How To: Mind Mapping Your Noise Into Overview

how to mind mappingMany people talk about how to mind mapping your information is something that can be done easily. In fact, most mind map trainers will tell you that mind mapping is the best invention since sliced bread. Is it really that good? In this article, I will give you not just my opinion, but you will also learn how valuable mind mapping is for you and how mind mapping helps you to overcome noise and stress in your life. PLUS, I will show you how I continue to have complete overview in my work and still use mind mapping less than 5 minutes per week (on average!).

How To Mind Mapping… And How It All Began

Way before Tony Buzan (the inventor of mind mapping) was born, people were already organizing their information in a non linear format. It was before we used any formal writing that our ancestors already created pictures with lots of information. Then we started to use words and we decided to write from the top of the page to the bottom using lines of words.

Now you know all that of course. What most people forget however (or not think about consciously) is that we all start out drawing pictures. We don’t start in life and write words. First we use pictures and colors. Our brain is doing this by nature and we simply follow our brain in this. Then we go to school and we focus more on words and sentences.

It is very important that you understand that your brain doesn’t like to use words only. Take a normal book for studying. Do you like to go through everything in that book? You might only like it when there is a clear benefit or pleasure connected to doing that. You might become smarter and graduate, or you learn something that gives you more time or money. Then going through a 400 page book isn’t that bad.

But still, you need to transform the information in the book into something your mind understands.

Now what if I could give you 5 mind maps that show you the entire message of the book, without all the fluff around it and only the real content… Would that be interesting?

I am sure it would!

You would like to use the mind map to have a good overview. And if you have that, you can always go back into the book to understand some things you didn’t fully comprehend when reading the mind map.

A book for studying, conversations with people, Project deadlines and goals, your fresh ideas on a topic… just to name a couple of things. They are all creating more and more noise in your life. And you know what happens when you have too much noise, right? It will help you to become stressed. The more noise, the greater the chance of becoming stressed. Is it possible that a mind map can help you with that?

What Is A Mind Map

To get an answer on the question if a mind map can help you, we first have to take a look at what a mind map is. A mind map is nothing more than an overview which is showing you information in a brain friendly manner. This information can be summarized using images, words, colors, etc. Any type of information is possible.

A mind map uses keywords, images and colors to activate your associative brain, thus helping you remember more information faster. In fact, looking at a mind map is like looking at a treasure map. Each piece of information is added at a specific location and used a distinct color to create the biggest emotional impact in your brain. And it is exactly this emotional impact which helps you to remember information faster and easier.

In short, a mind map is a visual representation of information. For me personally, a mind map is a different way of looking at the same information. This different way of looking at it helps me to find new angles, improves my long term memory and makes it on the whole easier and nicer to study new topics and expand my current knowledge.

What I feel is very important when looking at mind mapping is the following: How to use mind mapping to make it as powerful and easy to use as possible. You don’t want to learn a new technique and try it out for a while and forget about it then. I see so many disillusioned people in my training courses who tell me that mind mapping is good, but it doesn’t work for them…!

And that could be true! It doesn’t work for everybody or in every situation better than all the other solutions. It does however work when you are looking for specific applications or goals. So what if you could use it on a small scale and see what it does for you. This way you can test if it works for you and you can learn to master the technique as well. If it still doesn’t work… you lost hardly any time and energy because of it.

Most Mind Mapping Instructors Fail To Tell You This

Do you want to mind map everything all the time? Probably not. You just want to mind map once and use the map from them on.

You wouldn’t believe how many so called mind mapping trainers tell people to mind map everything. That you have to mind map your agenda, projects,notes, presentations, etc. But that isn’t true!

  • My agenda is done in Outlook. No need to do it in a mind map as well (that’s twice the work)
  • My presentations are done in what the audience needs (often a mindmap, but definitely not by default a mind map)
  • My notes are done in plain text, just because I want to deal with it fast.
  • My projects are often done in mind maps when I am outlining everything, after that, I don’t worry about the format anymore.

To me, mind maps are tools, nothing more, nothing less. They are a powerful tools, but absolutely not the best solution for most problems/situations.

You should not spend too much time on making a mind map pretty and colorful. What is done is done. When a map is good enough, you should move on. Perfect mind maps don’t exist. If you captured the message of the book, report or meeting, you are done. Any time spend on the mind map from then on is often just a waste of time. You are probably better of using the map.

The third thing you need to be careful about is the usage of a mind map. You should not create a map for your daily planning… every day. Create one for the next week, next month or the length of the entire project. Or you might consider creating a mind map of your courses in school, which show you the entire course in a single map. Use mind maps, don’t just create mind maps.

Many people can benefit immensely when they start to use their maps. Be sure you do this as well.

