“Learn How To See. Realize That Everything Connects To Everything Else”
Leonardo Da Vinci
When I want something a bit more visual than Brain Dumping (which I wrote about in my last post), I turn to an old favorite of mine, Mind Mapping. I have been doing mind maps for over twenty years and they are a great way to work with my ADHD while gathering thoughts on my latest project. I find them helpful to organize major components of my memoirs.
They are easy to learn and there are several companies to choose from if you would like an application instead of just drawing on paper, which can be messy and does not allow for revision. And, face it, an ADHD person with lots of pieces of paper surrounding them is a recipe for disaster or at least a meltdown.
What is Mind Mapping?
A Mind Map is a simple way to brainstorm thoughts and concepts quickly without worrying about the order and structure. It allows you a visual organization of your ideas and a wide range of tasks. Mind maps are best used for one idea (i.e. a vacation, book, website, party).
I use them when I have a concept in mind and also when I am brainstorming, perhaps chapters in my book. They allow me to see connections and alter them according to my needs. I can work with outlines, add notes and hyperlinks, add a document to a topic, and even add pictures and photos to help me visually.
if you are like me, relating to a visual project helps me with my memory of the project when it is not in front of me.
What Can Mind Mapping be Used For?
Let’s say I want to start a new book project. I’ll use Mind Mapping to:
- Think through my idea before I write.
- Keep notes on any research using hyperlinks and documents.
- Brainstorm the book concept, the title, chapters, scenes, and characters.
- Visualize the structure.
- Keep track of my progress and deadlines with a checklist.
- Write/outline a blog post.
By using visual components, I can make the Mind Map appealing and easy to focus on key elements such as themes and templates.
Rearrange my ideas, chapters, etc.
What Mind Mapping software should I use?
My Mind Map of choice has been NovaMind. It is easy to learn and is only available through a subscription (a month or year $6-7). There is a “lite’ version that will allow you to test out the program before you purchase, I think it allows for 25 topics. I find NovaMind works well with the goals set above.
Another one, if willing to shell out for a perpetual or yearly cost, is MindManager. It does more than NovaMind, but it might be good if you are collaborating with others on a large project. I think it is overkill for smaller ones. But check it out, it may work for you.
One more that looks good is Mindmeister for brainstorming, etc. they are web-based so you don’t need to download anything. Task and project management seem to be included which may make this well-priced program a great one to consider.
There are a plethora of others you can find by Googling “mind mapping software.” Peruse them and perhaps try a number of the ones with a free trial to find which works best for you.
Keep in mind, you want simple and effective. These programs are going to help you organize, but you need to still do the work on the content, structure, and just down and do it writing. In the end, your talent needs to shine through.
How Do You Start?
You can begin by drawing out on paper with a colored pen to get an idea in your mind of how you think your map should look. Or just dive in, which is my preferred choice. If you opt for a paid subscription rather than a free trial, you will not be restricted with how much you include on your map. Remember, what you put add to your map can be rearranged or deleted. So play away.
YouTube videos are available for many of these programs, and that will get you started. Some of them are more up to date than others, so pay attention when watching.
Here is a simple beginning of a Mind Map using the NovaMind software. As you can see in the image at the top of the post, many programs have templates to get you started.
Start with your book or project title in the center. You want to concentrate on one idea per map. Off of the central idea are branches, in my case representing Chapters. And from those chapters, I can add additional branches for characters, plot, location, and more. Keep doing this for each of your ideas (Chapters). Don’t worry if you don’t get it right the first time. Unlike paper and pen, Mind Map parts can be reshuffled, adjusted, and moved around. There is a learning curve for each of the Mind Map software programs and it may take a little while to get the hang of it. Don’t get discouraged. You aren’t tested on this and your creativity can have no limits. These are tools to help you create your project visually. You can easily see those connections in a way that a list or outline may not capture. ADHD minds work well with visual stimulation. And you may find that you start using Mind Maps for other projects.
Most Mind mapping software will provide a means to add colors, shapes, fonts, notes, hyperlinks, documents, and pictures. As you continue to use Mind Maps, your brainstorming capabilities will increase to where you can begin streaming ideas quickly, adding branches of topics, and subtopics as you go. Remember, nothing is carved in stone. That is one of the beauties of Mind Maps.
Your Mind Map can be used as a project management tool. Checking branches off as you go.
Once you save your Mind map, added to it as your project evolves and becomes a living document. And, most Mind Maps can be shared with others for collaboration.
Remember, your Mind Map should include the main topic/theme/concept and associations or branches that you add while brainstorming. Making it your own by adding in creative elements is just the icing on top.
I am sure once you start using Mind Maps with your projects you will have found a great way to help manage your cluttered mind.