Clarify and Simplify Your Goals with Mind Maps - THINKERS Notebook

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Clarify and Simplify Your Goals with Mind Maps

[Editor's note: We are pleased to host Mich Bondesio as a guest author and curator here on the THINKERS Roundup throughout January. Last week, she wrote about bullet journaling. Learn more about Mich and her work after the essay and related links.]

"Categorization helps our brains to make sense of complexity. And mind maps provide a hierarchical category structure that helps us navigate information more easily. It’s like moving around the aisles in a supermarket to find the particular product we need.”

~ ​What is Mind Mapping (
This is the second article in our series on paper-based tools that can help you start the year right, stay the course, and end off strong. 

Mind mapping is a method that started out as a paper-focused tool, but which has migrated into the digital realm. 

The strength of mind maps lies in their versatility and creativity. You can use them for learning; planning; presenting; idea generation; problem-solving; strategizing and teaching, to name a few examples.

I use mind maps regularly as part of my business planning and project scoping. (I share an example below).

The technique is perfect for THINKERS, who can apply the method in both spheres, as we can transition between our notebook and the THINKERS app with ease.

But where did this versatile technique come from and why is it so effective?

Origins of the Mind Map

The format is one of the oldest known ways of organizing and categorizing data. 

Mind maps are visual tools which leverage our memory and creativity. They help to simplify, clarify, structure and connect our thoughts and ideas.  
Mind mapping in its current form was invented in the 1990s by late author and educational consultant, Tony Buzan.

But the roots of this technique originated in 3rd Century Greek philosophy, with the Porphyrian Tree. Versions of this format were adopted by later philosophers and artists, most notably from the 12th to 16th Century. 
Ramon Llull - L’arbre des relations logiques, 1512 edition of de la Logica nova

Mind Mapping 101

The format uses an expansive tree structure to order information. 

You start with a central topic, branching out from there to create threads using keywords, phrases, images that denote supporting ideas, topics and sub-topics. The sub-topics can be connected to the central topic with lines and arrows.

This creates a hierarchy to help order our thoughts, so we can easily make sense of what might, at first, seem like a complex problem or thought. 

At the time of writing, I’m developing a new website for my podcast, Creating Cadence. So here I’ve used a mind map to flesh out the basic pages I think I’ll need, and the most important components of each.
Scoping my website project using a mind map in my THINKERS notebook (Image: Mich Bondesio).

Why Mind Mapping Works

Our brains work in a radiant manner, connecting, associating and assimilating the ideas, memories and info that we are exposed to every day. 

Research has found that our minds can easily identify with the web-like structure of mind maps, as our brains work in the same way. So this format enables us to organize, make sense of, and remember information more easily.
“Mind maps involve a unique combination of imagery, color and visual-spatial arrangement which is proven to significantly improve recall when compared to conventional methods of note-taking and learning by rote.” 

~ Louise Cunnah, Why Mind Mapping Works (Ayoa)
Note takers are visual learners, and the spatial aspect of mind map layouts can boost our creativity by making connections between thoughts and ideas more visible. 

Adding images or doodles to our mind maps, to represent a word or concept, supports our memory retention, as they cement ideas more firmly in our minds.

The process of being in the moment as you map ideas, means that mind mapping is also a mindful practice that supports your wellbeing, focus and flow.

For THINKERS, the added benefit is that you can access your mind maps in more than one place. Using the app enables you to reference the mind map in a digital location and share it with others for their reference and comment too.
Uploading my mind map image to the THINKERS app and storing it in a  new folder.
Sharing the mind map image via email for comment, straight from my THINKERS app.

Mind Maps and You

The versatility of mind mapping offers countless applications and possibilities. They provide an opportunity to help you declutter your mind and create space for clearer thinking.

If you’re not sure where to start with applying this method, here are three suggestions for how mind maps can help you stay on course with your goals for this year.

Strategy: change the way you think about your business (from money to marketing and customer service).

Creation: flesh out a process, devise a system, plot a book, design a product, or scope a training course.

Development: design a new habit, improve your workflow, optimize your mindset.

Just like the tree structure of a mind map, remember that the roots are as important as the branches when it comes to growing and improving our business and ourselves. 

Strong foundations - like good habits, efficient processes and sound tools - can help us follow through on our plans for the year. 

And mind maps ensure we can have creative fun while we’re doing so!

Additional Reading

Tools and habits for healthy productivity

“You don’t have to be brilliant to incorporate these habits because productive people are made, not born. To become highly productive, one must learn to manage physical, mental, and emotional health. ”

Read: 2022 New year’s Resolution for a Productive Life (GitMind)

Getting visual in business

“Visual thinking is about bringing sometimes messy, simple visuals into everyday conversations so your teams can better capture information, process ideas, and communicate with others. It’s a very human-centered skill that has value for the individual and really shines when used in collaboration with others.”

Read: 10 Uses for Visual Thinking in Business (Relumed)

Breaking down creative barriers

“Some of the world’s greatest inventions started out as a simple idea in someone’s head. You may sometimes feel that you have the initial seeds of a creative idea bubbling underneath the surface of your brain, but are unsure of how to materialize this into something tangible. Having a process to help draw these ideas into the light can make all the difference."

Read: How Mind Mapping Boosts Your Creativity (Innovation Management)

About Mich Bondesio

Mich Bondesio is the founder of Growth Sessions and the host of the Creating Cadence podcast. She also publishes a bi-monthly newsletter called Cadence - Life & Work in Motion

Mich is a writer, coach and consultant with a focus on ‘Intentional Productivity’ and the Future of Work. Her aim is to help people develop more mindful approaches to work, to better support their digital wellbeing and creativity. 

Mich loves journaling and is a fan of paper-based productivity methods. Read last week's essay on bullet journaling here.