How To Mind Mapping: Reducing Noise

Ever had the thought you almost lost it because of the endless list of things you had to do… but you were not able to pick the one you needed to work on… and you felt like you were going mad?

Congratulations! You experienced a good amount of stress!

Of course I experience stress in my life. But it is hardly the same as it was when I was still studying. Why? Because I have a good grip on my information, surrounding and ideas that pop into my mind.

The way I do this is simple. It might not be easy in the beginning, but it is something that will help you to greatly reduce your stress and improve your well-being and bottom line results (no outcome guaranteed of course, depends all about how much you put into this :))

Here is my simple tactic to capture noise

I take a piece of paper and write down everything I feel is important, needed or useful.For instance I write down what I have to do, what other people want me to do, what the ideas are which are in my head, etc.

Then I organize this information into a proper basic mind map. That’s right, a basic mind map. I am not working towards a perfect map with lots of images. I simply want to take the noise and (literally) give it a place in my mind and on paper.

All the related pieces of information are placed near each other. I create groups of ideas, problems, projects, information.

The final thing is now that I select one of the topics in the map and I work on that as much as possible. Of course this is the item which has the biggest impact on my current and future situation. The moment I get distracted, I make sure I watch the map and I continue to work on them again.

How To: Mind Mapping Your Situation Creates Overview

The moment you have your overview in a nice visual map in front of you, you can take a step back to understand what bothers you most and what has the biggest influence in your tasks, people, ideas and goals. You literally took it out of your head, organized it and looked at it from a distance. Things tend to be less personal when you look at a map like this.

So there you have it, you go from noise to overview using this simple tactic. Here’s another tactic you can use for free.

The simple tactic is something you can use for noise reducing in your own professional  /business life, but also in education. It helps you to improve your thinking because you have less noise to deal with.

When looking at the level of mind mapping skills you need for this… you will love this as well. Mind mapping for beginners is often really difficult. You have to change your way of thinking, and adapt to new things at the same time. This is a heavy burden on your thought and thinking processes and energy. Using this simple technique, you don’t have to mind map a lot, but you simple do this exercise once every now and then. You will be creating a basic mind map, yet you won’t lose precious time working on your maps.

Also for seasoned mind mappers this is something they can use. You can still reduce stress and gain overview by simply doing this. The secret is… you do have to take action and take a minute to use the tactic. When you do that, you will benefit from it… guaranteed!

Right now I am interested in what you will do with this information. Don’t assume or ‘know’ that you master this already. Even if so… be sure you internalize the ideas. Doing that will bring you so much further!

How will this article on “how to mind mapping your noise into overview” help you?

4 comments on “How To: Mind Mapping Your Noise Into Overview
  1. Thom says:

    Hi Arjen,
    This little process you described is actually working! I was really skeptic about using it…

    But it really worked!!! I was managing a project and was overwhelmed because of all the people, tasks and meetings. I sat down and outlined the project using a simple mind map, and now I have a good overview of the important things (PLUS the details!).

    It took me less than 2 minutes to create the map and it helps me a lot.

    I have a question: should I create the mind map on my computer or keep it on paper? What do you recommend?

    • Arjen says:

      Hi Thom,

      Thanks for letting me know about your results. Regarding your question… 2 ways to handle this.

      When you have to change your map many times and you have to share it with others, it is better to have a digital mindmap. I normally use MindMapper software for this (have a look at the software here on my other website).

      When it is just a map that you need to manage and keep overview, you can also do this on paper. My business and planning for it are all stored in a single mindmap. Nothing fancy, just the complete overview of what I did, where I am and what I will be doing these next 3 months. This map is only updated by outlining what is accomplished and add new goals and tasks. It is for my own reference only.

      Let me know if you have any other questions!

      Enjoy mind mapping!

  2. Linda says:

    How will this mindmap help me reduce the noise from my co-workers? Just creating the mind map won’t help me… how to use this at work?

    • Arjen says:

      Hi Linda,

      There are a couple of things you can do. First of all, you can create a map of your co-worker’s noise. Identify what it exactly is what bothers you and what you perceive as noise. Then, next to the problems, you write 3 new branches. On these, you list ideas or solutions that help you to reduce or remove the noise. Then, you start to use the mind map to train yourself and your co-workers to become the colleagues you need them to be in order to work faster and better.

      Second, you create a big map that you share with your colleagues. You tell them they can write all their questions and other things they want to share with you on that map. Every X hours, you have a look at the map and you will take time to assist them if needed.

      This way the mind map becomes a buffer between you and the request and noise from co-workers. It helps you to focus on your work more and helps your co-workers to get the answers they need, on time.

      Hope this helps!