By Nadeesha Paulis
Does one glimpse of your course load make you re-think why you ever even wanted to do this particular subject? Do you find it difficult to cram all that knowledge in? Are you complaining that there is just too much and how unfair of the course directors to expect so much from you? Have you ever studied a subject or brainstormed an idea, only to find yourself with pages of information, but no clear view of how it fitted together?
Don’t worry. Most of us who study, do actually find it difficult to remember everything. Yes it is difficult, but not impossible. With a bit of ‘mind tools’ it can be easy as 1, 2, 3.
The trick is to know your brain. Help your brain understand its way around and you’re well off!
From one main idea, our brains tend to branch off to the other. Those are linked to still more ideas. Sort of like a tree or a map. That’s where mind mapping is helpful. Simply said, when learning something new and seemingly complicated, use a map! Literally.
One way to do that, is to create a link to something you already know, and branching out and connecting onwards from that single, main point.
Why mind maps?
It’s all about organizing. Organizing the data you know, into meaningful and well inter connected information that will help make sense of it all. You can quickly identify and understand the structure of a subject. You can see the way that pieces of information fit together. More than this, Mind Maps help you remember information, as they hold it in a format that your mind finds easy to recall and quick to review.
More importantly, Mind Mapping helps you break large topics into manageable chunks, so that you can plan effectively without getting overwhelmed and without forgetting something important.
A good mind map shows the ‘dimensions’ of the subject, the relative importance of individual points, and the way facts relate to one another.
How is it done?
There is one basic template that everyone uses, but you are welcome to edit and upgrade it in any way you think suits you best. (Use various colors too and make it your own personalized study/art work)
1. Write the title of the subject you're exploring in the centre of the page, and draw a circle around it. (fig. 1)
2. As you come across major subdivisions or subheadings of the topic (or important facts that relate to the subject) draw lines out from this circle. (fig. 2)
3. As you ‘burrow’ into the subject and uncover another level of information (further subheadings, or individual facts) belonging to the subheadings above, draw these as lines linked to the subheading lines.
4. Then, for individual facts or ideas, draw lines out from the appropriate heading line and label them.
5. As you come across new information, link it in to the Mind Map appropriately.
- Many words in normal writing are padding, as they ensure that facts are conveyed in the correct context, and in a format that is pleasant to read. In Mind Maps, single strong words and short, meaningful phrases can convey the same meaning more potently. Excess words just clutter the mind map.
- Use colour to separate different ideas.
- Use cross-linkages to relate one part with another.