What are the mental maps?
Let’s get to the point: a mind map is a mechanism that helps you understand problems, ideas or concepts related to a topic in a visual way. To do this, keywords, arrows, colors, images, symbols, and pictures are used in mind maps. Unnecessary information is also discarded and only essential data is used. Doesn’t that sound better than reading an infinite number of pages?
A mind map develops from a central idea. Later, around it, concepts are added that are joined with arrows. From these branches that have been included, new ones will emerge that link to children or less important elements. This process is repeated until all the data is added. If you haven’t understood anything, don’t worry. Below I explain how to make a mind map.
When creating a mind map, the information is displayed in an orderly and clear way. Obviously, this will make it easier for you to memorize the information in the diagram.
Who had this wonderful idea? An English gentleman named Tony Buzan, with the intention of making your study task easier, was the one who developed this technique.
What are mind maps for?
This study tool has many applications both in work and education, although we will focus on this second part. The use of mind maps can be used in different ways:
- Take notes in class.
- Summarize books.
- Tool for easy memorization.
- Prepare a presentation.
How to make a mind map?
Before starting your mind map, you must decide where to do it. You just have to take a sheet of paper and colored pencils. You may also prefer to develop it in your preferred application, whether online or not. Any option is valid. Once you have this decided, let’s get started!
Steps to mind mapping
- The first thing is place the main idea in the center, the problem, the concept or whatever you want to call it. It gets really big so it’s clear what your mind map is about. It can be with words or with a drawing. Whatever you feel like. Of course, if you draw something, that is related to the topic. For example, on a mind map about the environment, you could put a picture of our planet.
- The next step is to identify the main elements of the subject we are dealing with. Each must be composed of a keyword. Here you are not going to write an endless paragraph. Rather, what you should do is get to the point.
- For each of these elements draw an arrow or branch from the center out. Try to give these branches enough space between them. You don’t want your ideas to pile up. Of course, in the event that some elements are more relevant than others, you can sort them by importance. In fact, it is recommended to put them clockwise around the main idea.
- I recommend that you use different colors for each branch. By doing this, it will be easier for you to better differentiate the elements that you have included.
- Enter the keyword next to (or at the end of) the branch. I also recommend adding an image to each of them if you see fit.
- Now you must repeat this process for each of the nodes or items you have. What side ideas should you remember related to that node? Write them down and draw a new branch. Do this as often as necessary until you feel like you already have all the points you want on the mind map. Also, you should remember that the further an element is from the center, the less important it is.
- Congratulations! You have finished your mind map.
Don’t worry if it takes too long at first. As you gain experience you will see how you do mind maps much faster and with better results. Practice will make you an expert.
In our article on the best university study habits we synthesize the information in a mind map. We put it here so you can have it as an example and get a visual idea of what they are like. You can click on the image to make it bigger.
Benefits of using mind maps
After you have come this far, you are surely wondering: “And what good is making mind maps for me?” Here are its benefits:
- Easy to use. Great knowledge is not required to be able to make a mind map. It is a study tool available to anyone. Obviously, if it is not difficult to make mental maps, it is much less difficult to understand them.
- Guaranteed fun. Using mind maps shows that studying doesn’t have to be boring. You will agree that it is more fun to learn using this resource than with a linear list.
- Well structured information. The data presented will be well organized. The groupings will allow you to see the information in a clear and understandable way.
- Global vision Of the mattery. It allows you to divide a main idea into smaller parts of which it is composed. Seeing how different aspects of the mind map are related gives you an overview of the topic you are studying. You will better understand the concepts and how they are linked to each other.
- Visually appealing. If you had the option to choose between a linear black and white list or a full color mind map with pictures, which would you choose? Clearly the mind map. The graphic elements it contains make this study tool much more visually pleasing to use.
- Identification of key concepts. It allows you to easily see what the main ideas of the topic you are studying are. You can have a lot of material to study. However, if you are not able to identify which concepts are the most important, you could end up studying unimportant details.
- General presentation of what you are going to study. If you have to read a topic of more than twenty pages, with a single glance at the map you can quickly see all the information you are going to study.
- The brain will thank you. Our brain does not work in a linear way, but in a scattered way. In the case of mind maps, they are structured in just that way.
- Take notes easily. It gives you the ability to take notes quickly. You just have to write down the important ideas and their relationship to the main idea. Also, by discarding information that is not relevant, your notes will go straight to the point.
- Allow communicate clearly. By making use of visual aids, you can easily convey your ideas. Especially useful if you have to help a partner study.
- Your way. When you make a mind map, you do it to your liking. It will improve your retention since the information you study will be organized in a way that you understand.
- Easier memorization. It will allow you to go from a long and complicated content to a simple and more limited one. In addition, even if it is simplified, the most important ideas are not lost, making it easier for you to memorize the information.
- Less time studying! This is a consequence of the previous point. Mind maps make it easier to study complicated topics. Therefore, you will need to spend less time studying.
Disadvantages of mind maps
Although mind maps have many advantages, as you might expect, there are also some disadvantages. These are some of the most important disadvantages that you can find:
- You have to dedicate time. Time is money and mind maps are not done in the blink of an eye. If you are going to make one to prepare for an exam, better not wait until the day before.
- Understanding of other people. When you make your own mind map, you create it your way. Therefore, you see it clear and very easy to understand. However, you will think differently from your classmate or teacher. So if you show it to someone else or you see a map made by someone else, the information may not be easily understood.
- Abstraction. It is not always possible to define a branch with a single word. There are concepts that need to be explained more fully.
- Spatial arrangement. In the event that you make mind maps on paper, you must calculate the space that each branch will occupy with its children. If you hit the edge of the blade, don’t worry. You could append another right next to it and continue.
- Necessary knowledge. When you start to study a new topic, you may not know enough about it to have clear ideas and concepts and therefore be able to make a mind map. If you have doubts about the central element and the branches that should come out of it, surely it would be better if you start by taking notes. You may be interested in this article, we will tell you how to take quality notes. Once you have your notes well done, it will be easier for you to develop a mind map.
Best Website for Online Mind Mapping
GoConqr: Although there are many web pages for making mind maps online, GoConqr has two important advantages: it is in Spanish and it is very easy to use. In the diagrams you make you can add images and other visual elements. In addition, it allows you to easily spread your creations since it gives you the option to easily share them online with your acquaintances.
The best program for making mind maps
XMind: This program is quite famous in the world of mind maps. Although it has a paid version, the features that it offers for free are surely more than enough for the use that you are going to give it in class. It has a modern interface and offers endless possibilities so that you can make a unique diagram.
The best application to create mind maps
MindMeister: This free application is available for both Android and iPhone. Of its many features, we can highlight that it allows you to synchronize the maps with your online account. It allows to export in an image and also in RTF and PDF. Finally, it is not necessary to have an internet connection to be able to work with the application.
When to use mind maps
After reading all of the above, there is one thing that should be clear to you: there are countless times to use mind maps. From preparing an exam to analyzing the positive and negative aspects of that classmate that you like so much.
I hope that after considering this article you will begin to use mind maps in your day-to-day life, in case you are not already doing so. Very soon you will begin to see the fruits of this extra work. Maybe this study tool devised by Tony Buzan will give you that little push you need to be the first of your class.
Now is your turn. Do you think like me that mind maps are useful? Do you think they are useless? Did I forget to mention something? Let me know!