubble or cloud in the middle of the map.
- Now, using keywords and phrases only, put your main areas of focus or headings in other bubbles or on lines branching out from the central one – examples of some questions you could ask here are ‘what is it?’, ‘who or what is involved?’, ‘when/where/how does it happen?’ and ‘what else is needed?’.
- Around each sub-bubble, make a note of related information.
- Use different colours for different focus areas.
- Use different shapes of bubbles for each level of information e.g. the main theme may be a cloud, with circles branching out from there and squares branching out from the circles.
- Draw lines to link bubbles where applicable.
- Number your bubbles if there is a particular order that the topics need to follow.
Give mind mapping a try when you are next studying or need to write an assignment. It will really help you get to grips with your content and structure, so that your final result is a masterpiece!
Some free online mind mapping tools: