Mindmapfulness: combining mind, information and flow

Have you heard of mindfulness? It is the system for focusing your attention and awareness that many people are testing, using and falling in love with. One of the things practitioners of mindfulness say is that they are much more in control over their thoughts and mind and are no longer running their lives.

I believe we, as mind mappers, should be more aware of mindmapfulness. It will help us in getting more from our own mind maps. I’m sure that is what you want and like, right?


Mindmapfulness, The Start

A mind map is just a tool, nothing more nothing less. The moment you realize this, you will become less of a slave to mind mapping. I’ve seen this happen many times. People creating mind maps like they read in a book. Just following the technique because that is what is “the best way of making maps” or so they say.

And they are creating maps for just about anything. Why? Because mind mapping is something you can use for anything (is their answer then).

I’ve been doing training courses with many people. I’ve seen my share of mind mapping applications from note taking to presentations to personal development to goal setting. Some things are better done in mind maps (like some situations where you need to take notes), sometimes it is better to not use mind maps at all (for example when you are creating a weekly planning based on the days of the week).

Remember this: mind mapping is just a simple and smart tool. It is not the tool that solves all your problems!


Mindmapfulness, Moving Forward

Once you realize that mind mapping is a tool, and not the solution, you can move forward.

There is no real need to create mind maps the way you see in most of the books. Sure, in the beginning it is a nice method you can use step by step to create a result that is reliable and easy to re-create in different situations.

Still, this only works if you can’t think freely.

When you’ve been creating a couple of dozen mind maps, you will see that some parts of mind mapping are really easy using the traditional mind mapping method. Other things (like drawing or using different colours in your map) are not that easy. They will hold you back, give you the feeling you are wasting time, and are just feeling plain stupid. No worries, this happens to all the people who want to grow and learn more.

Remember: don’t be rigid. Adjust and Amaze. Not just yourself but also the people around you. You’ll become relaxed and you will deliver more in less time.


Mindmapfulness Removing Restrictions

This one is powerful not just for you, but for everybody who ever had problems with their information. Of course you can create mind maps to create more overview and insight in a situation, problem or idea. Would you create mind maps only? I think you should be aware of the dangers of doing that.

A mind map is a tool which links ideas, concepts or thoughts to each other. The mind map creates real life fixed links between them. This could be great to summarize the entire outcome of a brain storm session. But… why would you limit yourself during the brain storm?

Make sure you remove any lines between concepts, thoughts, ideas, or solutions. Let the content float freely. Let it interact with whatever it wants to interact with. It might be difficult in the beginning if you have been a big mind map user for a long time. After all, information needs to be connected to each other to make sense, right?

Don’t you worry. Information isn’t fixed or always connected to the same thing in your mind as well. Information is allowed to float freely in your mind. It will do this until you make it stop and become a fixed idea, habit, restriction in your life.

When you do brain storm sessions in groups, or you make mind maps with other people together, you might want to keep an open mind and focus on what is really important (which is more than often not the connections between information but the proximity of thoughts and concepts). Clouds or groups of information make sense, trust me (or better yet, test it out yourself and see what happens with your information).

Remember: information is not fixed, situations change, let information flow where it needs to go and have the highest value for you.


Is Mindmapfulness Something For You?

I believe if you read the information above and you still want to create mind maps like you have been doing before, you are not doing yourself a favour. In fact, you are limiting yourself. Like Bruce Lee said, be like water. Flow where you can flow; be soft and strong when needed.

Make sure your mind is not limited by the idea of creating a mind map a certain way. Test, adjust, amaze, grow, enjoy!

Yes, this may be a little direct or harsh or impolite of me to say it like this. Still, you know I am telling the truth. Creating mind maps for the sake of creating overviews is not smart.

The very moment you understand what a mind map can do for you and what it is, you should investigate and figure out how you can have mindmapfulness.

Good luck growing, building, amazing!


How Big Is Your Mental Tank?

Did you ever hear the story that a turtle grows to a size that is suitable for the tank he/she is in? What this means is that you take the turtle and you put it in a bigger tank, the turtle will grow further. Did you ever read or hear this? What I learned is that it isn’t true. Must be some hoax story…


I do believe it is something that we should be looking at for ourselves as well. We live in our own tank or environment. I definitely believe that we grow to the potential we allow ourselves to grow or that our environment allows us to grow.

