I am sure that you have heard of the mind map and maybe even tried out this method of note taking. Today we are going to examine this structure, and I’m going to look into why it is so beneficial compared to a traditional note taking style.
So what is the mind map anyway?
According to Wikipedia, a mind map is “a diagram used to visually organize information”. The term was originally introduced by Tony Buzan during a popular BBC show in 1974, called Use your brain. He argued that traditional outlines forces the reader to go left to right, while the mind map structure allows the reader to get an overview at a glance.
The mind map is structured like your brain.
But does it really matter how you take notes, you might wonder. According to research, it does really matter. The mind map structure mimics your brain and imitates the way your brain sorts out information. This helps the brain to relax and give it a chance to remember everything in a clear way.
It’s also very beneficial if you want to brainstorm an idea. Since the structure is designed in such a way that it allows for your core idea to expand, you won’t run out of space, and you can always connect new ideas with each other.
For example: Let’s say that your friend is giving you a recipe for cupcakes. You want to write it down as they tell you the recipe. You just want to capture the measures and so on, so you won’t forget. Then you will have the recipe next time you want to bake those cupcakes, right?
Well, yes. But I can almost assure you that you won’t be able to remember the whole recipe. Instead you will have to take it out and read it as you start baking. Nothing wrong with that, but wouldn’t it be even smoother if you didn’t have to read it at all, because you already remembered it? This is what an effective mind map has the capacity to do. Studies show that note taking with a mind map can improve learning efficiency up to 15% over conventional note taking.
Draw a spider
When you draw a mind map, think of a spider. Start with a pen and a piece of paper. Write the main subject in the middle section. Draw some form of container around it.
You have now drawn the spider’s body. Now you can extend with as many “legs” you need to complete the diagram. Preferably don’t draw more than 7 legs if you want to be able to remember everything that you have written.
Now you can draw “fingers” from every leg, where you can write additional information about the sub topic. (Here is where sketchnotes come in handy; small drawings, icons etc. to help you remember.)
On the mind map below I drew 6 “legs” to cover the basics in sketchnotes.
As you can see, the main topic, “Sketch notes elements” is written in the middle, and the sub topics are drawn as “arms” from the middle. After that you can expand further from those arms to write down details about those sub topics.
Different layout ideas
A mind map structure can seem quite messy at a first glance. Especially if you are a person who prefers tidiness and order, it can seem like it’s too unstructured. Depending on who you are as a person, you might want to layout your notes in a certain way to feel that you have control over them. Maybe you feel secure with the traditional bullet point lists, or you don’t want too much going on.
But I can assure you that it’s worth its time to discover the mind map structure, even if you are a person who likes order and control. As you play around with the structure, you will discover your own style and how you want to do it.
Below are some layout ideas for you to try out. Play around with different styles. That way you can find a style that’s comfortable for you to use.
Good luck with your mind map journey!