Out of chaos comes order

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Out of chaos comes order

Mind mapping is one of my secret weapons.

Mind mapping is one of my secret weapons for deciding what goes where. There are plenty of details that go into developing an article, a website, or a publication. Mind mapping, whether using software or pen and paper or whiteboard, lets you (or a group) create the sections and subsections that the topic can be divided into. Here are some reasons why I like mind mapping:

1) Drawing taps into the nonlinear nature of how we think. You can jump around your mind map, adding, deleting and reorganizing subsections and overarching sections as much as you want. Unlike a sequential list on paper or word processor, a mind map doesn’t require that it be created in a certain order. You have the freedom you need to let your creativity blossom.

2) When the first draft is done, you can see where you have too many sections and subsections — or not enough. By seeing how many categories of things you have listed, you can focus on how to consolidate or eliminate what’s not needed. You can also see connections and aspects that you missed earlier more clearly.

3) You can create temporary holding places for ideas so they are not lost. No one says you can’t create a silly category like “Idon’tknowwherethisgoes”? Get the ideas down and worry about what goes where later.

4) You can use different colors for different categories or levels. If you use a white board or flip chart, break out your multicolored markers or post-it notes to further visually organize your categories. Mind mapping software makes it even easier: you can change the color, if necessary, as well as move the ideas around.

5) I can use a different method — paper/whiteboard/software — with different participants. I’ll share my mind mapping screen with tech-savvy groups or in virtual meetings. If I’m standing in front of a group using paper or whiteboard, I choose markers. If it’s a smaller team effort, everyone can stand in front of the wall/board where the mind map is taking shape. Using post-it notes makes it easy to move things around. (If everyone has a different color, you can also see who is contributing the most ideas and then focus on getting the others to balance the map out with their ideas.)

5) With mind mapping, as with brainstorming, there are no bad ideas. Put everything down on the map. It can always be removed later.

6) You can share the map to get feedback. Take a picture of the map and then, if you want to fine tune it or present it more professionally, recreate it on a PowerPoint slide or in mind mapping software. Then you can send the map and let others have time to think about and revise the map.

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