How Mind Maps Make You More Creative And Smarter
In this article you will learn how mind maps can help you. A concise learning method will be presented to you. You will also have the chance to identify what your best learning strategy is by reflecting upon yourself through the mind mapping process. Finally, you will be led through the process of designing a personal learning plan of your own.
How Can Mind Maps Help You?
Perhaps the most important thing about mind maps is that they will allow you to understand a topic in its entirety. You are also able to view the most critical elements of that topic at a glance. Whether on a screen or on a piece of paper you can identify what you should be thinking about and what it is that you are trying to plan out. This allows you to brainstorm very quickly and at a deeper level than most other methods would allow you to do.
Whatever problem you are trying to solve or whatever information you are trying to understand can be very easily grasped when you are using a mind map. This is why mind maps make great learning devices and are great for communicating with or teaching others as well. Since mind maps are so visual, it is easy to see how each topic and topic relates to one another by how each topic is categorized or grouped. Most of the time this understanding comes to you at a glance by the way the information is organized.
While you are in the process of creating a mind map, you will find that the act itself will help your ideas to manifest. Essentially, as you are thinking about all of the topics and subtopics, you will be forced to create more subtopics in order to move forward. This, of course, allows you to break apart the problem or the details of the data even further. Eventually, this will provide clarity in your thinking.
The more this information is broken down, the quicker you will be able to understand and grasp it. When you compare this process to other forms of informational communication, such as in a book, manual, or even a picture, you will see how much more quickly the information can be taken in. A mind map allows you to observe a mixture of information in a very quick manner, making it superior to many other forms of data. One of the reasons why mind maps are often so much more efficient is that you can blend both text and images. You can blend the two in any way you need to.
Concise Learning Method And Mind Maps
The following information was derived from The Concise Learning Method for 21st Century Students, which was developed by Professor Tony Krasnic. The steps to this concise learning method are as follows:
Step 1: Preview — The first step is to preview the content by quickly glancing at the materials beforehand.
Step 2: Participate — The second step is to actively participate in a discussion about the material. This will work even if the discussion occurs internally. To do this you could ask yourself questions about the subject. This step begins the engagement which allows you to go from being passive to being active and therefore productive.
Step 3: Process — In this step, you think about and store the memory of the topic. In other words, this is when your memory of what you have learned is produced. This happens automatically when you are creating your mind map. You are deliberately thinking about what you are typing or writing, and this act helps you to visualize and remember creating this material. In other words, remembering the creation of the mind map will help you to remember the material itself.
Step 4: Practice — When using mind maps, you can ‘practice’ by writing, re-reading, or paraphrasing the material. Reciting the material would also help you to practice. Really, any way of reviewing the material could be considered a ‘practice’, so feel free to do whatever works best for you. Reviewing information three times has been shown to help people store things to memory.
Step 5: Produce — The next step is to produce, or show that you have retained the knowledge in some way. This can be done by writing a report, taking a test, or just writing out what you have learned from memory. This forces you to not only recognize the information but retrieve it from memory as well.
Memorization is really two different forces at play. First, there is the ability to recognize information, and second is your ability to recall the information. Retrieval of information from memory is a higher skill. It is important that you’re not just recognizing it, that you are actually able to retrieve it.
The best way to understand this is through different forms of testing. True & False or Multiple Choice tests would be examples of tests where you are asked to recognize the right answer. An Essay Exam, on the other hand, would be an example of a test where you would have to retrieve the information about a subject from memory. A Short Answer test would be an example of this as well. In both circumstance you are being asked to re-create the information.
The more that you create the more you’ll remember, but you must be able to recall the information to make it useable. That is why the ‘Production’ step is what drives everything home. Recalling this information and applying it is really a productive act because you are reproducing (or recreating) the information from memory. Every step in the process is important, however. Each of these 5 steps requires that you:
Identify key concepts
Meaningfully organize and connect key concepts
Ask key questions
You automatically go through each of these steps when you create a mind map. In the process of creating a mind map you are also identifying key concepts, connecting and organizing those concepts, thinking critically about the topic, and asking key questions. Therefore, the act of mind mapping automatically contains the most critical elements of this advanced learning process.
Obviously, following this concise learning method will help you to learn and move forward faster. Using it all the time through the formulation of mind maps will multiply these results exponentially. Tony Krasnic, by the way, is a firm believer in using mind maps to expedite learning.
What’s Your Learning Strategy?
Now, shift your mind into thinking about the tactics that you can use to learn faster, memorize better, and become more productive. There are, in fact, a large variety of tactics that you can use. They include:
Word ID — Using this tactic involves breaking words into three parts: the prefix, suffix, and stem. The prefix can be found at the beginning of the word, the suffix can be found at the end, and the stem is of course the core of the word itself. So, take the word ‘submarine’ for example. The prefix of the word, ‘sub’ means below and the stem of the word is ‘marine’, which refers to water. So, by breaking up the word you know that a submarine is something that exists below water. Being able to break up words in this way allows you to better understand and learn content.
