By: Joyce Wycoff
CEO, Thinksmart, Inc. and author of Mindmapping: Your Personal Guide to Exploring Creativity and Problem-Solving
Mindmapping is one of the simplest, yet most powerful, tools a person can have in her creativity toolbox. It is a non-linear way of organizing information and a technique that allows you to capture the natural flow of your ideas. Here’s a five minute workshop on how to use this flexible tool…try it the next time you need to write a memo, prepare a meeting agenda or are trying to get a bird’s eye view of a complex project.
Step 1: Lighten Up!
Let go of the idea of finding a cure for cancer, ending hunger, solving the problem or writing a report that your boss will love. Mindmapping is simply a brain dumping process that helps stimulate new ideas and connections. Start with an open, playful attitude … you can always get serious later.
Step 2: Think Fast.
Your brain works best in 5-7 minute bursts so capture that explosion of ideas as rapidly as possible. Key words, symbols and images provide a mental short-hand to help you record ideas as quickly as possible.
Step 3: Judge Not.
Put everything down that comes to mind even if it is completely unrelated. If you’re brainstorming ideas for a report on the status of carrots in Texas and you suddenly remember you need to pick-up your cleaning, put down “cleaning.” Otherwise your mind will get stuck like a record in that “cleaning” groove and you’ll never generate those great ideas.
Step 4: Break Boundaries.
Break through the “8 1/2x 11 mentality” that says you have to write on white, letter-size paper with black ink or pencil. Use ledger paper or easel paper or cover an entire wall with butcher paper … the bigger the paper, the more ideas you’ll have. Use wild colors, fat colored markers, crayons, or skinny felt tipped pens. You haven’t lived until you’ve mindmapped a business report with hot pink and day-glo orange crayons.
Step 5: Center First.
Our linear, left-brain education system has taught us to start in the upper left-hand corner of a page. However, our mind focuses on the center … so mindmapping begins with a word or image that symbolizes what you want to think about placed in the middle of the page.
Step 6: Free Associate.
As ideas emerge, print one or two word descriptions of the ideas on lines branching from the central focus. Allow the ideas to expand outward into branches and sub-branches. Put down all ideas without judgment or evaluation.
Step 7: Keep Moving.
Keep your hand moving. If ideas slow down, draw empty lines, and watch your brain automatically find ideas to put on them. Or change colors to reenergize your mind. Stand up and mindmap on an easel pad to generate even more energy.
Step 8: Allow Organization.
Sometimes you see relationships and connections immediately and you can add sub-branches to a main idea. Sometimes you don’t, so you just connect the ideas to the central focus. Organization can always come later; the first requirement is to get the ideas out of your head and onto the paper.
Uses for Mindmapping: organizing information and ideas for reports, memos, letters, novels or poems, “to do” lists, presentations, meetings, brainstorming sessions, managing projects, grocery lists, vacation planning, journalling, note taking … in other words for anything that deals with people, information or problems! The important thing is to TRY IT!!!
(Mindmap at the beginning of this article is reprinted with permission from To Do…Doing…Done! A Creative Approach to Managing Projects & Effectively Finishing What Matters Most by G. Lynne Snead and Joyce Wycoff)
Source: Innovation Network