You see, most people won’t grow that much. They get hold back by the ideas their parents put in their mind, the friends they have, the study limitations, the money issues they have, and many more factors.

All of this limits people. This is easy to understand I guess. When your parents tell you that you are stupid, and they repeat that over and over again, you start believing it. Or when they tell you that a girl from your neighbourhood will never be someone important, you start to think that it’s true. Very few children are able to resist this. That isn’t that strange of course. Parents are usually the most important people in a child’s life. They learn from their parents.

Many children take the views of their parents and live by them. This could be a political party they favour, the way they think and what they eat, how to treat each other, etc. All of these are things you learn from your parents.

Later on (boy- and girl-) friends influence you the most. I read that you are the average of the five people you spend most of your time with. Is that true for you as well? Want to change your life? Change people or friends. Looking to earn more money? Hang out with wealthy people (duh… it is smarter to hang out with them than waste time with financial losers :) ). Want to improve your memory? Spend time with memory experts and people with excellent brain control.

What do you tell yourself when things are difficult? Or skip difficult… what is your normal self-talk? Is it positive? Is it uplifting? Does it talk you down? This is important stuff! So you better learn to listen to yourself. Your future does depend on it!

Have you heard of the Peter Principle?

This principle states that people get promoted just beyond their ability. Or to say it slightly different… people get promoted to the level of their incompetence. You see this happen a lot in organizations. People need to earn more money, but they need to do a different job then (manage for example). What happens is that this is not what they are good at and they fail.

During my training courses, I often hear from many people being in the same situation. Only a hand full is able to tell me that they took a step back and accepted a job that paid slightly less, but on the upside are able to do the job they like. How very good of them to do this, right?

For most of us, we grow to the size of our limitations. Note that this is all stuff in our mind. Ideas implanted by other people, or by ourselves based on random events we interpreted falsely. Or, and this is even more devastating… ideas that were true when we were young, but now hold no ground what so ever.

What do you think will happen if you change environment?

What happens when you start thinking in possibilities and completely remove the idea of limitations?

What is the result of you knowing you can learn anything you want, become anyone you desire, have everything you need/want?


Let’s make a deal.

Let me know if you are up to making real changes in your life.

From now on you DECIDE you get a bigger mental tank. In fact… your mental tank from now on is without borders. This won’t make you overly confident. It will not make you arrogant. I personally believe that when you shine, you help others do the same (not my words, just my interpretation of Marianne Williamson).

Here’s a really cool inspirational piece that more people should listen to in the morning, while running, when they feel bad… basically every day :) :

I am certain that for every limitation you have in your mind, you can find at least 5 reasons why this isn’t true and why you are able to move beyond what you think/feel/do.

How beautiful or safe it feels in your own mental tank where you take control over your life. But there is so much more outside that tank waiting for you to discover and enjoy it! Sure, there are as always dangers, problems and challenges as well. Still, the reward of growing bigger than you are now is an amazing experience. It is something that you can do at your own pace. No need to rush things. You decide what the size of your mental tank will be.

When you want to have a tank that allows you to speak 5 languages, feel confident where ever you are, enjoy the life you always thought you could live, whatever you want. Go ahead change the tank. Feel free to amaze yourself!

Now let me ask you again…

How Bit Is Your Mental Tank?

image: clown fish

Mind Mapping And Motivation

As you know, mind mapping is a wonderful tool to create notes faster, present information to yourself and to others better, outline thoughts clearer and so much more.

While most people probably use mind mapping for notes or presenting information, it is really easy to use it for motivation as well. Let’s have a look at that together right now. As always, don’t just read what I tell you. Use the information you learn. Apply it in your own life. Adjust if needed. Benefit from it and grow! And if you like let me know about your successes and tell others about them as well.


The Problem With Determination (and the fix)

I talk with many people about how they can benefit from techniques, systems and ideas they learn. Many people love to learn new things. Most of them however won’t use the information in their own lives. Why? Because it is difficult to maintain the change, especially near the end of the day.

You see, motivation is really powerful. It is much more powerful than something called “determination”. Each morning, right after you really get up and running, you also receive your daily dose of determination.

The reason I say you receive it AFTER you get up, is something you can probably understand and may even witness in yourself every morning. I’m sure you would agree with me when I say that it is often times hard to get up (especially in the morning). When you’re in your warm bed while it’s still dark and perhaps cold outside, then you have to get up…that would be a major bummer. It’s during these times when you really need enough determination to make yourself get out of bed.

