If you think back to your school days then you’ll almost certainly have encountered a mind map at some point or other. These are a favourite among teachers as a method for memorizing subjects and keeping classrooms quiet while they get a well-earned break.
However while the classroom association may bring you out in hives, mind maps actually are very useful as learning aids, but also in a range of other scenarios. And they’re just as relevant to you today as they ever were. Let’s look at how you can start benefiting from them.
What Are Mind Maps?
In case you’re a little rusty, or your teachers never forced this particular concept on you, a mind map is essentially a web you create filled with ideas or notes. Here each point you write down will be circled to create a bubble, and then will be connected to other related ideas that will branch out off of it. So let’s say for instance that you’re learning about the Roman Empire. Here you might write down ‘Roman Empire’ in the centre and then have a bubble connected to that saying ‘Emperors’ where you might list each of the emperors you need to memories. From here you might then have more points branching out saying what each of them did and why they’re important, or the dates that they ruled. Elsewhere you might have another bubble coming off of the centre which might say ‘inventions’ and here you could link to the various inventions that we owe to the Romans such as straight roads and central heating.
Going further you could then use more connective lines to link the inventions to the emperors that ruled during that time. And if you had another area called ‘wars’ you might similarly link the relevant emperors and inventions to those battles.
Why They Work
Essentially all you are doing is writing down the different things you need to learn with regards to your central topic, but you’re doing it in a way that is highly organized and logical. What this then in turn allows you to do is see connections between the different topics and to cover them in a more logical manner.
At the same time mind maps are also said to work because they mimic the way the human brain works. Our brains work through a series of connected neurons which are strengthened over time as we learn and revise. With the mind map system you similarly link the ideas by theme and topic and this helps you to further reinforce those links and to build new ones. By creating an interdependent web of ideas, you’ll find that remembering one fact helps you to think of the others and you can even ‘visualize’ the mind map in your mind’s eye and follow the links to remember things you’re struggling with.
Mind maps are not just useful for revision, they can also be equally effective in a range of other capacities – for instance if you are trying to work through a personal problem or come up with an idea, then mind maps can be very effective at helping you to get the bigger picture and to come up with ideas.
For instance then, say you were looking for a new career, using a mind map you could map out each of the requirements you have for your new job – low responsibility, high salary, engaging, local, requires no further training, etc. and then use this to start getting more of an idea of what would make you happy and fulfilled.