Idea mapping or mind mapping is the visual process of using diagrams to show relationships between concepts and ideas. It can be used for brainstorming, project planning, organizing ideas, or collective planning. The purpose of idea mapping is fleshing out the thinking process and discovering new ideas through visually mapping out thoughts. Due to the various types of sensory learning methods, idea mapping can spark creativity and generate concepts for groups or individuals.
How Does it Work?
The theory behind idea mapping is that we work through ideas better when we use the whole brain. Idea mapping combines the use of memory, thought organization, note taking, creativity, planning and communication. In addition, since it is a visual tool, color, lines, words and images are used in conjunction to connect ideas through association.
Creating an idea map does not take any fancy tools. You can create an idea map using a simple whiteboard and colored markers to improve productivity and clarify thinking. Idea maps are used in classrooms to enhance learning through a non-linear process that uses both sides of the brain simultaneously. An idea map is a full-color diagram that organizes ideas in an associative manner as opposed to a list.
Resources and Tools
There are several good books on the topic of idea mapping including Idea Mapping: How to Access Your Hidden Brain Power, Learn Faster, Remember More, and Achieve Success in Business by Jamie Nast and Mind Mapping: How to Create Mind Maps Step-By-Step (Mind Map Templates, Speed Mind Maps, and Advanced Mind Mapping by John S. Rhodes.
Additionally, there are numerous excellent tools that you can use on the Internet or on a mobile device many of which are free to use. Here is a list of several of them.
- Mindmeister–This cloud-based site was built to facilitate collaboration for brainstorming and mind mapping and has an intuitive interface. Projects can be accessed from mobile devices as well as online and offline
- iMindMap–Developed by Tony Buzan who coined the term “mind mapping,” the site is visually stimulating, with bright colors, curved branches, and sharp images. You can customize your map freehand or let the site create it for you.
- SpiderScribe–An online tool that lets you connect notes, files, and calendar events in freeform maps as well as embed them on your website.
- Coggle–Coggle allows you to brainstorm and produce notes or maps by dragging and dropping images onto diagrams and exporting your projects in PDF or PNG format. It can be used on mobile devices.
- Freemind–An open-source tool built in Java that is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, Freemind features location-based mind mapping and collaboration tools which can be used to create complex diagrams with numerous branches.
Whether you are a financial copywriter working out the concepts for an ebook or an architect designing a new space, idea mapping will move your thinking process into new, more colorful dimensions.
Paula A can usually be found in her favorite chair with her feet propped up on an ottoman quietly typing on her laptop and sipping iced coffee while chaos reigns around her.