The way you use Mind Maps depends on whether you are acquiring new information (taking notes on a book or at a seminar) or using the information to write something new (a speech, business plan, or personal goals.)
The next time you are reading a book or listening to a seminar, obtain several sheets of blank non-lined copy paper. Begin each page by turning it sideways and writing one or two words in the middle to indicate the subject. If a picture comes to mind, sketch that instead. As important information is presented, add keywords to your Mind Map that will help you remember these points. When a major theme is presented, draw it in large letters close to the center. Add related ideas in clusters around this theme as they become available. If your information needs are different from those anticipated by the lecturer, you may want to use a completely unique method of organizing the material. Sometimes ideas will end up scattered around the page. In this case, use your first review period (10 minutes after the lecture or reading session ends) to draw a new Mind Map with correct organization.
Most of the value of note taking Mind Maps comes from the process of creating them. Mind Mapping promotes active reading and listening. It encourages interaction with the information which heightens interest and allows you to personalize the information to suite your particular needs.
As you will discover in the section on improving your memory, these Mind Maps are useful in the review process.
Mind Maps encourage right brain activity. They help you understand the structure of the information being learned. Seeing the big picture helps you notice how the various ideas relate to each other, and sometimes connect the material to other ideas not presented by the author/lecturer.
Specific rules for creating Mind Maps are presented in a later module. The best way to learn Mind Mapping is to just start creating them "as if" you already know how.
The following module discusses a 3 step process for using Mind Maps in the process of creative writing. This process is helpful any time you need to create and organize new innovative ideas.
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Copyright © 1996 by Patrick T. Magee