What is a Mind Map?

A Mind Map is a powerful graphic technique that provides a universal key to unlocking the potential of the brain. It harnesses the full range of cortical skills – word, image, number, logic, rhythm, colour and spatial awareness – in a single, uniquely powerful manner. In so doing, it gives you the freedom to roam the infinite expanses of your brain. The Mind Map can be applied to every aspect of life where improved learning and clearer thinking will enhance human performance.

Originated in the late 1960’s by Tony, Mind Maps have now been adopted by millions of people around the world – from the ages of 5 to 105 – whenever they wish to maximize the efficient use of their brainpower.

The Laws of Mind Mapping

  1. Start to draw in the centre of a blank, unlined page of paper, with an image of the desired topic, using at least three colours.
  2. Use images, symbols, codes and dimension throughout your Mind Map.
  3. Select key words and print – using capital letters.
  4. Each word/image must stand alone, on its own line.
  5. The lines must be connected, starting from the central image. In the centre, the lines are thicker, organic and flowing, becoming thinner as they radiate outwards.
  6. Make the lines the same length as the word/image.
  7. Use colours – your own code- throughout the Mind Map.
  8. Develop your own personal style of Mind Mapping.
  9. Use emphasis and show associations between different related topics in your Mind Map.
  10. Keep the Mind Map clear by using numerical order or outlines to sur- round your branches.

How to Mind Map

  1. Place a large white sheet of paper horizontally, or use a Mind Map pad.
  2. Gather a selection of coloured pens, ranging from thin nib to highlighter.
  3. Select the topic, problem or subject to be Mind Mapped. This will be the basis of your central image.
  4. Gather any materials, research or additional information that is needed, so that you have all the facts at your fingertips. Now start to draw in the centre of your page.
  5. Start in the centre with an unframed image – approximately 11/2 inches (3cm) high and wide for A4 and 4 inches (I 0 cm) for A3.
  6. Use dimension, expression and at least three colours in the central im- age in order to attract attention and aid memory.
  7. Make the branches closest to the centre thick, attached to the image, and ‘wavy’ (organic). Place the Basic Ordering Ideas (BOI’s) or chapter headings on those branches.
  8. Branch thinner lines off the end of the appropriate BOI in order to hold supporting data.
  9. Use images wherever you find it is possible.
  10. The image or word should always sit on a line of the same length.
  11. Use different colours as your own special code to show people, places, topics, themes, dates and to make the Mind Map more attractive visually.
  12. Capture all your ideas, or those that others have contributed, then edit, reorganise, make more beautiful, elaborate, or clarify as a second and yet further advanced stage of thinking.

Similarly to a road map, a Mind Map will:

  • Give you an overview of a large subject/area.
  • Enable you to plan routes/make choices.
  • Let you know where you are going, and where you have been.
  • Gather and hold large amounts of data.
  • Encourage daydreaming and problem-solving by looking for creative pathways.
  • Be enjoyable to look at, read, muse over and remember.

Uses and Benefits of Mind Mapping

  1. Learning – Reduce those ‘tons of work’. Feel good about study, review and exams. Develop confidence in your learning abilities.
  2. Overviewing – See the whole picture, the global overview, at once. Understand the links and connections.
  3. Concentrating – Focus on the task for better results.
  4. Memorising – Easy recall. ‘See’ the information in your mind’s eye.
  5. Organising – Parties, holidays, projects, etc. Make it make sense to you.
  6. Presenting – Speeches become clear, relaxed and alive. You can be at your best.
  7. Communicating – Communicate in all forms with clarity and conciseness.
  8. Planning – Orchestrate all aspects, from beginning to end, on one piece of paper.
  9. Meetings – From planning to agenda, chairing, taking the minutes … these jobs can be completed with speed and efficiency.
  10. Training – From preparation to presentation, make the job easier.
  11. Thinking – The Mind Map will become a concrete record of your thoughts at any stage of the process.
  12. Negotiating – All the issues, your position and manoeuvrability on one sheet.
  13. Brain Blooming – The new brain-storming, in which more thoughts are generated and appropriately assessed. It is often assumed that the greater the quantity of ideas generated, the more the quality declines. In fact, the reverse is true. The more you generate ideas and the greater the quantity, the more the potential quality increases. This is a key lesson in understanding the nature of your own creativity.
  14. Lectures – When you attend a lecture, use a Mind Map to keep a vivid visual memento of it.

As a young child Tony loved the idea of taking notes and of learning. By the time he was a teenager his thinking was already getting into a mess, and he began to hate anything to do with study, especially note-taking. He began to notice the extraordinary paradox that the more notes he took the worse his studies and memory became. In an effort to improve matters he began to underline key words and ideas in red and to put important things in boxes. Magically, his memory began to improve.

In his first year of university, he was still struggling. It was then that he became fascinated by the Greeks, for he learned that they had developed memory Systems that enabled them to recall perfectly hundreds and thousands of facts. The Greek memory systems were based on Imagination and Association, which he noticed to his amusement and concern were absent from my own notes! He then began to notice that everyone around him was taking the same kind of crowded, one-colour and monotonous notes as he was.

As Tony says, “None of us was using the principles of Imagination and Association – we were all in the same sinking boat! I suddenly realised that in my head and the collective ‘global brain’, there was a gigantic log-jam that needed a new note – taking and thinking tool to unblock it. I set out in search of a thinking tool that would give us the freedom to think in the way we were designed to think.

I began to study every subject I could, especially psychology. In psychology I discovered that there were two main things important to the brain during learning: Association and Imagination. Similar to the Greeks! By now I was becoming fascinated by my brain and what I realised were its power and potential. The power and potential were both much greater than I had thought. I began to focus on memory, note-taking and creativity, as it seemed that the answer to my quest would lie with them.

I quickly discovered that most of the great thinkers, especially Leonardo da Vinci, used pictures, codes and connecting lines in their notes. They ‘doodled’ and thus made their notes come alive. During all these explorations, I would often wander in nature, where I found it much easier to think, imagine and dream. It began to dawn on me that, as we are part of nature, our thinking and note-taking must relate to nature and must reflect nature; we must mirror the universal laws of nature in our own functioning!

There was only one possible solution to my dilemma. The thinking tool had to apply to the full range of human daily activities, and had to be based on the way the brain naturally wants to work. I needed something that reflected the processes of nature and how our brains naturally work rather than something that put us in a mental strait-jacket by forcing us to work against our natural design. What emerged was a star-like, simple, and beautiful tool that did reflect the natural creativity and radiance of our thinking processes.

The first Mind Map was born!