This also helps you to teach other people. You can also use a mind map to teach this tactic to people more quickly. For example, if you wanted to teach a child how to find the meaning of more difficult words, you could use a mind map to break words into their component parts.
Self-Questioning — This tactic involves creating questions and then seeking out the information to answer them. If you already have the answers, then you can test yourself by listing the questions to be answered in the mind map, and then trying to recall them on your own.
Visual Imagery — This tactic involves using mental visualization to retain information. For example, if you were going to the store to get bread, oranges, and milk, instead of writing them out a list, you could memorize them by visualizing your trip. So, you would picture yourself going to the produce section and picking out the oranges, then moving onward to the isle where the bread is at, and then moving to the back of the store, grabbing the milk and putting it in your basket. If you do this ‘walk through’ beforehand, you will have no trouble remembering the items that you need when you get to the store.
This ‘walk through’ is like creating a movie in your head. Adding details to your ‘movie’ like thinking of the scenery or adding character will also help you to remember details more clearly as well. For example, imagining yourself putting the milk in the basket in your mental walk-through is probably going to help you remember the milk more than any of the other products. Now, if you were to write these details down in a mind map directly after visualizing yourself doing this, this would reinforce the memory you made, making you far less like to forget.
Inference — The idea here is that you can think about a topic and use logic to draw conclusions. Then, you perform research to see if your conclusions are correct. You can use a mind map to capture the questions, organize them, and then try to answer them on your own. Afterwards you go look up the information to find the real answers. Then, you compare the answers that you found with those within the mind map. You can then add what you learned to the mind map, which would drive the learning process that much more.
Quick Paraphrasing & Summarizing — In this method, you make short statements that define the topic. In other words, when you are learning something, you can capture the information in the form of short sentences to make the information more memorable. You can push this method even further by deriving keywords from those short sentences and then using a mind map to make associations between the keywords. You could even derive these keywords from the information that you’re studying, and skip the act of forming the sentences entirely. Making the connections between these keywords will help you to retrieve the information from memory, reinforcing what you have just learned.
Paraphrasing — This tactic involves re-writing the information in your own words. Again, you can reinforce the information by recreating the information by creating a mind map out of what you paraphrased.
When you reflect upon a certain aspects in your life, try to relate what it means to you. You can ask yourself what it means to you in relation to work, in terms of the relationships that you have with friends and family, and in the broad sense of yourself. You’re always learning, so this means that this reflection would change over time, whether you want it to or not. So, when you experience something new, this gives you the opportunity to revisit a mind map, reflect once more, and revise the material.
Changes may occur in a very short period of time. For example, you may have reflected upon your position at work, but then you have a conversation with a co-worker which changes your whole perception. So, the next time you open up that mind map, it is time to reflect once more. Another example would be going to a training session or conference. When you return, you may have a totally different outlook about the project that your business has taken on So, at this point, you might pull up the old mind-map that pertains to that project, reflect upon what you thought before, and re-adjust it according to the new outlook that you have.
You don’t have to perform this reflection in front of a computer either. You can jot down mind maps on pieces of paper at any point in time. Doing this often can help you reflect upon your life, your goals, and your relationships, allowing you to fix your problems, work towards your goals, and clear your mind on a consistent basis. This would not only help you to constantly relieve stress, but to continuously be working on your goals as well. You can get a lot out of this, especially when you reflect upon what any particular subject means to your life. Take the time to reflect, capture ideas, and grab all the opportunities that you can to keep the right outlook and improve your life.
Design a Personal Learning Plan
The smartest thing that you can do in your life is to have a strategy planned for learning as much as possible. You don’t have to write this down, but obviously it is better if you do. Having this strategy planned will allow you to apply the right tactics at the right time. Before you start this process, there are a few personal questions that you should ask yourself. They are:
Why are you learning what you are learning?
What is it that you are trying to get out of the learning activity?
What are you planning to use mind mapping for?
When should you be using mind mapping to get the results that you want?
You are creating this plan so that you can get the most out mind mapping for your own purposes. You may also be doing so as attempt to train and teach others. This process helps you to learn about yourself and how you learn best, which you can later use to help others as well.
Simply by using mind maps, you can learn about how you learn. You will learn about the type of language that you use, how you group and organize information, and what best helps you to retain information. Mind mapping can help you to reflect upon where you need to improve as well as where your strengths are. You can pick the methods and tools that suit you best and get the most out of your time and effort. Don’t try to do it all at once; it is a learning process.
Once you have discovered what your learning style is, you can apply the learning tactics that work best for you when you are mind mapping. Be sure that you use some of the tactics that have been outlined above because they are scientifically proven to work. By learning to use mind maps effectively, you can improve your learning, you can better teach and train others, and improve your own life, relationships, and business.