Things like getting fired, crying kids, a penalty for getting late at school…these are pretty good motivators. The pain you get from these are much bigger than the pain you get from getting out of bed.

So when you are finally up, you understand you have determination you can use.

The funny thing with determination is this. You usually run out of it during the day and almost always it’s quite difficult to be determined again once you lost it. That is… until the next day. Tomorrow you start with a fresh ‘batch’ of determination again.

It is easy to see that determination runs out. In the morning you can have lots of determination not to eat candy or junk food. But between 5 and 7 in the evening… things change. You probably need some snack or chocolate or candy, right? It is much harder to resist then. I think people in supermarkets and gas stations understand this and they really tempt you in buying comfort food…

Fortunately there is a solution and it is called motivation!


Why Motivation Is So Important

Motivation is much more powerful than determination. For instance… motivation can increase during the day. It only depends on your focus and your willingness to succeed and reach your goal.

Motivation can help you get up in the morning 30 minutes earlier. No determination needed for that!

Motivation, when you really find it, is an endless well of inspiration and strength. It is there when you need it and it helps you move forward.

As I wrote, it depends on your focus and willingness.

Do you know why you are doing what you are doing? Are you living a life with purpose? Why are you working? Why are you studying? Why do you have a family? Why are you working out?

The moment you have an absolutely strong reason (or answer), you are set!

When you are studying because you just want to earn a degree, that would be fine. It is not wrong, but it is not powerful either. When you do this because you are doing it to feed your children, get a better paid job, make yourself and your family proud, have the degree and show others that you are able to actually accomplish it, then those are really good and powerful reasons to keep you going.

Make your answers as compelling as possible. Of course it may take you a couple of minutes, hours or perhaps weeks to find the most powerful answer. I am sure you can find your reasons. Don’t worry about the time it takes you. This is the foundation that you are working on! When this is done right, you have an unlimited amount of energy you can use (especially when things get rough).

If you don’t find that compelling reason, think about it again. Is this something you want to spend or perhaps waste your time on? Isn’t there something else that is even more important to you that you can do?

Or… perhaps you need to look a bit further to find that real reason which makes you and the people around you happy.

If you don’t like it at school, when you hate the people in your classes, or you don’t like the classes at all…you could also think a few steps further and look at your situation on a more positive note. Start by thinking that by finishing school you could move to the next  level (that is when your grades are good enough). It is your stepping stone to eventually get into a really high paying job that will allow you to buy what you want, go where you like to go, help people who you like to help, etc.

Don’t limit yourself and only think about the next few months. Look further. Dare to dream.

That’s why motivation is important. Now you know, start looking at your life and answer the simple questions in the following format:

Why am I doing {fill in the activity}?

Find the answer and understand your source of motivation. Find your drive.

Understanding and knowing this… it is time to move forward with this and combine it with mind mapping.


Mind Mapping And Motivation, Let’s Do It!

You found your source of motivation. You only need to add focus to the ‘secret’ recipe and you are good to go.

There are many ways to help you stay focused. One thing you can do is start visualizing your future self having the thing you are working on so hard right now.

This is great and I highly recommend it to you!

Another thing you can do is start visualizing your source of motivation on paper. For this a mind map is a good place to start.

Just outline your thoughts and ideas on paper using a mind map with as many branches as you like.

What you can do is follow the following formats:




Here’s what I mean with these:

  • REASON: what is your reason for doing this?
  • RESULT: what is the outcome of what you do?
  • FEELING: how do this make you feel?
  • TIME FRAME: when do you (plan to) achieve this?
  • TO DO: what will you do to get this?

Each one can be many different ones of course. You can have 5 reasons, expect 4 results, have 6 things to do, you will have the following things, etc.

Mix these around if you like. You can change the order, add other sub topics, change the map in a free floating topics map, etc.

What also works really well is asking even more questions to yourself, so do something like this:


Go to the real reasons, not the superficial ones. Dive deep into your actions, feelings and motivations. Don’t assume that this can be done in minutes. In that case I can say you didn’t examine yourself thoroughly. Really dive deep and get the real information on the table (or in the mind map).

