Record ideas memorably with James Manktelow & Amy Carlson.
James Manktelow: Hello. I'm James Manktelow, CEO of MindTools.com, home to hundreds of free career-building tools and resources.
Amy Carlson: And I'm Amy Carlson from Mind Tools. When you're researching a subject, note taking can sometimes get out of hand. You end up with pages of scribbles, which are often more confusing than helpful. Making a mind map instead of a list is a great way to organize your thoughts more productively.
Mind maps are also called spray diagrams, spider diagrams or spidograms, because of how they look. "Mind map" is the name given to this type of diagram by Tony Buzan, who brought this tool into the mainstream.
JM: Because mind maps are two dimensional in structure, they show you the "shape" of the subject, the relative importance of each point, and how the facts relate to each other. Being able to see all this on just one side of paper helps you review information quickly and efficiently; it helps you remember it more effectively; and it can really help your creative problem solving. Once you've learned how to mind map, you'll wonder how you ever did without them!
AC: So how do you draw one? First, write the title of the subject you're exploring in the centre of the page, and draw a circle around it. When you think of a major subdivision of the topic, or an important fact that relates to the topic, draw a line out from the circle. Label these lines with subheadings.
JM: As you explore each of these subdivisions, you'll uncover new levels of information. Draw lines out to represent each new fact or topic. Eventually, you'll have a diagram that shows individual facts or ideas coming off subject "branches." Some of the branches may relate to each other. If they do, draw lines between them to show the connections.
AC: To keep your mind map clear and easy to read, use single words and simple phrases. You may also find it helpful to use colour to separate the different ideas. You can even put symbols or pictures on your map, if that helps you interpret it more effectively.
JM: So if you do any form of research or note taking, try experimenting with mind maps. They'll help you understand how all the components of your topic fit together, and you may make some connections you wouldn't have thought of before.