A mind map is a brainstorming tool based on free association. Write down a word, set a timer, then write down all the words you associate with that first word. You can go on from there, by changing your focus to another word. It might give you a messy response, but it can help. It is especially helpful in a group setting as your mind map responses might not match your neighbors. Comparisons can help show the way forward. That’s often all you need.
There are software packages that can help you to create a mind map, but all you really need is a piece of paper, a pencil or pen and a timer. Write down the initial word, circle it, then set the timer for however long you want, fifteen minutes is usually long enough. Then just start writing the words that come to you based on the initial word. Draw lines between your secondary words and the initial word. When you can’t think of any more secondary words, start doing the same with the second group of words – pick one, circle it and run with it. Do that until the timer rings and you should have large number of words. Drawing circles around the starter words and lines between all of them will give you the associations, or the path your mind took in the words. Often you will get a topic, if that was your aim, or a solution, if you started with a problem.
The mind is a wonderful thing. We don’t always understand it completely, but we can learn how to use it and get the most we can from it. Mind mapping is one way to use it to get what you might need.
I’m not saying a mind map will solve all your problems, but for some of them, you can’t beat it. All you need is a piece of paper, a pen or pencil, a timer, and a quiet place to create your mind map. The software is nice, make no mistake, but it isn’t really needed. Just sit down and do it. You really can’t do a mind map wrong.
It can show you what you want to do with your life. It can point the way to resolve a problem. It can even help with writer’s block. Just remember a mind map is only a tool. It may not always be the right tool, but keep it in your mental tool box anyway. Sometimes it can help. Especially in those groups where people don’t seem to have anything in common. Mind maps can show commonality, which can lead to a breakthrough. Give it a try and see how well it works for whatever you need.