How to use mind maps to improve your planning and writing process
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Do you have quite a few lists of “things to do” that you need to update regularly and lose track of? Or do you find it hard to brainstorm ideas for a new blog post or main themes for a new post? Using mind maps can help you improve your planning and make you more efficient as a blogger.
What is a mind-map?
A mind map is a way to represent information graphically. The main idea appears in the centre of the diagram and related ideas branch out from the central idea.
This way of presenting information building associations between ideas is similar to the way the brain works and it can help better organise and remember information. Mind maps can also include different colours and drawings or pictures that can make remembering information easier.
Mind mapping was popularised in 1974 by Tony Buzan.
When to use mind maps?
You can use mind maps for many tasks and different people may find them useful for different things. Some examples when you can use mind mapping are:
1 – To brainstorm blog post ideas.
For example, I have a category for “Pinterest” related posts on my blog. I could create a mind map with blog post ideas for that category.
2 – To keep track of complex information.
I have a mind map with the different categories on my blog and the list of blog posts that I have already published for each category. I have also included some other blog posts I’m working on. This is a great way to keep track of this information and I find it a lot easier to visualise than using lists or an excel sheet.
3 – To outline a blog post.
Each time I’m planning a new blog post I start with a mind map. I write the main idea for the blog post in the centre and start writing any related ideas that come to mind around it and expanding the mind map with as many ideas as I get. Then I select which of those ideas I want to use in the final blog post and I expand on those.
4 – To summarise information.
As a blogger, there are lots of new things we need to learn every day. Many times, I struggle to remember the key information. Making a mind map can be a great visual way to remember the key points.
5 – For planning.
Many times I have quite a few tasks to complete during the week related to different themes: school, work, family, admin, etc. Sometimes I find it easy to create one big A4 piece of paper with the different categories and associated tasks I can stick on top of my desk space. I then take a picture of it so I can carry it around with me. It helps me keep in mind the different tasks, even though I may also use lists for some categories (like shopping!).
You can use mind maps for many things. Try it and see which tasks you can accomplish more effectively using mind maps.
I like to do my brainstorming with pen and paper and most of my mind maps are created on paper and are quite basic (rarely I use several colours or pictures, although this helps remember information better). However, I transfer them to digital form from time to time if it’s something I want to keep a record of and I want to keep updating or if I want to publish the mind map on my blog.
My current tool of choice when I need to transfer a mind map to digital form is MindDoodle. It’s a free online tool that is easy to use and includes all the features I need.
Coggle is another great tool for simple one level mind maps. It’s easy to use and the final mind maps look nice. However, the free version only allows you to create 3 private mind maps, and it only allows one level mind maps, which is an important limitation. There are many other mind mapping tools available. If you prefer to use a downloadable version that works offline you can try FreeMind (free).
In summary, mind maps are a great tool to use to present information graphically in an organised manner that makes it easy to visualise and remember the information. If you want to find out more about mind maps, check Tony Buzan’s book.