Mind Maps are a different way to take notes.
They differ from the standard method which you are used to where you write information line-by-line starting at the top of a page.
With a Mind Map, you don’t note information line-by-line nor do you work down from the top.
Instead, you begin in the center of the page and then expand out in all directions, like a spider web.
When expanding out, you connect the outer information to the inner with branches.
Below is an example of what a mind map looks like:
Looking above, you’ll see we have the main thought or idea in the center. This is referred to as the main topic.
From here we branch out with subtopics.
Within each subtopic, we branch out further into lower and lower levels with subsets.
This is the basic format of a mind map.
To illustrate with a real-life example, let’s look at animal classes. If you remember from school, scientists have grouped animals into 6 main categories – Mammals, Fish, Amphibians, Birds, Insects, and Reptiles.
They are grouped this way because of their characteristics. Characteristics of ‘mammals’ are that they are warm blooded, have fur or hair, and their babies drink milk from their mother. Characteristics of ‘birds’ are that they have feathers, a beak or bill, and their bones are hollow.
A mind map of the animal class would look as follows:
Looking at this mind map above, you can see we put ‘Animal Class’ in the middle as that is the topic we are noting. Around the topic, we wrote the 6 main classes as subtopics. Within each subtopic, we listed the details that make up the class as lower level topics.
This is a plain illustration of a mind map, used merely to help you understand the concept.
Benefits of Mind Maps
1. One of the main benefits of mind maps are that they are visual. As such, there is a lot you can do to make them so.
Two things include using color and adding images.
Below is an example of how the above mind map would look with these elements.
Looking above, you’ll notice each animal class is highlighted in a different color. Mammals are brown, reptiles are green, birds are purple, and so on.
Using color this way helps differentiate information within subtopics. That is, if we see a description in purple, you immediately know it refers to birds and not the other classes. The same applies to reptiles, if you see an item in green, you know it relates to that class and not mammals or fish.
Also, we replaced some words with images. Instead of writing out bears, lions, and humans, we placed images of such animals. This is helpful because words don’t translate over well in our heads, but pictures and images do. They make the information stand out, anything that stands out on the page, will stand out in your mind.
This is one of the main benefits of mind maps.
2. Another benefit is that mind maps works in harmony with the Brain.
The mind likes to connect information to other information. When you learn something new, that knowledge doesn’t drift around aimlessly. It is stored by connecting it to something else.
This is called an association.
You mind likes to associate information to other information – either to information you already know or information you are learning.
As you can see with the above examples, this is what you do with mind maps. When you use the technique, you connect ideas together to make it easier to learn and remember.
3. Yet Another benefit is that mind maps organize information better. If you look at the animal class mind map again, you can see the information is well organized.
We have the six animal groups listed as subtopics around the center, and within each group, we have listed their characteristics as subsets. This way related information stays together while unrelated information stays apart.
If we look at ‘Hallow Bones,’ you know it’s a characteristic of ‘Birds’ because there is a line connecting to it. You know not to confuse it with ‘Reptiles,’ or ‘Amphibians,’ because there is no connection.
This is very useful when you have lots of facts you want to keep straight or when you have complex information you need to break down into smaller parts so it is easier to handle and grasp.