How to Make a Mind Map for Maximum Productivity

In yesterday’s post, I discussed the power and simplicity of mind maps to help you get organized.

(If you missed it, check it out here.)

Today, I want to give you a quick primer on how to make your own mind map.

If you haven’t used mind maps before, you’ll be mapping in no time. And if you are familiar with the technique, maybe you will pick up a new idea or can share one of your own.

Let’s get mapping!

How to Make Your Mind Map

As I mentioned in the previous post, you can make your map on paper or with a software application. I prefer making mind maps on a computer because it brings much more flexibility for editing. For this example, I am using MindMeister which is a great online mapping tool. (affiliate link)

Let’s jump right in and make our first map.

Here are the basic steps…

  1. Start with a Central Topic or Idea – Most mind maps are based around one central topic or idea. Maybe you are making a project list, trying to look the options for a decision, or planning a trip. Whatever your topic, place it in the center and your subtopic branches will flow out from there.
  2. Add a Subtopic or Two – Start your map by adding a branch or two. Add a subtopic and even topics below that, if appropriate. Subtopics can be questions, lists, whatever. Soon, your creative juices will be flowing and ideas will develop from each other.
  3. Let Your Ideas Flow – When I make mind maps, I let my ideas flow as quickly as I can document them. Get the thoughts out of your head. Don’t censor yourself, and add even the silliest of ideas to your map. When you edit the map you can organize the ideas.
  4. Move Things Around – One of the powerful features of mind mapping applications is the simplicity of dragging topics from branch to branch. As ideas quickly flow you will find that some subtopics are related or can be combined. Move topics to connect similar ideas or groupings. You will be surprised how easily you can quickly collate disparate ideas into an organized map.
  5. Trim the Tree – I make my mind maps quick and dirty until I am done. Then and only then will I spiff them up and make them fancy. I usually only do this if I am presenting or publishing them. They are you maps… you can decide how fancy or colorful to make them.

Here is a quick video example of me creating a simple mind map.

If you can’t see this video in your browser, click here to view it.

Tools To Use

I often get asked for productivity tool recommendations. For mind mapping, here are my favorites:

  • MindMeisterMindMeister is a great online mind mapping tool. You can create a free account and you can upgrade to a premium account with more storage. I like it because it is fast, online, and allows me to access my maps from any computer without worrying about syncing.  They also have an iPad app which I am testing out now.
  • iThoughts HD – If you are using an iPad, this is an outstanding mind mapping tool. I use it quite often. It leverages the iPad’s touch interface well. It also allows easy transfer and exporting of maps. It costs $9.99 in the iTunes App Store.
  • MindManager – MindManager is a top notch mind mapping application. I used it for many years. However, at $249 and $349 (Mac and Windows respectively) it is difficult to recommend.

As mind mapping has become more mainstream, many options have developed.  If you have a favorite, please share it in the comments below.

Your Map – Your Imagination

Mind mapping is a quick and powerful technique for organizing your thoughts.

Whether you are planning a vacation, listing your tasks, or managing a major project, mind mapping can help you keep things on track.

Some people may try to tell you the “rules” of making a mind map.

Don’t listen to them.

It’s your map. Your imagination is the limit.

Be creative and make your own mind map today.

How have you used mind mapping in your daily activities? Share your examples in the comments below?

No time for time management? Check out my online course designed to jump start your productivity! Take it online on your time and pace. As well, get direct access to me for advice and questions. Get details or enroll now by clicking here!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • http://www.joebertino.com/ joebertino

    Wow, this is really great information Craig. Thanks for sharing. Do you know if any of the tools you recommend are available for the iPhone?

    • TMNinja

      @joebertino Joe, actually yes… all three of the above make iPhone apps.

      However, I really have not used them much. I like a large canvas for mindmapping and a phone screen is a bit small. Love them on the iPad, however.

      Let me know how it works for you!

      • http://www.joebertino.com/ joebertino

        @TMNinja Damn, like I needed ANOTHER reason to get an iPad. Ha. Thanks for the advice!

  • http://www.flavors.me/jjbert joebertino

    Wow, this is really great information Craig. Thanks for sharing. Do you know if any of the tools you recommend are available for the iPhone?

  • http://www.probloggingsuccess.com/ Jane | Problogging Success

    Hi Craig,

    I love doing mind maps, although I confess that I have reduced working on it a lot these days, due to lack of time (I know that is not a comment to leave on a time management blog, as a time management writer myself LOL). Anyways, doing mindmaps is a great refresher. It is a great way to get hold of loose ideas effectively. It also boosts creativity.

    Cheers,

    Jane.

  • janesheeba

    Hi Craig,

    I love doing mind maps, although I confess that I have reduced working on it a lot these days, due to lack of time (I know that is not a comment to leave on a time management blog, as a time management writer myself LOL). Anyways, doing mindmaps is a great refresher. It is a great way to get hold of loose ideas effectively. It also boosts creativity.

    Cheers,

    Jane.

  • TMNinja

    @joebertino Joe, actually yes… all three of the above make iPhone apps.

    However, I really have not used them much. I like a large canvas for mindmapping and a phone screen is a bit small. Love them on the iPad, however.

    Let me know how it works for you!

  • http://www.flavors.me/jjbert joebertino

    @TMNinja Damn, like I needed ANOTHER reason to get an iPad. Ha. Thanks for the advice!

  • Pingback: 12 Things You Need To Do Before 2012 Arrives « The Edwards' Fam

  • PhilMunroe

    I love Mindmapping. I use it them to keep both of our cars organized. I start with the car as the focus and then each branch is a repair or oil change done. I keep branching out depending on what work was done. Makes it very easy to remember when that last brake job was done or what warranty work was done and when. I also load all my mind maps to my dropbox account and have it set so that my default mind mapping software opens them when needed.

    • TMNinja

      @PhilMunroe Thanks, Phil!

      Always like to hear all the creative uses that people use MindMaps for! :)

  • Pingback: Mindmapping – get tooled up « carefulkaty

  • http://carefulkaty.wordnet.com/ carefulkaty

    Hi Craig – another great post. 
     
    There is a software package you may be interested to try which is free & actually endorsed by Tony Buzan, the boffin who invented mind mapping.  You can find details on my blog (shameless!) carefulkaty.wordpress.com, where incidentally, I have recommended this article.. 
     
    Thanks for all the advice – keep up the good work.

    • TMNinja

       @carefulkaty Catherine, good stuff and thanks for sharing!
       
      I was already on your blog this morning!  :) (Saw the link come through…)
       
      Good tools! There are lots of great mindmapping apps out there. I am still looking for the perfect one for an iPad. :)
       
      I was going to drop you a line, but I did not see any contact info on your site. ;)
       
      Keep in touch!

      • http://carefulkaty.wordnet.com/ carefulkaty

         @TMNinja Yeah… I’m still making this blogging thing up as I go along, but you’re right.  It really is time I took care of that!

      • TMNinja

         @carefulkaty Sounds good and best wishes with your blog.
         
        Let me know if there is anything I can help you with.

  • John

    Thanks a lot! Very actual theme for me. As addition recommend to read the article “Materialization of ideas. Mental maps” – http://manprogress.com/en/methods/materialization-ideas.html

  • Pingback: Staff picks, including managing distractions, bad days & multi-tasking | Producteev by Jive

  • http://khmerbird.com/ Santel Phin

    Thank for sharing mind mapping tools, I was looking for a good and free tool to generate ideas for my short eBook. I will check out Mind Meister!