Map your thoughts

Aida Nassar
5 Min Read

Mind maps are a stress-free technique aimed at organizing your thinking process

CAIRO: I admit it. I am a procrastinator. When an immediate solution doesn’t present itself, I push the problem aside to deal with later. With a looming deadline I usually come through at the last minute. I’ve told myself that I work better under pressure, and that may be true. But if I’m being honest, the adrenaline rush I get from pulling my act together at the 11th hour does not make up for the stress I put myself through.

If I was going to put an end to my habit of procrastination, and tackle problems head on, then I was going to have to learn how to organize my thought clearly. Upon a friend’s recommendation, I decided to use mind mapping as a thinking tool.

What are mind maps?A mind map is a diagram that is used to depict words, ideas, or tasks that are related to a central idea. You can use words, images and lines. The process of putting your ideas down on paper helps you visualize your thought process, structure your thinking in an organized manner and even generate new ideas.

It can be best described as “an image-centered diagram that represents semantic or other connections between portions of information.

Mind mapping is essentially writing down a central idea – at the center of the diagram – and thinking up new and related ideas, which branch out from the core. In representing these “connections in a non-linear, graphical diagram, it allows you to take a fresh approach to an organizational task. It also allows you to visualize connections between ideas, and help you process new information. Formulating ideas graphically also helps recall existing memories that can aid in understanding.

How did mind maps originate?Mind maps and similar concepts are time-tested techniques. Over the centuries, they have been used for processing information, brainstorming and problem solving. Prophyry of Tyros, a third Century thinker, developed some of the earliest examples of mind maps when he graphically mapped out Aristotle’s concept categories.

British popular psychology author, Tony Buzan, however, has alleged to have conceived the breakthrough, thinking tool: Mind Map. Buzan has written several books on the technique and has embarked on a mission to acquaint people worldwide with his tool.

“Most people are trained to think in a linear way, thinking of one thing, then the next thing, and then the next, in a series of singular associations in one direction, Buzan explains in an interview with Management Consulting News. “The way our minds really work is in multiple thoughts and multiple directions at the same time. The way the brain fundamentally thinks is radiant, meaning that it thinks primarily from image centers, and then radiates out.

How do you diagram a mind map?In his book, The Mind Map Book, Buzan outlines the key guidelines:

1. Start at the center with an image of the topic, using at least 3 colors.2. Use lines, colors, arrows, branches or other visuals to show the connection between the central idea and the new ideas you generate. By personalizing the diagram you are essentially constructing visual and meaningful relationships between ideas that will promote understanding.3. Each word/image must sit alone on its own line. 4. The lines must be connected, starting from the central image. Make the lines the same length as the word/image.5. Keep the map clear by using radial hierarchy or numerical order.

To encourage linear thinking, it’s best to draw quickly without pausing to make judgments or edit your thought process. This helps unleash creativity. Once the diagram is completed, you can edit and make modifications. But at the early stage of the process it’s key to map all possibilities.

Mind maps are a great thinking tool to tap into your brainpower and improve problem-solving skills. And it’s simple to use. If you’re stumped by a problem, or find yourself procrastinating, then definitely give this technique a go.








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