There is a simple check you can do to know if you found the real reason. Just look at what you found. Does this excite you? Will it help you create a really good feeling, a sense of direction, meaning in your life?

If so, you probably found your source of motivation. If not, you are either not getting excited about what you do or you didn’t find the real source yet.

The mind map is just the starting point of your motivation map or overview. You can start with a mind map and convert it into other formats like concept maps, summaps, a time line, flowchart, etc.

My point is, you do this and create a powerful sheet with reasons and feelings. Yep, that’s right, just one sheet that shows you it all.

You could even underline or highlight the 1 or 2 most important ideas from the map to keep you focused even more.

Then, you start using the overview. You start living your life, but now with passion, inspiration and motivation. From now on you can get up earlier, work longer, eat good foods, go to the gym, study more, etc.


Now Just Use It!

For many people, the specific reasons are probably different. Still, the underlying sources are probably the same. People want to see that they move forward, help others, or feel good about what they do.

When you find this source of motivation inside yourself, you are a very lucky (wo-)man!

Now you might think… this all sounds great on paper/screen, but does it really work in real life?

I have a small assignment for you.

Go back to a moment in time when you really felt amazing. You were on top of the world. You were a huge success, you felt loved by the right person or by many people. You held your baby in your arms for the first time. Or you heard that you got that special job. Or you gave a presentation and everybody stood up and cheered.

Think about that one big moment in your life.

I am sure you felt nothing could stop you, right? You probably felt… no let me correct that, you were certain that you were the biggest person in the world. Nothing could stop you. You felt bigger than life itself. You knew you could do anything you want.

Do you have that moment? Do you see it vividly in your mind’s eye?

This exact feeling is what you get every time when you know your reasons for doing what you do. This is what is your source of energy. That one moment in time you just tapped into it and were able to feel it.

Now you know how you can access it any time you want.

So my question is simple…

Do you want to feel that way again?

If you did not find the reason(s) we discussed before, start with the amazing feeling you had before. What made you feel so strong, powerful, amazing? Investigate, learn, make conscious and use!

I am sure when you feel bad, sad, weak or see no way of moving forward and you simply have to fall back into old destructive habits (over-eating, smoking, cheating, etc.) you think back about this moment. You think back and know you are bigger than what you were planning to do.

Truth is, it could simply be eating an apple in stead of a burger, going away from where you are and not taking the easy route, or anything you want.

Real life situations can be difficult. The only thing you need to remember is that you are stronger than you normally feel you are. Remember and grow. Motivation is something you have inside of you and it never runs out!

Enjoy and if you like to, send me your map so we can have a look at it together. I love to assist you in asking some questions.

Is the mind mapping hype already over?

Strange question perhaps on the mind map central website. But really, look at it. So many people know about mind mapping these days. We have hundreds of mind mapping applications. People are talking about mind mapping in many companies and on even more websites. Mind mapping is over 40 years old now, with a big boost/bubble these last few years.

So is my question really that strange?

Is the mind mapping hype really over and can we get back to our normal business?

I received this question a few days ago from a very smart person who learned about mind mapping and occasionally uses it.

My first thought was that I really hoped that a mind mapping hype (if we even had such a thing) was over. It meant we could go back to doing what we are supposed to do. In fact, I always tell people it is never about mind mapping. It is always about using a tool like mind mapping and making our lives easier.

For me, a mind map is one of the tools I use to remove the noise from my life. A mind map helps me to take a lot of information and reduce it to the core. This gives me a lot more insight in what I am dealing with and what I could/should do.

My second thought was that I hope that the mind mapping hype (again… is there such a thing), was not even starting yet. Let me explain.

For me, mind mapping is using our information in a different way than most of us are taught to do. We should start to make better use of our brains. Let’s face it. Your brain is an amazing tool. We under-use it immensely on a daily basis. We could remember so much more so much easier, or read so much faster, or feel happy or at least a whole lot better…if we learned how to use our brain.

For me, the mind mapping hype hasn’t even started yet.

Many people are helping millions of people around the world to make better use of their brains. A mind map is just a simple tool to do that. In the years to come, many people learn to create mind maps. A small portion of them will actually learn not to just create mind maps, but make mind maps work for them. They won’t just create mind maps. They create smart, powerful, amazing, simple maps that help them achieve goals and understand information and perhaps even their own life.

