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I've read descriptions of mind mapping before, and understand the basic concepts of the system (nonlinear, graphical representation of thoughts.) I've even read the descriptions of how mind maps are supposed to be done. When brainstorming, however, I find myself uncertain of the results.

What tips and tricks are out there for mind mapping? Are there any best practices for organizing or fleshing out mind maps?

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up vote 15 down vote accepted

What is it you are uncertain of?

There is no such thing as a wrong mind map. If you start worrying that you are doing something wrong then that will hold you back. Just churn stuff out and chuck it on the map.

Start with the topic you are mapping in the middle. Then anything that comes to mind about the topic, write it down and draw a line between it and the central topic. Then repeat with the new "node". Don't hold back on anything.

If you feel that nodes that are on opposite sides of the page should be connected, don't worry about it, just draw a big line connecting them... It doesn't matter if any of the connecting lines cross over.

Think of yourself as a crazy artist. It may help to be as creative as you can with the ideas. Use different colours for each branch.. draw pictures.

Go crazy and don't hold back!

When you feel you have fully dumped your brain you may be left with a huge mess, but there are probably some excellent ideas that have come out. If you want to can then copy that into a new, neater map. The process of doing that may bring new insights which may prompt you to create another map, and so forth!

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This was the trouble I originally had with mind-maps - I was afraid to do it "wrong", especially considering all the colorful, artful examples you often see. It is ok to have lines connecting things across the page. And like so many things, it's a skill and you'll have less and less of those. One day I did one that was non-trivial and captured so much -- it was awesome(!) and it was only black pen, word, circles, and lines. [well, kinda sorta "circles"] – eflat Feb 23 '12 at 17:59
  1. Grab a pen and piece of paper and start doodling a mind map on a subject that interests you.

  2. When a convention that would make your map easier to read occurs to you, make note of it, then start using it in earnest.

  3. Repeat.

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That's my current approach to improving my usage - what I'm looking for are the notes that may exist out in the world others have come up with. – jasedit Jun 27 '11 at 20:28

The presentation tool, Prezi, is effectively a mind map tool, and there are some demo presentations which may be of interest:

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Cool presentation. Can you import a mind map from other progs to Prezi? Prezi makes beautiful presentations, but a mind mapping tool should mainly just get out of the way while you are brain storming. – Adam Jul 16 '11 at 13:41
you can, but only using pdf format at the moment. They seem to be looking at xml import functionality though.… – Rory Alsop Jul 16 '11 at 19:06

I've started directly with I haven't noticed improvements at first, but I can say that most details for projects come to me faster than making lists.

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Welcome to Personal Productivity! Whilst this may theoretically answer the question, it would be preferable to include the essential parts of the answer here, and provide the link for reference. – HedgeMage Jul 12 '11 at 4:05

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