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When I'm trying to figure out a problem, I find it helpful to sketch out the parts of it on paper. Be it words or drawings, brainstorming thoughts into a visual form is quite effective for me to clarify what I am dealing with.

Have there been studies on how drawing or writing things out on paper can help one to focus and work more effectively?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

There are, but there's zero chance that they would be useful.

You've found something that works for you -- will it work any more or less well depending on how many other people it works well for?

Added info courtesy of David Antaramian:

If you absolutely must have a study, pick anything from Google Scholar. Especially interesting is "Mind mapping as a tool in mathematics education". You might also want to take a look at Tony Buzan's books. He is credited with originally coining the term "mind map" and developing the philosophy behind it.

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I full agree with HedgeMage. And if you absolutely must have a study, pick anything from Google Scholar (scholar.google.com/…) my personal recommendation of which is "Mind mapping as a tool in mathematics education" (complabs.nevada.edu/~byerleyc/MT96296.pdf). You might also want to take a look at Tony Buzan's books. He is credited with originally coining the term "mind map" and developing the philosophy behind it. –  David Antaramian Jun 25 '11 at 7:13
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-1: I think this is an unnecessarily cynical and unhelpful response. It's widely accepted that diagrams are helpful tools for planning and summarising complex problems. Research indicating that a particular tool is helpful for many other people is a strong indication that it might be helpful for you too. For example, that's the purpose of this entire website! –  ire_and_curses Jun 26 '11 at 6:42
    
Fair remark. I realized how useful mindmapping was (for me), and wondered if there was any research on it. That's all. –  Grant Palin Jun 26 '11 at 18:46
    
Though I understand where the HedgeMage is coming from, I agree with ire_and_curses. I do sometimes groan a little when I see such questions, but I am at times surprised by what a study can show. It's not so much the overall result, but I often learn subtlies, distinctions, and techniques from a more formal perspective than I've learned from picking up bits and pieces online. –  eflat Feb 23 '12 at 18:25
    
I would second @DavidAntaramian: Tony Buzan's book The Mind Map Book is a good resource for studies and so on, though it might be considered biased. –  Mei Feb 24 '12 at 22:12

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