Visually Organize Your Thoughts With Mind Maps

Creating a mind map is a powerful way to organize your thoughts in a visual form. A mind map is similar to a flow chart, except that while flowcharts normally proceed in a linear top-to-bottom order, mind maps progress clockwise from the top, and feature radial structures branching out from one central node.

For example, here is a mind map that visually depicts the structure of this article:

Mind Map of mind maps

To create a mind map, begin by creating one main idea in a central bubble, and then add sub-concepts as branches that extend outward from that bubble. Those sub-concepts can then have branches of their own, which can have branches of their own, and so on.

There are many online tools that allow you to create your own mind maps, such as (which is now available as an add-on to Google Docs).

While creating your mind map, you can easily use any of the following features:

  • Customize the colors on the map
  • Add images, links, files, or notes to each bubble
  • Zoom in and out
  • Re-organize the bubbles by dragging them to a different position
  • Show or hide bubbles in order to temporarily simplify the map, or to test your memory

Why do mind maps help improve learning and retention of knowledge?

Mindmapping is a helpful way to visualize information because information is often presented in a non-linear fashion. For example, during a lecture, a professor might present a main idea, bring examples to support the main idea, go on a tangent, and finally, go back to the key concept and elaborate more. If a student tries to take notes on this lecture in a linear manner, it can become quite confusing and disorganized.

Mind maps solve this problem. Mind maps show you the relationship between ideas, structuring the information in a way that clarifies what is the main idea and what are the peripheral details. Mind maps let you see see the overall picture.

How have you used mind maps for teaching or learning? Add a comment below to let us know!

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