Good morning everyone! Today is Family Day where I live – a holiday. Most stores are closed, so we’re staying home.

I mentioned mind maps for project planning in Friday’s blog post. I thought I’d explain a bit about what they are and how I came to be doing them.

Mind mapping in its simplest form is a diagram similar to a flow chart, with multiple “arms” or branches you can designate however you want. Usually the “arms” all radiate from a central image or note of some sort. I used it for decision making at first. Then for note taking. The central idea or focus of the whole mind map goes in the central part. The radial arms are supporting ideas or a further breakdown of the topic at hand.

I was introduced to mind mapping when my daughters were in Kindergarten and grade three. It started with me trying to analyze a difficult situation we had with the local school. I needed to consider a lot of variables at once, brainstorm ideas, and come up with a solution that everyone understood.

I knew a school teacher and she loaned me a book by Nancy Margulies called “Mapping Inner Space”. I read it and, while it pertained to the classroom situation, could see applications for it far beyond that.

I wasn’t the only one apparently. The concept of the mind map was invented by Tony Buzan. He wrote several books aimed at educators and the general public. After reading his book “The Mind Map Book” I was hooked! I was mind mapping decisions we had to make, vacation plans, my daughters’ learning, and project planning.

To give you an idea of what a mind map looks like, here is my current unfinished projects mind map. These are projects I’d like to complete this year.

As you can see, I have a lot I want to do! Each branch, or arm, of my mind map can be further broken down, or continued, by adding steps to my various projects, like below:

I use an excellent little program called Simple Mind. It is an app I use on my iPad. I find the iPad easiest for mind mapping. I have the full version of Simple Mind. It’s only a few dollars and has been well worth it for me.

You can easily sketch or draw mind maps by hand, especially if you are artistically inclined. You don’t have to include colour, but I do. I find it helps me remember things. Some people just use images or illustrations. But that is optional too. The idea is we remember images better than words. I find it easiest to use point form text and colour code my mind maps.

A lot of people are into bullet journaling as an overall planning system these days. I can print my mind maps off and attach them to a page in my journal with a product called Washi tape, though you could use just about anything.

If you’re interested in learning to mind map probably the best book for a quick overview and to start is Tony Buzan’s “The Ultimate Guide to Mind Mapping”. Borrow it from your local library, grab some scrap paper and a pen, and start today! It’s easy. It’s fun. And it’s helpful.

If you’ve been reading, thanks! Have a great week everyone!

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