Supercharging Your Mind Mapping – Part 1: Mind Mapping Techniques to Create Your Mind Maps
If you haven’t yet, make sure to download your free mind mapping e-book.
Ok, so now you can mind map.
You master basic mind mapping techniques. You’ve worked with MindManager for a while, and you created several maps with it.
You know how to add color, relationships, boundaries, numbering, images, notes, attached files and hyperlinks.
You might even have discovered the icons, and some extra mind mapping techniques.
That is great, and you’ve made outstanding progress.
So how do you go to the next level? How can you supercharge your mind mapping? If we compare your current proficiency with walking, how do you start running?
This is what this series is all about.
Speed And Effectiveness Are Key
Your speed and effectiveness at mind mapping directly impacts your overall productivity at capturing and organizing information.
Speed, as will be discussed later in this article, can be broken down into your typing speed, your speed with the software (shortcuts), and your speed with other tools (such as Word, email).
Your effectiveness is measured by how well you can extract and summarize information, and structure it into a mind map.
It took me several years to perfect my visual facilitation skills up to my current level. And there will always be a lot for me to learn and improve on.
The rewards are well worth the investment. The obvious benefits are dramatically improved productivity and increased clarity which lead to better business results.
How Can You Mind Map Effectively?
I’ve always been obsessed with productivity and optimization. I have come to master Mindjet MindManager over several years, and in the next few paragraphs, I’ll cover what I believe are the essentials to effective mind mapping.
I see three main categories:
- Creating The Map: First, you create the mind map file. Then, you add content – topics and subtopics, callouts, notes, files, etc. I will share my best tips about content creating in MindManager in this section.
- Navigating The Map: Throughout your work with your map, you need to navigate through it. We will cover the optimal ways to zoom in and out, go from one topic to another, select topics, navigate from map to map, etc.
- Formatting The Map: To make it more visually interesting – may it be for yourself or people you’re sending it to -, I will present you with some guidance, techniques and shortcuts.
In this article, we will cover only the first category. The other two will each be the topic of another article.
This article is very technical and step-by-step. I am assuming you have a basic experience with MindManager. This was written for version 9, but most of the stuff here applies to other versions as well.
Part 1: Creating The Map
Inserting A New Element (Topic) On The Same Level
Don’t use the ribbon menu to do this. There is an easier and quicker way to do it.
- Select the element after which you want to add the element;
- Press “Enter” to insert a new element;
- Type the text you want for that element;
- Press “Enter” to confirm the text entry.
The order of elements on a branch often needs to be changed. There are two effective ways to do this:
- First way:
- Drag n’ drop the element to the desired position.
- Second way:
- Select the element you want to move to a different position;
- Move up with Ctrl-Alt-Up or move down with Ctrl-Alt-Down.
Insert A Parent Branch
Since information in a mind map is hierarchical, you are required to add a parent element to a specific element almost as often as you need to insert elements on the same level or sublevels. To do this,
- Select the element you want to add a parent element to;
- Press Ctrl-Shift-Insert;
- Type the text you want for that element.
By the way, you can remove a parent branch and keep its children by selecting the parent and pressing Ctrl-Shift-Delete.
Add relationships between elements more or less depending on type of map you make. Causal logical trees, such as the Current Reality Tree by Eli Goldratt, are made of elements and if-then relationships between them. Relationships in traditional mind maps tend to make them more complex, and you should use them sparingly. By default, the shape of a relationship is “Bezier”. You will often need to change it to a “straight” relationship, especially if you add relationships between floating topics.
To do so: Alt-H, R, S
Or if you want to make all relationships straight by default, you need to
- Go into “Map Style” in the Home tab;
- Click on Modify;
- In the Map Style editor, select the arrow;
- Change the Line Shape to “Straight”;
- Apply the changes.
Callouts are used to add a comment to an element. Use with moderation; they tend to clutter the map. Instead, you can add that comment to the element itself, as subtext or as a tag.
The callout in all its glory:
And here are a few alternatives to that callout. You can click on this image to view the full-size PDF.
I find that boundaries are especially interesting when creating free-floating elements. It allows you to create blocks of information that go together.
If you stick to the traditional mind map format (radially around the central topic), then they’re good to put emphasis on some of the information. However, in that case, only highlight the most important information; don’t surround every single branch with a boundary -- that overwhelms the brain.
Free Floating Elements
The radial mind map format is sometimes an obstacle. Don’t hesitate to create free-floating elements (i.e. somewhere in the white space around the main map). This happens for me especially when:
- There is information somewhat related to the central topic, but not enough for it to make sense to attach it to that central topic;
- Using other thinking processes and tools such as Eli Goldratt’s;
- Writing a blog post: consider the mind map being the brainstorm, and the free-floating element contains the text of the post.
It is time-consuming to add appropriate images to a map. So keep it simple:
- A relevant central image;
- Screenshots and diagrams to illustrate more simply or to complete an idea you’re describing with text (those are the most valuable images).
Two types of icons are most useful: priority icons and task completion icons.
- Priority icons: In most cases where you need to prioritize a list, DO NOT use priority icons; use numbering instead. Priority icons are useful when you want to prioritize only certain elements spread around the map, and/or if a few elements have the same priority. For to-do lists, like I said, use numbering -- it is automatic and less fuss.
- Progress icons: This is used most when planning tasks to do. They are available under the Insert tab, in the Icons or the Progress buttons. By default, the only % choices are 0%, 25%, 50%, 75% and completed. More % options are available. To use them, do the following:
- Select the element to add the progress icon to;
- Add a progress icon (any);
- Select the element, then right-click on the progress icon and there is a “More Complete % Icons” sub-menu item. That is where the extra % options are.
Remove The Orthographic Corrector
Sometimes useful (if making a lot of typos), sometimes a pain (when typing in French). To deactivate it:
- Go to the Review tab;
- Click on the Spelling button;
- Uncheck the “Check spelling as you type in this document” option.
There are 3 main factors to your speed of mind mapping:
- Typing speed: The fastest I’ve done on that particular test is 119 wpm. Actually, 118 wpm because I made one mistake : ) Here is a good test to measure your typing speed: http://www.typingtest.com/
- Speed with the mind mapping software
- keyboard shortcuts
- navigating around the map
- creating information
- simplifying the information to its essence
- re-organizing the information and creating sub-maps
- making links between ideas
- Your speed at using other tools where your information comes from and goes to. A good example is if you need to extract information from Word or email.
These three factors add up. Which one is your biggest constraint right now?
Other Useful Keyboard Shortcuts To Improve Your Speed When Creating
- Select elements on a level: Ctrl-Shift-A
- Cross out selected elements: Ctrl-Shift-S
- Add a hyperlink to a selected element: Ctrl-K: You can also select multiple topics and add a hyperlink to them at the same time.
- Attach a file to a selected element: Ctrl-Shift-H
This is a lot of information to digest. So pick one of the recommendations above and start applying it NOW. Once you’ve mastered it, pick another one and implement it. Soon enough, you’ll have supercharged your mind mapping.
|Read Part 2: Navigation Using Mind Maps
Learn the best ways to: