Use Mind Maps to Organize Your Creative Thinking
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When you need to organize your thoughts, you probably make notes the old fashioned way, writing down everything you think is important. If you want to improve your ability to generate new creative ideas, try the technique of making mind maps to organize your thoughts.
There are several techniques that can help you boost your ability to think creatively. One of these is the technique which is sometimes called mind mapping, or making learning maps.
By using the mind map or learning map technique, you get to instantly see the relationship of all your ideas to each other at a glance. You get to see and make new connections you might otherwise miss.
When you try to organize your thoughts by writing them down the traditional way, it’s a very passive process. Simply taking notes does not get the brain very involved in interacting with the information. If you can get your brain to get more actively involved in organizing the new material you will remember it better and be able to generate new ideas.
The following technique for note-making is particularly effective for people who are highly visual. This method of making notes is sometimes called “mind-mapping” or making a “learning map”.
Although it takes some practice to use mind-mapping effectively, most people who use it find they can retain and remember far more information with a lot less work. They can also become far more creative with the facts they are trying to organize.
The essence of the learning-map (also known as “memory-map”, or “mind-map”) technique is quite simple. You will need a blank piece of paper, the larger the better. You will need at least one pen, more if you want to use a variety of colors.
You will be trying to fill the entire page with your notes, so it is important to keep the size of your writing quite small. With practice you should be better able to judge what size of writing will work effectively.
As you are trying to organize your thoughts about a subject, decide what you think the central theme is. For example, you might be listening to a lecture where you decide the central theme seems to be, “Conditions in Europe on the eve of World War 2” Or you might be trying to decide, “What are all the ways I can generate a second income?”
Once you have decided what the central theme is, jot down the words in the center of the page, and draw a circle around the main theme. Don’t try to write down a sentence or a paragraph–just get down enough of the key words that will bring the ideas back into you mind.
Keep listening or reading and thinking, and jot down your other ideas as they come to you. Watch for the first main sub-theme.
When you come across the first major sub-theme, pick a spot on the page to jot down a few key words that sum up the sub-theme. Draw a circle around the sub-theme words, and then join your sub-theme circle to the main theme circle with a line.
Each time you come across a new major sub-theme, write down a few key words to summarize the new idea, and draw a circle around those words. Then draw a line to join the sub-theme circle to the main idea circle in the center of the page. Eventually you will have a circle in the center with several spokes radiating from it.
The lines or spokes don’t have to be straight, and they can be of any length required. The “circles” don’t have to be circles; they can be squares, triangles, or oval squiggles if you prefer. You can use different colors to help you organize the ideas better.
When you generate a new idea, you will find that some of your ideas are additional supporting details that clarify or illustrate one of the sub-themes you have already identified. In this case you will write these “sub-sub-themes” down using just a few words, enclose them in a circle or squiggle, and link them to their sub-theme with a line.
Eventually your sub-theme circles may have many spokes radiating from them as the author or lecturer continues to present his ideas. At a glance you will be able to take in the dominant themes of the talk and the underlying organizational structure of the ideas.
When you make a mind map or a learning map of all your notes, you create a very visual document that differs a lot from traditional methods of making notes for class.
People who learn very well visually will particularly benefit from the way that learning maps clearly show the relationships between main themes, sub-themes and supporting facts and ideas. It can also help you understand connections between existing facts and possibilities, and that is the essence of creative thinking!
Try this method and see if this is creativity enhancing technique works best for you!