Mindmapping is a wonderful brainstorming technique that can yield great results, and show you ideas that you hadn’t previously imagined. Most people are familiar with mindmapping and its problem-solving potential, but many people do it inefficiently. If you follow these 10 simple tips, you should find your mindmapping sessions to me radically improved.
1. Eliminate Environmental Distractions. Start your session in a quiet, light environment where you will not be disturbed until you are finished.
2. Eliminate all paper / digital distractions. If you are doing your mindmap on your computer, turn off MSN, email, Kazaa, and everything else that you have running except the mindmapping software. It is too easy to “take a small break” that turns out to waste 30 minutes. If you are using paper, make sure your desk is clear, except for the paper and your writing materials.
3. Start with a good question or idea. Think about what you want to accomplish during your session, and start with an idea that is precisely defined, so it will help you work towards your goal.
4. Start with that goal, but feel free to deviate from it. As your brainstorm grows, follow your creativity and expand it however you like. Don’t feel constrained by that bubble in the middle, because it is only there as a starting point.
5. Leave yourself enough room to expand. Don’t expect to fit everything onto one piece of paper. Make sure you have extra paper, and draw your branches generously far apart, so you have room to expand on ideas. Obviously this does not apply to brainstorming software on your computer, as you can move stuff around easily.
6. Don’t try to make it too clean or professional. Remember you are doing this for yourself, so there is no reason to constrain your creativity.
7. Write down every semi-decent thought or idea that comes to you. Do not judge your ideas too heavily before you put them down, because you may change your mind later and regret throwing them out.
8. Color code, doodle, scratch out and do whatever else you want to your brainstorm, if it will help you get a better understanding of it. Again, you don’t have to be neat and tidy. Think of your brainstorm as art, and act creatively.
9. If you need to, familiarize yourself with the materials before your session begins, but try not to impair your creative juices during your brainstorm by reading from a textbook or sheet.