Organising your thoughts can be a complex task. Whether you’re trying to design a project, plan tasks or come up with creative ideas, the stream of consciousness can quickly lead you in unexpected directions and put you at risk of forgetting key information or getting priorities wrong – even if you try to write them down. The problem is that, while humans tend to think in a linear fashion, the connections between things are often multifaceted.
Rather than trying to force non-linear relationships into a list format, a mind map enables you to visualise the connections between concepts or things that need to be done, and to build them out logically without losing track of different strands. You don’t record items sequentially but in concentric circles or branches, with lines connecting the related entries in a hierarchical fashion.
Say you need to develop a new brand strategy. You would start in the middle of the map with the brand name or overall goal and then identify the main elements that contribute to it; for example, research, segmentation, targeting and positioning. These would then be added, each branching out at equal distances from the centre and each other.
You then create more branches at the next level: for the research stage you might note down the need to define the market, choose key metrics, compare methodologies and engage an agency. These would all be connected to the ‘research’ branch of the map.
You can obviously draw a mind map with pen and paper, but there are also apps that can help – Mindly, SimpleMind and Mindjet Maps are a few examples.