Millions of people already use mind maps to further their productivity, enhance their study efforts, brainstorm and collaborate with others. Their number keeps increasing as more and more people discover the many benefits of mind mapping every day. But still mind mapping is frowned upon by many of us when we first hear about it. We make a face as if to say “Oh please, leave me alone with this nonsense” or produce a reason for why the technique isn’t suitable for our particular needs.
After numerous conversations of this kind, we’ve realized that
- all the various assumptions people make are largely the same, and
- most of them are really just that – assumptions.
Take a look at the following list of reasons not to mind map and judge for yourself.
1. “I can’t draw.”
While some people are surely more talented than others, saying that you can’t draw is – in most cases – simply not true. If you can hold a pen and use it to write, you can also use it to draw. Your drawings might not look as good as you’d like them to, but the point of drawing in a mind map is not to create an art piece for a gallery opening. The point is to personalize your map with images and recognizable symbols and thus make it easier for your brain to remember the map’s content.
If you still can’t get used to the drawing part, there’s always digital mind mapping, where you can choose your icons and images from a library.
2. “This is kid’s stuff.” / “Mind maps are unprofessional.”
The statement “This is kid’s stuff” is partially true, seeing as mind maps are indeed a technique even preschoolers can use. But to conclude that they are not suitable for grown-ups or that they are unprofessional would be a mistake. Mind maps are being used by a steadily growing number of businesses and entrepreneurs, who appreciate the value of this powerful presentation, collaboration and project management tool. Digital and online mind mapping solutions usually offer a user interface perfectly suitable for businesses and their maps look as professional as it gets.
3. “Mind maps can only hold so much information.”
While this is partly true for paper mind maps, which are usually limited to the space of a paper sheet, digital and online mind maps are a completely different story. Since you can add links, images and notes to each topic, digital maps can actually be used as data pools or knowledge compilations, and hold a technically unlimited amount of information (depending on the software used and the way the information is stored). With the right system, even paper maps can hold huge amounts of information while still being clearer than linear notes. More about this under point 6.
4. “Mind mapping takes longer than making linear notes.”
A lot of students think that, because there is drawing involved in a mind map, they take more time to create than your standard linear notes. The truth is, you can spend hours perfecting your mind map to turn it into a piece of art, if that’s what you want to do. But in most cases, mind maps will actually help you save time. Instead of jotting down every bit of information, filling page after page in your notebook, a mind map forces you to consciously decide which information is important enough to become its own node i.e. topic and to eliminate filler words. Later, when you use the map to revise the material, you have fewer notes to go through and can view all the important information at a glance.
5. “I’m a linear thinker.”
Some of us are so accustomed to processing information stored in a linear manner that they’ve really become quite good at it. But that doesn’t necessarily make them linear thinkers, at least not in an exclusive manner.
Even if you feel comfortable with your old thinking method, why wouldn’t you want to utilize other techniques that can improve your creativity, memory and problem solving abilities? Why would you limit yourself, when expanding your range of tools and techniques might give you a competitive advantage? Linear thinking, radiant thinking, visual, lateral or parallel thinking – why not try to combine them all to make use of your brain’s full potential?
6. “Mind maps aren’t practical.”
Many people who are used to storing their information in notebooks or Word documents think that mind maps just aren’t practical as an everyday solution. Most of the time, they are worried about 3 things:
Running out of space on their paper sheet when dealing with big, complex topics.
There is an easy solution for that: Instead of trying to squeeze all the important information on one sheet of paper, use the hierarchical structure of your map and only add the highest 3-4 levels to your main map. This map will function as your index map or directory. Draw a new map on a new sheet for every 4th level topic, including the next 2-3 levels of information. With color codes or symbols you can easily link the sub-maps to their respective nodes on the index map. With some software solutions, you can actually link your maps and easily jump back and forth between them.
- Not being able to store their maps properly.
You can store paper maps in a binder or folder, just like you would with any other note sheet, or you can scan them and put them into a digital filing system. Online mind mapping software even lets you store all your mind maps in a cloud and access them from any computer or even mobile device.
- Not being able to share their maps with others.
Well, you can share paper maps like you would share any other piece of paper, that is, make a paper copy of it, or scan it in and share a digital copy. The various mind mapping software solutions use different formats for their maps, but they usually offer import options for a number of formats other than their own. Online solutions such as MindMeister even allow you to share your maps with entire groups of users and collaborate with them in real time.
7. “I’ve gone through my entire life without this. Why should I start now?”
Well, this is a really bad reason not to try something new. Here’s our answer why you should:
- Mind maps are easy to create.
- They are a professional business tool.
- They can hold big amounts of information.
- They help you save time.
- They improve creativity, memory and problem solving abilities.
- They are extremely practical.
Can you think of another reason not to mind map? Let us know in the comments below so we can discuss your argument!