As humans, not a day goes by that there isn’t at least some type of problem to solve, whether it’s what to make for dinner, how to bring in a little extra income, or how to structure your next personal essay. Ideally, all the challenges you face would have a simple solution, but that’s unfortunately not how life works, is it? Sometimes, even the act of trying to work through options can create a cloud of confusion inside your head. Next time this happens, we suggest trying a mind map.

Mind Map Examples

Not sure what a mind map is? Mind maps are diagrams that help you brainstorm and organize your ideas. They can be used for an array of different things, but here are five mind map examples:

Planning for an Interview

organization map
Source: twitter

Brainstorming a Blog Plan

organization map
Source: twitter

Breaking Down a Concept

organization chart
Source: twitter

Building a Joyful Life

orgnization chart
Source: twitter

Outlining a Story Idea

organizational chart
Source: instagram

Creating a Mind Map

Creating a mind map requires just a few simple steps. You can make a mind map with paper and your writing utensil of choice or digitally using software like Lucidchart, Bubbl, or Miro.

No matter which way you go, the first step is to decide what your central topic will be. Also called your single concept or the anchor, this is what every other word or idea on the page will eventually lead back to. If you’re brainstorming the topic for your next book, for instance, your central topic could be “Book Ideas.”

Once you’ve identified your anchor, surround it with some main themes and connect each theme back to the anchor with a line. Continuing with the new book example, this would be a few words to briefly describe each story idea, such as:

  • The secret life of a mailman
  • A woman falls in love with her cat sitter
  • Three friends go on a life-changing vacation
  • The journey of an underdog soccer team

After writing down all your themes, it’s time to brainstorm some subtopics. For example, you could surround each story idea with the traits of the main characters, a few major plot points, the setting, and so forth. Each subtopic should connect to the associated main theme, just like you connected each theme back to the anchor.

Once you’ve completed this step, you can keep going, adding as many subtopics to your subtopics as feels necessary. All of your mind map ideas have the potential to have their own branches. See where your mind takes you! “The possibilities are endless,” says Skillshare instructor Aisha Borel. “You’re never limited when it comes to mind mapping.” 

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3 Key Mind Map Techniques

There are a few mind mapping techniques you can leverage to get more out of your mind map and even closer to reaching your goals

1. Use Concise Keywords 

There are two reasons why your anchor would be “Book Ideas” instead of “All of the ideas I have for the new book I want to write.” Most obviously, you want to conserve space on the page. But also, using one or two keywords per anchor, theme, and subtopic will help you recall the contents of your mind map more easily. 

2. Get Colorful

By making all the main themes (and their associated subtopics) a different color, you can easily see what goes with what. Plus, “the use of multiple colors within your mind maps not only adds visual interest, but also boosts level of creative thinking, increases our brain’s engagement, and naturally uses more of the cerebral cortex,” says Borel. [That’s] “the area of your brain that plays a key role in memory, attention, perception, awareness, thought, language, and consciousness.”

3. Leverage Images and Symbols

In addition to color, add some icons to your mind map. You could put a piece of mail next to the mailman story, a cat next to the cat sitter story, a plane next to the vacation story, and a soccer ball next to the underdog story. Beside the name of each story idea’s characters, you could draw a stick figure. Depending on the genre, you could draw a heart for a romance, a knife for a thriller, a question mark for a mystery, and so forth. You get the picture.

Adding images and symbols next to your keywords will improve the way you process and help you remember the contents of your mind map.

Mind Map Topics

Here’s a list of mind map ideas to explore (but, again, the possibilities are endless!):

  1. What to write about
  2. How to structure your blog
  3. What to major in
  4. A business plan
  5. What type of business to start
  6. Materials you need for your next art project
  7. What to name your new company
  8. The traits of a specific character 
  9. Plot ideas
  10. Planning a big, multi-course meal (like Thanksgiving)
  11. Planning an event (like a wedding or graduation party)
  12. Types of careers to pursue
  13. Companies to apply to
  14. Your values
  15. Your goals for the year
  16. Places to travel to
  17. Decorating your house

Time to Make a Mind Map!

Next time you’re not sure what to do about something, grab a blank piece of paper and get to mind mapping. Trust us: Your mind will feel a whole lot clearer. We can’t wait to see your mind maps and the mind mapping techniques you use.

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Written By

Abby Wolfe

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