Don’t worry about what the name is. It could be mind mapping or another name. My goal is to make sure you use your brain and information smarter. I don’t do hypes. I continue to work on and with a legacy that was started thousands of years ago when people were able to use their brains often a whole lot better than we are doing right now.

Enjoy your brain, your mind, and your mind maps!

Your Daily Mind Map Which Brings You Home On Time

During training courses I often ask my clients if they usually work late or whether they don’t get to finish their academic work on time. Probably you will not be surprised if I tell you that (easily) over 75% of them tells me that they usually don’t get to finish their work on time. Not really because they are incompetent or because they have too much work to do. Rather it’s usually because they get distracted too much. Or in other words, they simply have too much “noise” in their lives.

This is really sad of course. Because ideally people should earn money and still be able to go home early and enjoy some  family bonding or quality personal time. I know you agree with me on this one. Most definitely this slave-driving habit many people are practicing nowadays need to change! If you are in the same position right now then I might just have the best solution for you.

The most important thing you can do is use the simple technique I will give you below. It is part of the 3×3 solutions kit for getting things done and removing noise in your life. (just like the 3×3 goals technique I shared earlier with you).


Understand This To Go Home On Time

Getting home on time is not something you decide just before you log off your computer or leave the office.

Getting home starts much earlier. In fact, you can say it starts either when you wake up every morning, or when you go to bed in the evening prior to your work/study day.

That’s right, you decide to go home on time long before you actually do go home (on time).

The reason this works so well is because of the fact that when you decide this early enough, your mind and actions will be focused on achieving that goal. All your actions will be consciously and (probably even more) subconsciously determined by your goal.

You might say this is just a matter of programming your mind. The moment you decide on something, your brain can’t help itself but actually focus on that goal. Even when it becomes annoying for you sometimes (because you keep on thinking about going home early).

What many people will do to prove this point to you is making you NOT think about pink elephants. You can’t help yourself, right? You will start to think about pin elephants! When you link going home to a certain time during the day, your mind will do the same. It can’t stop thinking about the event.

The sad thing is that even if you program your mind, you might still not go home. There could even be more powerful programs that are active in your mind and will actually stop you from achieving your goal.

In the 3×3 on getting home on time you will get these clear and you will be able to resolve that ‘bad’ or ‘unproductive’ programming.

Let’s have a look!


3×3 on Getting Home On Time

I love using simple steps. This is what you will see in all 3×3 solutions. This is not any different in this solution. Let’s have a look at the 3 steps.

The solution to this very difficult situation for many people is actually really simple. You have a program running in your mind that stops you from getting home on time. When you remove that program, when you make it less powerful or give it less value in your brain, or when you implement more powerful routines in your mind, you will be able to break through your way of working and achieve what you want.

What you need to do is answer the following 3 questions. Be brutally honest! Don’t feel ashamed.You are probably the only person who will ever see the answers to these questions. If you are really brave, you might want to discuss them with a good friend to learn more about yourself.

Here’s the first question. Remember, be honest!


What stops you from getting home on time?

Yes, there are perfectly good reasons why you are not getting home on time. That is, they are really good reasons for you. Another person may look at them and tell you that you are weak, stupid, seeing things, or whatever. The fact remains, they are really powerful blockages for you and you need to identify them in order to remove them.

So write down the top 3 of things stopping you from getting home on time. If you have more than 3, remember to write down the 3 most powerful ones. If you can’t think of 3… you are either really good already, you just have one of two problems, or you are just not honest with yourself.

(in fact… if you need a friend who wants to help you break these programs in your life, let me know and we will have a look at them together!).

Write down your top 3 reasons for you not getting home on time.

Why do you want to go home on time?

An important question, right? You can have all the motivation on finishing up your day and going home on time… But the moment you have nothing to go home to, your plan will probably fail!

List the 3 biggest reasons you want to go home!

(remember, be honest with yourself. I can’t stress this enough!


What 3 things will you change RIGHT NOW to get home on time?

Final question already. Time does fly (when you want to go home on time and you are enjoying yourself, right?).

There are 3 major things you can do right now. You know exactly what you can do. This can be a planning change, moving a meeting to a more decent time, having an early lunch, or anything else. You are in control. You call the shots. You make sure you go home on time.


Right, there you have it.

You now know what stops you from going home on time, you know why you want to go home, and you know what you should do or focus on and become in order to achieve your goal.

