When you’re writing a proposal or blog post, you need an outline to work from. The traditional method is to start at the top with your main point and then list supporting points and details. But mind mapping gives you a better and more flexible way to create outlines.
Start by writing your main point at the center of the map. Now, brainstorm points that support your main point that are critical to include in your proposal. Once you have a handful of points down, take each point and brainstorm the details you want to include for each.
This is not so different from writing a traditional outline, but it gives you two advantages. First, you can see the outline from a bird’s eye view. You will be amazed at the results of looking at this from a different perspective. Looking at all of the parts, you can easily see if there’s one that doesn’t fit with the others, or notice that there is a key point or two that you had forgotten to include. This is harder to do when you’re skimming down an outline.
Another advantage is that you have some flexibility in putting the information in order. With an outline, you may decide to move one part to another. But with a mind map, there is no fixed structure from beginning to end. You can choose which supporting point should follow which as you write. It’s not locked into a structure.
You can plan out your entire proposal or other document using mind maps. Or, if you are a blogger, make an overall plan map with your blog’s topic at the center. Brainstorm sub-topics and narrower topics for each sub-topic. To make it more detailed, you can take each main sub-topic and create further sub-topics until you have topics for single articles.
An advantage of doing this is that you can see at a glance what topics you need to cover, and in a team environment assign different topics/sections to various team members.
I used to think in outlines. I used to take notes using outlines. Now I just start building a mind map on the fly on my laptop or iPad, or on any piece of paper I can find at the moment. There were times when I would go back and look at my notes/outlines a week after the fact, I would have trouble remembering the conversation and flow of the ideas. By looking at a mind map, my brain recalls the information, setting and the flow of ideas with much more depth.
The last post in this series comes tomorrow titled “Results To Expect From The Visual Impact of Mind Maps”. I hope you have been learning some new ideas and are considering trying out mind maps in your daily activity. Tell me your experiences and/or challenges of using mind maps.