Mind maps are a great tool for visual learners. They are much less rigid and more customizable than other note-taking methods. Not only can mind maps be used for taking notes, they also come in handy for studying, brainstorming, and planning. Here’s how to use this intuitive technique for all areas of your life.
HOW TO MIND MAP
Mind maps start with the main topic in the middle of the page. That central idea then branches off into several subtopics. Those subtopics then branch off into smaller subtopics and additional points and elaboration, and so on, until you have as many branches and as much detail as you need. The best thing about this method is its flexibility. You can draw clouds or boxes around your text, doodle, add color, and change the structure as you wish. You can also keep your map simple and clean and black-and-white, and it’ll work just as fine. To give you a better idea of what I’m talking about, here are some great examples of mind maps.
You can make mind maps with pen + paper or with digital apps. My favorite digital mind map maker is a website called Coggle.
- “Communist Russia” as a main topic; “Government”, “Economy”, and “Society” as subtopics
- “Romeo and Juliet” as a main topic; “Characters”, “Themes”, and “Symbols” as subtopics
- “American Government” as a main topic; “Legislative”, “Judicial”, and “Executive” as subtopics
- “Sustainable Energy Sources” as a main topic; “Solar Power”, “Wind Power”, and “Water Power” as subtopics
Although mind maps can work for any class, they are usually best suited for non-technical, conceptual classes such as history and English. They’re great for getting the big picture, but they might not be the best for writing lots of nitty gritty little details. Here’s the mind map I made based off of traditional outline notes from the Cornell notes post:
This is my personal favorite way to use mind maps. My classes tend to be very detail-oriented and there’s simply too much information to use mind maps as my daily note-taking system. However, I still love the broad overview that they provide, so I use them as part of my active learning process to study for exams.
All I do is close my textbook, put away my notes, take out a blank sheet of paper, and try to create a mind map of the chapter/topic from memory. I use a ton of branches and arrows because I attempt to include every last fact I can remember. This forces me to recall all the information, reinforcing it in my memory. It also helps me organize everything I’ve learned into a cohesive structure inside my head. I usually do this process a couple days before a big test and again the night before, and it’s worked wonders for me!
BRAINSTORMING & PLANNING
You can also use mind-maps to generate ideas and create a plan of action for both academic and non-academic areas of your life. Some ideas include:
- “Goals” as a main topic; “Family/Friends”, “School”, and “Health” as subtopics
- “Business Ideas” as a main topic; “Babysitting”, “Lemonade Stand”, “Walking Dogs” as subtopics
- “Things to Do” as a main topic; “Academics”, “Events”, and “Errands” as subtopics
- “Birthday Party” as a main topic; “Guests”, “Refreshments”, and “Games” as subtopics
- “English Essay” as a main topic; “Introduction”, “Body Paragraphs”, and “Conclusion” as subtopics
- “Places to Travel” as a main topic; “Europe”, “South American”, and “Asia” as subtopics
The possibilities are truly endless. Go nuts and have fun with your mind maps, because they’re meant to be a reflection of you, your crazy ideas, and the unique way you think. Best of luck!