The only thing you should do right now is make it really formal. I suggest you create a mind map with the answers to the questions above. Why a mind map and not a piece of paper? The map is something that you can review easily, it is visually attractive, and it puts the information in a good perspective. It helps you to see all at one glance.

Use this map from now on on a daily basis. It is what guides you through the day. It helps you to get the job done. This map is the reason you will be home on time after work.

When you see many items come back on your daily and weekly mind map, make sure you create a map that is the basis of your week/month or year. It shows you exactly what the most important things are in your work and what helps you to be home on time from now on.

Let me know what stops you from getting home on time. I will be here to provide you with more solutions. I really look forward to learning more about your situation and how I can assist you even more.

Good luck with this exercise!


Why Your Brain Loves Visual Mapping

Did you know that the part of the brain which processes visual information is much larger than the auditive area? We are creatures who rely a lot on visual input. This should make you think about the way you process information right now most of the time.

Many people love to read information they get. It makes it easier to remember. Also, many people love to watch TV and videos. Why? Because we have a visual brain!

One of the things that is important is that we understand images really fast, while we have to learn words… In fact, your brain is more than 30 times better in remembering images than it is in remembering words.

Are you still going to rely on words in your notes that much? Using images makes it many times easier for your brain to remember the information.

Many people don’t see the big picture in information. They hea bits and pieces, but don’t really see the underlying story. This is really bad of course. Not seeing the whole makes it very difficult to remember information. You have to remember each bit of information as a separate chunk of data. When you see what the relationship between pieces are, you can remember the whole and figure out the details

This is probably why I graduated. No, not because of mind mapping. I didn’t know a thing about mind mapping back then. Kind of sad that I learned all that after I graduated and was working for a couple of years.

No, I think the biggest reason I was able to graduate is because I learned to see the underlying systems, concepts and ideas. Once I knew that, I was able to figure out all the other pieces much faster. I could almost take the system or the outline of my studies, and place the right pieces of information at the right location in that outline.

It is almost like decorating a Christmas tree. You take the tree, add the lights, and then add balls and figures into the tree. No problem since you already have the tree and you simply have to attach everything else on the branches.

The same happens with mind mapping, or visual mapping in general.

You outline your topic and you add thoughts, ideas, figures, other concepts, details, and other information to it. I would almost say, you can’t go wrong this way. The map is created and you have your overview.

Just like with a Christmas tree, you might need to re-locate some of the ornaments. But that is no problem. It is almost like the tree itself is showing you the location to put them.

Your brain loves structure. In fact, if your brain doesn’t see any structure or logic, it will create it for you. That is why many people have really disturbed, strange or sometimes just plain wrong ideas they take as the truth. At one point in their lives, that made sense and they now stick to it.

I believe it is up to you to test your ideas and convictions every now and then. You might do this especially the moment you really need them. For instance when you are making a really big decision in your life. Are you making it based on facts or is there a large piece of mental trickery involved. I mean, do you say that something is a fact but in fact it is just something you believe? Better make sure you know what you are doing then!

So there you have it…

You know that your brain loves images and pictures over words. You know that you simply have to get structure in your life, even if you are a really free thinker or spirit.

Add these together for me please…

Take the more creative side of the images and drawing things, and add that to the logical structure side. The result is something your brain is just loving! It has to love that because it is using the two things your brain uses as a foundation to look at the world!

Of course you already knew that this is also the way mind maps work.

But do this please for me.

Next time you create a mind map, create the basic structure first. Don’t dive into the details immediately. Build a mind map layer by layer. First you create the first layer, than you add the second one, than the third, etc.

This may be strange when you compare it to the way you did this before. Don’t worry. Working like this has a really big advantage, not just in using a process, but also in enhancing your creativity.

When you work this way, you give your brain a chance to outline everything really well. Compare it to outlining a book or document (or presentation, thesis, meeting agenda, etc.). You start in the first level with your chapters, then in level two you are sections, and so on.

Your brain has time to adapt to the outline. It can see where new things need to be added. Not like before when you just tried to cram everything in the first chapter because it all seemed important.

Now you take your time to build up the information stream and introduce what is important when it is needed.

When you see things which are not in place, you re-locate them.

And this way, you work your way through the levels of your map.

Now you might be wondering about the creative part.

