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How To Use Mind Maps

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Mind maps are a popular and effectual method of organising information, concepts and ideas into a manageable and creative entity. By modelling the way in which the brain works, mind maps can be a useful tool for business, education and everyday life.
What you'll need: 
Coloured pens and pencils
Blank sheets of unlined paper (A4/A3)
Open work surface
Mind mapping software (optional)
Mind mapping is notable for its relative lack of 'rules' and organising principles. However, there are a few basic methods attached to mind maps which can make them particularly effective.
Mind maps generally take the form of a central idea or concept around which progressive levels of information and detail are constructed. You should therefore begin by determining this central concept, placing it in coloured image or word form at the centre of the blank A4/A3 page. It is often useful to turn the page to a horizontal position as this allows the conceptual diagram to expand more easily.
Mind maps operate by removing artificially-imposed organisation and demarcation such as borders and lines. This removes linear constraints and mimics the brain's operation. Utilising colour within mind maps is particularly effective as it appeals to the brain's tendency towards creativity.
Having placed the central concept in the middle of the page, begin organising information by drawing radiating lines from the central idea/image. It is useful to start directly above the centre and work in a clockwise direction. This helps show the progression and development of ideas.
Basic Ordering Concepts (BOCs) are the first terminals of the radiating lines. These conceptual frameworks are the starting point for progressively more detailed levels of information which radiate outwards in a similar fashion.
There is only space for a few information-rich words, terms or images at each terminal. This forces you to delve into the relevant information creatively and find those concepts which will best assist you in the processes of organisation and recall.
Make as many connections between the concepts in your mind maps as possible. Highlighting the conceptual connections and flow of information helps the brain understand in a creative and active way rather than through passive ingestion.
Though you should avoid the use of linear organisation within mind maps, you should also limit the amount of information written down. A cramped, overflowing mind map will be confusing and ineffective.
Free mind mapping software can be found online if you prefer to work on your computer. Examples include Mind Meister and Free Mind.
Applicable in a number of contexts from business to study and even day to day organisation, mind mapping is a worthwhile skill to develop and personalise.
Use as many colours as possible. The brain responds to variety.
Images are particularly effectual as they are memorable and are able to hold far more information than words.
Print words and make them easily readable.
Avoid full sentences within your mind maps if possible.
Develop your own style of mind mapping as certain techniques will be best for you.
Mind mapping isn't necessarily the best organising method for all types of information.


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