Friday, September 30, 2011

Creativity Booster: Using Mind Mapping to Grow Ideas

"Structure of Mind Maps" courtesy Mind Map Pictures.

Have you ever heard of mind mapping?

It’s a really wonderful technique for boosting your creativity and growing your ideas so that they can see more of their true potential. It is used by creative people as well as business professionals for a variety of purposes. It is another excellent way to help you think outside the box!

A mind map is a diagram that represents specific concepts arranged around a central idea or theme. They can help you visualize and structure an idea as well as brainstorm further possibilities. You can use them to organize thoughts, make decisions, solve problems, and just stand back and look at something from a broader perspective.

One of the fun things about mind maps is that there are no rules. Some people have come up with guidelines, but really, you can use them in any way that works for you. I like to use different colors and add drawings to encourage both halves of my brain to get along more easily, but I think it’s just the simple act of laying things out on paper in a nonlinear way that makes it so effective. You will develop your own style as you test it out and discover what works for you.

"Art & Design Mind Map" courtesy Mind Map Pictures.
To create a mind map, get out a blank sheet of paper. Write a topic or idea in the center that you want to think about or expand on. Next, draw lines moving outward from the center like tree branches, with thicker branches close to the center stating main themes or aspects of your central idea, and then branching out to multiple thinner branches getting more specific about each of those sub-topics.

You can click on any these mind-map images to view them larger, and help you get a better idea of how a mind map works!  As you can see, you could easily create a mind map about any topic you like, and every person will have their own style!

One of my favorite things about mind mapping is sitting back to look at it when you’re done (or at least you think you’re done.) While creating the mind map helped you to expand on your original idea and clarify all of its different aspects, there is even more to be gained simply by observing your creation. I love looking at two different sub branches that aren’t necessarily related and asking, “What do these two things have in common?” or, “How can I combine and connect these two aspects to make something new?”

Have fun with this, and let me know what you think about mind mapping! Do you like it? Has it helped you to think more creatively, or even just gain clarity? 

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