The moment you simply add all kinds of information to a branch and you first build branch one, then the second branch, and so on, you are only involved in the information in those branches.

But what happens now is that you see the big picture completely. You see where you are taking the reader or listener. You see the entire map/outline.

Now when you get into sub branches, you can take that topic and combine it with things in previous branches. Let me explain.

In the first branch, you probably outline and define a number of concepts, ideas, key topics.

Then in the upcoming branches, you introduce new information, and you can combine it immediately with the information from previous branches. In branch four, you take details you talk about there, and you combine it with branch 1 topics, branch 2 examples, branch 3 usages, etc. This creates new combinations. It helps you to give fresh perspectives to existing ideas.

Please note this when you work with images and structure.

You might want to outline your map as fast as possible. This is easier when you don’t use images when you do this initial outlining. I know, sounds counter productive for the map… It is actually very productive for you to get your thoughts out as fast as possible. No more hanging around a single image or drawing for minutes. Now you simply outline first, and draw later.

When you have your information outlined, then you add images. Often, you will see that in order to make the map better, you probably don’t need to add that many images at all. Does this make your map a bad mind map? Strictly speaking it might… But is that important if the map is something that is offering you and/or your audience tremendous value? I guess not!!!

So there you have it.

Your brain loves visual mapping.

I guess it is time you start using it more as well then so your brain is happier. Because you know it… when your brain is happy, you become happy!

Enjoy, let me know if you have questions. I look forward to hearing from you!

Where Is The Focus In Your Mind Map?

Simple question, right? Where do YOU put the focus in your mind map? It seems that this question is easier asked than answered. Let’s explore this in more detail so you can create mind maps that help you achieve your goal.

Focus And Attention

The moment you put your attention on something and you keep it there, it means you are focusing. What usually happens when you do this correctly is that you see less of the world around you and you are able to concentrate more on the topic of your interest.

This is important if you want to stay in a state where you can learn faster, be more productive, convince people, etc.

Imagine you have a normal mind map wherein you placed many, many images and colours in it. You show this during your sales presentation to that important client. What would his initial reaction be? Probably he will be overwhelmed by the overload of information coming towards him. Sure, you get his attention but oftentimes the result would be that he would lose focus on the most important things and eventually you lose him altogether. Whether you go on giving your sales pitch it wouldn’t matter anymore because you already lost your client’s attention right from the very start. And it is extremely difficult to get his attention back.

Now you have a map with two branches, with one image, and 2 sub levels in each branch. Your offer is written bigger and in blue, the details are smaller and written in a grey colour. You show this to your client. What is hi response you think? He will absolutely understand what you are talking about! You can talk with him about the offer, make it more fitting, and close the deal. You get his attention by helping him focus on the important stuff.

Now what can you do with your own mind maps? Here are a couple of suggestions you can use to update your map, or improve your map to help you get more attention and focus.


Images vs Words

Usually the mind mapping books tell you to use many images. The centre of the map should be a big image with a lot of colours. Do you think this is important for your maps as well?

I believe images are nice, but only if you use them when they are really needed. No need to use them on every single branch in your map. They take a lot of time to find, add, draw, and they take away the attention on the important stuff.

Words are a lot easier to add and to use. Start with that and then see if images are needed.

TIP: Don’t use (too many) images when you can use words and get the same results


Abstract vs Detail

Often the centre of the map is much more abstract than the detailed outside of the map. Where do you want to put most of the focus for the user of the map? On the abstract information or on the details.

I am sure this totally depends on the goal of the map. Still, when you are using a map for studying, I think you better understand the outline of your topic first (more abstract), and then change the map to show you many more details. The general outline becomes less interesting once you know this.

You see, this way the map changes when your knowledge and understanding change. Understand this and apply it to make the map more powerful.

TIP: When details are more important, show that in your map. No need to give the abstract information too much space if it is not really important


BIG vs small

Ever wondered why text near the centre of the map should be written in larger letters and the text towards the outside of the map? In the beginning this could/might be important, but after a few minutes it loses its value.

Sure, you could say that when you write large characters near the outside, there is less room for the content. I agree… but is it necessary to use the same size on each branch level?

I completely disagree with that!

No need to have the same size font on the second level, and the same smaller size font on the fourth level. That just doesn’t make sense!

What you should do is make the important things which require your attention a lot bigger than the rest. This is what your brain does as well.

