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How to Get Started With Mind Mapping

Mind mapping has been used to bring out the best of a person’s creativity and potential. It’s an important technique for visual brainstorming as well as idea development. In entrepreneurship, mind mapping can be a part of idea generation ,which is an important part of the entrepreneurial process.

Mind maps can also help to bring more creativity into your day-to-day life and enhance memory. Get started with mind mapping by picking a medium, starting in the center, allowing yourself to draw or write as you need to, and making connections, as well as other techniques.

Mind mapping allows you to brainstorm your thoughts without having to limit yourself to order and structure. What emerges is a creative tool that can help you to make and track associations which further strengthen analysis and recall.

Mind mapping can work in combination with research to combine and integrate complex information from different sources. It’s not researching itself, meaning that it won’t teach you anything that you don’t already know, but it can help to unlock some interpretations and understandings that you might not always think about. Mind mapping is an effective way of finding out what information and thoughts you have about your subject.

Mind maps usually begin with a central node, and thoughts and associations radiate out from the center using lines, symbols, and even colors and images. But one of the strengths of mind mapping is that it can integrate colors, drawings, items, concepts, tasks, and ideas, and bring them all into play on one surface. Research shows that new ideas come from the intersection of comparative studies and many different elements. Mind mapping is therefore a thinking tool. It strengthens the building of new ideas and associations while also affirming previous knowledge.


How to Get Started with Mind Mapping

Using digital mind mapping software might be more useful to you in the long run. This software can help you to save, categorize, and tag your mind maps. This will help ensure that they are searchable for future reference. Some programs even let you export your mind maps in organized lists. This way, you can build on them with traditional outlines or share them in a project-development setting.

However, old-fashioned mind mapping, using pen and paper, might be one of the best ways to get started with this visual brainstorming. A lot of people find that they can think and work more quickly with pen and paper, and the medium itself is less likely to get in the way.

  1. Begin with your central node. This will be the main idea around which your other ideas can form and play. Locate this main idea in the center of your paper.
  2. Form and write associations that come off the central node. Try to keep these short, a few words or a phrase at max. You will find that you remember the whole phrase or even the whole idea that you were thinking of with only a few cue words.
  3. Branch into other nodes with other topics. Don’t be afraid to link subtopics back to each other, indicating a connection or association.
  4. Add in colors, symbols, and drawings where appropriate. While these may seem like frivolous additions, they are actually proven to aid your recall. Not only will taking a little time to draw something help you to remember it in the long run, but this can often work doubly for those who struggle with drawing.
  5. Ask yourself questions when you need to develop something more deeply. Your answers to these questions will add to the mind map.


Common Applications for Mind Mapping


Mind mapping can make note-taking much quicker and more comprehensive as you read. This strategy allows you to pull out key topics and keep elaborating on them throughout the reading process. Attempting to take notes on a text linearly creates unnecessary repetition and disorganization.

Gaining Insight and Balancing Complex Subjects

When it comes to note-taking, mind mapping also allows you to more easily consolidate and add together information from different sources. This should help you to come to see the whole picture. This is particularly useful when reading many different articles on similar subjects. Or, when applied to more business research, this could be used to categorize market research based on different products, motivators, media, and demographics.

Developing Problem-Solving Skills

Mind mapping will help you work through and find solutions to a particular problem by helping you visually display different possibilities and outcomes. Also, it will help you develop problem-solving skills that you can use outside of the situation where you are mind mapping. Thinking this way will help your ability to find creative solutions.

We all want to be good problem solvers. Generally, problem-solving skills develop from a combination of experience and creative thinking. These skills allow people to be good at troubleshooting, thinking flexibly, and making techniques work efficiently. Problem-solving can, therefore, be a learned skill. One way to sharpen your problem-solving skills is to make associations while practicing your flexibility and creative development.

Jogging Your Creativity

Mind mapping is effective because our brains tend to see things that fit together extremely logically to be boring. Our minds are drawn to complexity, thinking things through, and connecting various ideas. When thinking alone, things that are too logically organized will often not keep our attention. This makes sense because they tend to play into our expectations. This differs from communication, where we prefer things to be clear and logical as we learn something new or different. Nonetheless, our brains like to answer questions, so stringing together more disparate associations not only keeps our attention but also brings out our creative thinking.

Project Planning

Mind mapping is a great tool for project planning, as it allows the brainstormer to understand the tasks needed to get a job done, as well as what’s actionable, and what tasks are contingent. Mind mapping can help you to pull together content for presentations and reports. It also tends to be a powerful tool for branding discussions. This is because it can incorporate design elements, statistics, ideas, and research all at once.

Ultimately, the more thinking tools that you have in your arsenal, the more versatile your thinking will be. The abilities of adapting mentally to new situations, solving problems on the fly, and working creatively to reach different types of people, are invaluable to entrepreneurs.

Additionally, mind mapping is an especially useful tool for those who have a lot on their mind or who are juggling a great many notes, tasks, and considerations. This is a flexible tool, meant to work with each person’s mind and needs differently. Give it a try the next time you need to brainstorm. You’ll be surprised to see what it teaches you about the way you think.


This article was published in 2018 but has been updated and expanded in 2023

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Rebecca Moses
Staff Writer: Rebecca Moses is a creative writer who can't keep from meddling in the real world. While living in Colorado, she developed a particular interest in small business production. She loves a writing challenge, dabbles in illustration, and reads to figure out how all things work and grow. Find her at RebeccaMosesWriting.com

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Find Your Way · Grow Your Business · Leading Your Team · Your Mindset

Staff Writer: Rebecca Moses is a creative writer who can't keep from meddling in the real world. While living in Colorado, she developed a particular interest in small business production. She loves a writing challenge, dabbles in illustration, and reads to figure out how all things work and grow. Find her at RebeccaMosesWriting.com

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