Tackle Life Together

A blog by Sally Waters

sally [at] homescrum .co.uk

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I love making mind-maps. Mind-maps can be used for whenever you’re trying to think about something. I use them for planning, but also to prepare ideas for public speaking and for writing, for studying for exams, and just to figure out how I’m feeling about something. They work for any situation where you would like more clarity of mind. They are designed to help express thoughts in a more accurate and quicker way than writing can, as they follow the same structure of how the brain generates thoughts.

One of my ‘pretty’ mind-maps, used to teach others about memory cycles
A slightly more utilitarian version of my mind-map I used in university for studying
Sketch of a mind-map I was planning to make for the accepting help post – still more elaborate than my usual day-to-day pencil scrawls

I learned how to mind-map from Tony Buzan’s famous book, and I’d recommend it, but if you know a full book is more than you’d get through then you can find a good video summarising the rules for making better mind-maps here. Here is my mind-map summary of the rules of mind-mapping:

The laws of mind-mapping: use colour, images, one word per line, go clockwise, have thicker lines and bigger words near the centre, use basic ordering ideas as the ‘headings’ on your main branches.

The thing that many people don’t understand about mind-maps is that there are rules; you can get a long way with an intuitive spider-diagram, but it will lack the grouping and clear visual hierarchy that a mind-map, with a little practice, can effortlessly bring.

I would recommend not getting hung up on how beautiful and artistic mind maps can be. Most of mine are scribbled down as fast as I can, and discarded later after I’ve used them. They lack pictures, and often colour (I usually use a pencil so that I won’t get slowed down by anything, even changing colours). There are lots and lots of digital versions of mind-mapping software these days, but still none which can properly put all the rules in or look the way you intend it to look as easily as drawing it out yourself.

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