Take for example the outline of your home in a mind map and your mind.

In your mind map the rooms have the same size font. Than the items in the room have the same size. Then, for instance, the usage of those items have smaller sizes.

In your mind this absolutely doesn’t work that way. Your own room, office, study room is perceived a lot larger than the attic, shed, kitchen or any other place in your home. And your most important items are probably more important than your room. Or what you do with them is represented by really large feelings, thoughts and emotions in your mind.

So why don’t you use this in your mind maps?

Why don’t you just use a larger font if you feel things are important. And the other way around, why don’t you use smaller fonts for the stuff that isn’t important? I can’t imagine all the things in the second layer of your map are equally important. So why present them that way?

TIP: Change the font size of the important and unimportant parts of your map


Crowded vs Empty

Many people create maps which are really crowded. They add and add and add information just as long as they have an overview that is almost one large bubble of words and images.

What do you think makes more of an impression and captures the attention? A word in a bubble of words…or a word in a bubble that is surrounded by white space?

Of course the second word is seen many times more than the first word. Don’t create maps with too much information or too many words/images. You are doing yourself and your reader of the map a favor when you create minimalist maps that show exactly what is needed in a simple manner. This is a topic by itself so for now just understand that you need to make use of the white space surrounding information.

TIP: Less is more, especially if you are trying to get the attention of people.


Colors vs Grey

No need to use colours in your map when they are not really useful. Sure, you can create a map that is like a carnival to your visual senses. But what good does that do to you or your reader? Remember, you are not in the business of creating mind maps that look pretty. You are here to use maps to help you achieve your business, personal or academic goals. The map is only a tool.

I would use colours when I could choose between images and colours. A colour is added in seconds. An image is often taking a whole lot more time (try finding the exact image first…).

When you create a map with only grey text, and a few yellow and red highlighted words, you know what draws the attention, right?

TIP: Use colours to help you get the message across. Use it when you can really make a difference. Don’t overuse it.


Personal vs Shared

A map can be something you create for yourself, or for other people. When you create the map for yourself you know what is important.

Looking at presentations or meetings where you use a mind map, you need to know what your audience really needs to know. When you do, you can guide them towards the end situation you have in mind by putting their focus on the items that are important.

This isn’t cheating, it is making use of the way minds work. People like to be shown what to believe. It takes way too much energy to figure everything out yourself. So if you can come along and help a person by using your map to make a good decision, why don’t you spend a little more time and create the perfect map for that!

TIP: Understand the outcome you try to achieve and update the map accordingly


Clear Story vs Information

Often people just create a mind map and add information in various branches. The end result is a map that isn’t logical, but it has all the information you need.

What do you think would happen if you created a map that doesn’t just give information. What would happen if you created a story of the information. You know… an actual story that has an introduction, gives the important pieces of information, relates them, shows solutions and closes with a real glimpse of what could happen next?

That story would be amazing, right?

For all the sales people, teachers, trainers, business leaders, manager and all the other people who need to show something to other people that isn’t there yet… USE THIS!

TIP: People love stories. Don’t just throw information in a map and think you are done. Make a real effort into making the information turn into knowledge and understanding!


To Make Sure You Get This…

So there you have it. Many factors determine the focus of your mind map. It is up to you to determine what you need to do. Unfortunately there is not a one-approach-fits-all solution.

What I can tell you is that you really need to think about this. The wrong focus in a wonderful mind map makes the map a whole lot less powerful. So you could have literally wasted hours on a nice looking map that is not helping you achieve your goal.

I always find it very strange that people create maps that are not balanced in their content. No, I don’t mean that the map should look pretty. I want a map to help me achieve a certain goal. If the map isn’t doing that, I don’t need the map or I have to work on it a little more.

For all you people who really want to have some important pointers to improve the focus in their map, here you go:

  1. Tell a really clear story: branches need to tell the story from A to Z in a good order. Don’t just put stuff in the map at random and hope the map works for you or your audience
  2. Make the important stuff BIGGER. Don’t worry if this is near the outside of the map where, according to theory the words should be written smaller. You are not creating a map to map a nice theoretical overview. You need to achieve results!
  3. Remove access images and colours. Only add them if they add value. If they don’t simply don’t add them.

So there you go. 3 simple things you can do to help you add more focus to your map.

Enjoy the ideas and let me know what you did with them!