Mindmap: How to be 10X more productive

How can I structure all this information?

For an avid reader or a simple high school student, there could be too much information to absorb. We struggle when we want to teach, express and structure our ideas. We even consider “organizing our ideas” to be the oldest problem in the world.

If the traditional system taught us to make plans, we soon encounter its limits. We now discover a better and richer way that will engage the whole faculties of our brain.

The problem with traditional methods

Text and linear taking-note methods use only a tiny fraction of our brain’s real potential. Traditional education system favors the sole use of our left brain. For example, we were taught to develop logic, rational thinking, order and language with subjects such as mathematics, algebra and programming. To help you understand better, think about a computer. A computer “thinks” in a linear and sequential way. To solve a problem, it uses different functions such as conditionals and “if-statements”.

For years, even decades, we rarely used our right brain’s functions in occurrence imagination, global view, analogy, creativity… We were “trained” to conduct our activities in a way that reduces our ability to think and value.

Working together

What is mind mapping?

Mind mapping is a visual representation of ideas and information using diagrams called mind maps. It is a powerful visual method (not linear) for organizing our ideas, exploring and generating even more ideas. A Mind map mixes both logical and creative thinking. It then solves the linear method’s limits.

The organic arborescence and architecture of a Mind map reminds us of how neurons function. The transmission of information uses a system of links where two neurons transmit information via their synapses.

Whereas a traditional note-taking is made up of dashes and sentences copied word for word with a dull black pen, a mind map is funny, colorful. It starts from a core of ideas and grows in all directions into branches.

The origins of mind map

Visual information representation practices have existed since Socrates’ time. For centuries, we used spatial organization of information by drawing mind maps. Graphic representations however were solely used in medicine, education and engineering.

Tony Buzan who was an English educator, writer and psychologist spread the concept of Mind map in the 1970s. Note that Tony did not create this old concept of Mind Mapping. He promoted on a large scale this concept as old as Aristotle has taught them.


Writing in a notebook


Understand why mind mapping is so powerful: How an idea is generated

A new idea is generated by a large network of older ideas.  When we have a brainstorming session, we can see that a new idea is generated by multiple old related ideas. Instead of thinking like a computer, our brain adopts a more multilateral and spreading fashion. When we draw new branches in our mind map, it has the advantages of generating even more new ideas.

How to use a mind map?

Imagine a better way that helps us structure information. Mind mapping visually structures information and helps us better understand, synthesize and analyze. It is such a fabulous way to represent concepts and ideas graphically. Why do I love mind mapping so much? In addition to its simplicity and efficiency, maybe it’s also because I am left-handed, using mostly my right brain.

You always start from the center of your page. This is the heart of your mind-map. You can write a word symbolizing your problem. For example, in 2010, I used a gigantic mind-map to organize my summer holidays. The heart of my mind map was simply “Vacation 2010”, which I surrounded with a kind of cloud.

  • Mind mapping presents the information in a more visual way.
  • Mind mapping engages our brain and uses all its faculties in a much richer way.

The daily use of mind mapping revolutionized my life. It’s yet such a simple yet polyvalent tool to gain time whenever we use it while getting much efficiency.

Geniuses like Einstein, Darwin, Leonard Da Vinci all used a form of mind mapping, distilling their knowledge and information in a visual manner. This helped them not only remember better but also discover new theories.


mind map example


How to use a mind map using only a paper or a mind mapping software?

You will need a sheet of paper, colored pencils or pens. There are also software that will help you easily draw a mind map. I’ve been using Mindjet MindManager for years.

–          Write or draw the idea in the middle of a blank page (in a landscape orientation)

–          Always put a picture in the middle of your mind map. Pictures stimulate and generate thousands of associations. It contributes to a large extent for better memorization.

–          Link and develop sub-themes around this central idea. Circle and connect each to the main idea with a line

–          Repeat the same process for the second level sub-themes (the ‘sub-sub-themes’, if you like). You can create as many sub-themes as you like.

–          Use pictures as often as possible (it is a good mnemonic and a picture catches the eye)

–          Pictures stimulates the right brain which manages emotion, analogy and imagination

–          As we talk about mnemonic, do not hesitate to combine memorization techniques while drawing your mind map

–          Use only a keyword per branch

–          Vary the text size and the text color

–          Vary the thickness and length of the lines.


how to use a mind map


Example of mind mapping gains

–          Faster and better note taking

–          Clarify and organize your ideas

–          Problem solving made easy

–          Organize your data and filter the essentials

–          Memorize better (I always draw a mind map for my speeches or just before an interview)

–          Find new ideas

–          Organize an event (to-do-list, who is responsible etc…)

–          And overall a greater self-confidence because we’re sure to find the right information when needed