This article is dedicated to all mind mappers who struggle with the amount of time they spend mind mapping. There are a few steps you could take to overcome this issue and spend less and less time doing something that is supposed to be a time reducing, effective, fun and creative activity.
1. M is for Minimalism
If you want to save up a huge amount of mind mapping time, then minimalism should become your new favorite word. In mind mapping, minimalism is everything!
Whether you are doing a paper or digital mind map version, you will have to be practical and make a smart use of the space at disposal.
Avoid drawing or using images for your branches as they take much more time to create. I understand how much are visuals important for visual learners, but a mind map itself is a visual so getting rid of some of its potential elements would not do much hurt to the whole experience.
Also, remember that creating mind maps is all about keywords. Resist the temptation of becoming wordy. Instead, use from one to three word per branch or, even better, use abbreviations for terms that are your second nature.
If you are developing a new concept, make sure you create a comprehensive mind map of the most important keywords but avoid making as many sub-branches as possible – they might get you in a vicious and never-ending circle of divisions and classifications.
2. Overcome Perfectionism
Let’s face it: you cannot be a perfectionist when the clock is ticking. When short in time, being a perfectionist would only make you more frustrated and less productive.
The first step to making a mind map in a short period of time is to set up your mind that it probably won’t look like a million-dollar-image. First of all, try not to panic if each branch or sub-branch is not in a different or in the same shade of colour.
Try to save as much time as you can by reducing the number of colours; black and white structure may look old-school, but it always works. Plus, it will add to the minimalism. Another thing you would have to master is to learn how to prioritize.
Perfectionists tend to overthink and add all the necessary and less necessary details. Have in mind that most of those details are already in your head – you just need to right keyword to trigger the memory of them.
There is more of this in the next section since it is more tightly connected with finding the right keyword.
3. Relevance is Key
As obvious as it sounds, relevant keywords are the key – but people tend to forget this and then things get needlessly complicated. Even when you are doing a mind map in a hurry, you should spend most of your time finding the right keyword, especially on the main branches. Do not mind map everything – you will see that you can remember and recall more information than you think – all you need is the right keyword as a stimulus. In general, there is an unspoken rule which says that the more complex an idea is, the better it will be presented in a mind map. This is because we get to think in more abstract and specific umbrella-terms that would grasp the gist of the concept. When elaborating simple concepts (or ideas) we tend to go into details which are not recommended to be listed in a mind map since they will present the idea more complex than it actually is.
4. Repeat Repeat Repeat
Mind mapping, just like any other skill you would like to develop, takes practice, focus and time. So as monotonous and predictable as it may seem, just repeat and continue mind mapping until it becomes your second nature. Quality is built on constant repetitions, regardless if they are correct or incorrect at the beginning. If you continuously increase the speed of the correct repetitions, the chances of doing them correctly will increase. Thus, with time, each mind map you make will take you less time to create than the previous one. Of course, the complexity of the topic at hand plays a big role in the time you would need to mind map it, but you will notice a drastic advancement of your mind mapping skills nonetheless. You know what they say: “repetition is the mother of all learning”. And Zig Ziglar has expanded it – “Repetition is the mother of all learning, the father of action, which makes it the architect of accomplishment.” So all you have to do is: repeat, repeat, repeat.
5. The 10 Minute Challenge
At the end of the day, everything is mastered better when it is set up as a challenge. One thing you could try is the 10 Minute Challenge. Set a timer and see how much you could branch an idea and how in-depth your analysis would be. It is even better if you have a determined and competitive spirit – you could try a 30-day-mapping-challenge! Set up a topic for each day, set up the timer at 10 minutes, and ready – set – go! There is no better way to spot the difference in time and the advancement of your mind mapping skills than by doing this for a whole month. If you lack inspiration, you might make mind maps of your favorite books that you would not like to forget. Another option is to challenge a friend and do some mind mapping on the same topic, concept or idea. Not only will you practice your time-management skills, but you would be astonished by how different your mind maps will turn out in the end. In this way, you will learn and get inspired by one another, and develop your ideas together.
I hope you found some of these suggestions useful. Note that these steps do not produce instant results – it takes time to master them but once you do, you will spend more quality time mind mapping. Let me know in the comments below if you use any other technique for faster mind mapping.
About the author
Tea Duza, Literature enthusiast with an unfathomable interest in art in general. Believes that literature can change the world. Moto: 'There's not such thing as too many books - only not enough bookshelves.' Bike and jazz lover who goes through life with a healthy doze of skepticism. Travelholic. You can connect with Tea on LinkedIn.