If you’ve ever walked into a boardroom and seen a large diagram with a bubble in the centre and extending in all directions (and been very impressed or confused by it), congratulations, you’ve encountered a mind map. Mind maps are simplified diagrams which are used to visually organize information.

The beauty of mind maps is in their simplicity and their seeming lack of any kind of limitations. The complexity of a mind map can increase depending on the complexity of the information being represented as well as the complexity of the creator’s mind. In their most basic form, mind maps look like a sprawling network of diagrams that radiate out from a central point. The central bubble contains a general topic label, like service-oriented architecture. Lines radiate out from that centre to bubbles representing related concepts (for example governance, service-level agreements, lifecycle management, operations, repository, development tools and standards).

It is a form of visual outlining, which may seem superficial, but once mastered, it provides a powerful tool for managing information overload and the hyperbolic multitasking of the modern world. Recent advances in shareable mind maps take the power of this technique further, enabling groups to quickly capture and organize a massive number of ideas. Here are a few ways mind mapping will help you chart out a road to success.

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Boost Your Memory

At the heart of mind mapping is the striking combination of imagery, colour and visual-spatial arrangement, which is proven to significantly improve information recall compared to conventional methods of note-taking and learning. A study by Times of India shows that mind mapping can help children recall words more effectively than using lists, with improvements in memory of up to 32%. And according to a study conducted by Farrand, Hussain and Hennessey, it improved the long-term memory of factual information in their participants by 10%.

Foster Your Creativity

Ever suffer from writer’s block? Do you experience brain freeze rather than brainstorm? This is where mind maps can help you. Their spatial layout helps you gain a better overview and makes new connections more visible so you can create an infinite number of thoughts, ideas and associations on any topic – perfect for fostering creativity and generating new ideas whenever the mood takes you. A study by Al-Jarf confirms that mind mapping software offers a powerful approach for improving anyone’s ability to generate, visualize and organize ideas. The subjects taking part in the study reported that this tool encouraged creative thinking and they became faster at generating and organizing ideas for their writing.

Organize your Thoughts

A mind map can help you think with greater clarity to explore relationships between the ideas and elements of an argument and to generate solutions to problems. It puts a new perspective on things by allowing you to see all the relevant issues and analyse choices in light of the big picture. It also becomes easier to integrate new knowledge and organize information logically as you aren’t tied to a rigid structure.

Improve your Presentations

Mento et al (1999) observed that a number of executives made clear and compelling presentations using only a transparency of their mind map, without fumbling about with notes. They were also able to handle challenging questions with confidence. Their ability to handle the presented material in such an effective way was attributed to better recall of the information because it had been captured and stored in an integrated, radiating manner rather than linearly. They could also internalize it better because it was their unique representation of the information.

Mind mapping is the most powerful brainstorming tool available. The speed at which you can get ideas out and start working with them makes it perfect for a variety of projects and situations. Dump everything out of your brain; organize on the fly, then review, sort, and polish. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?

Pick up mind mapping skills online through mind mapping courses at betterU. This course from Udemy is led by Mr Barry Mapp, a personal and professional development coach, who has actually trained with Tony Buzan – the creator of mind maps! This is the ideal place to start your own fascinating mind mapping journey!