Mind-Maps - Break a problem into it's Elements.

Mind-maps are a great way to breakdown a problem into its elements. This makes that problem easier to deal with. Professionals in companies use mind-maps to break down very complex problems into their components.

These have been around since the 4th century.

The first time I saw mind-mapping was when a new engineering manager introduced it to a development team at an electronics manufacturing company.

He had just joined the company and it was his first meeting. The project was not going well and there was a lot of confusion amongst the staff involved.

He stood up and started a mind-map.

By taking control of the meeting and mapping out the project and problems clearly, this engineering manager immediately had the ongoing respect of everyone in the room. We could then look at each of the individual problems and work on them.

A mind-map allows you to visually lay out all the aspects of a problem or task.

Here is an example of a simple mind-map used to help manage the project of going on a holiday;

Mind-map

The mind-map is used to help ensure we are thinking of all the important issues in having a holiday. When you start thinking about one part of the holiday organization you soon find that this thinking leads into thinking into the next level of detail. For example if you think about who to go with you may then need to think about whether they will bring along girl-friends or boy-friends. Then you need to think about whether these guys will drive you crazy or not ;-)

This example shows a mind-map that goes out to 4 levels (1. Who is going ? -> 2. My friends -> 3. Invite GFs & BFs -> 4. Are they going to be a pain ?). Imaging how big and complex a mind-map would be for a 3-day music festival. It would have hundreds of items and maybe up to 20 levels.

The more complex something is the more useful a mind-map is in helping manage it.

When doing an essay, the process of drawing out the mind-map helps you think of other things to add into your writing.

Once you get familiar with the mind-map you can go straight to doing a list. However if you start a mind-map on a notepad or on your computer you can just leave it there. Often when you glance back at it you will then think of other aspects that you need to add.

By drawing a mind-map, you are creating a record of your creative thinking. Because you have it on paper or computer you do not have to restart your thinking next time you work on your essay.

For an assignment you are working on, when a pop-in occurs, add it to the mind-map.

Part of the power of a mind-map is the way it visually lays out the project. Our creativity is helped by this visual representation.

Using mind-maps to improve my essay