Practical Creative Thinking Using A Mind Map

Creativity for me is being able to look at something from different angles. The number of viewpoints is an indication of how creative I can be. 

When you have a problem, you need answers. How many solutions can you come up with that solve the problem?

How skilled you are is sometimes a blessing in these situations. 

Practical Creative Thinking Using A Mind Map

You know solutions already that others don't see. But this is stopping you from looking at situations differently as well. You get stuck in the same pattern of thinking. 

I good solution may not be the best solution possible. It's like this. To a man with only a hammer, every problem is a nail. Just give it a big hit on the head to solve it!

It is up to us to find creative solutions to solve problems. Let's have a look at 5 different ways you can be creative in your thinking. Let's find solutions!


5 ways to stimulate creative thinking

When I started thinking about creativity and finding solutions, I started out with a list. I wrote the numbers one through five on a sheet of paper. Why five? I like this number. It stretches my mind yet it isn't too many.  

I could have gone for 99 ways to be more creative. That would have generated some strange and really creative solutions. But hey... how practical would it have been for you to do something like this... Jump out of a plane to change your perspective to get new ideas... How many people would be able to do that?

So here are 5 ways you can use yourself, right now, to boost your creativity.


Creative method 1: create a mind map

Well... You are on a website that talks about studying and mind mapping. Would you really think there was gonna be a solution that would not involve visual thinking? 🙂

Of course we start with our good-old mind map. Having every piece of information on a single sheet stimulates creativity.

I would suggest you start by using a large sheet of paper. You can use an A3 sheet. Or grab a flip over sheet. 

Summarize your idea, problem, or situation in the middle of the sheet. Don't worry about following all the rules exactly. You can write short sentences if you like. We are not creating a formal mind map. 

Around the center, you add branches with topics like: 

  • WHAT is the problem
  • HOW did it happen
  • WHAT would be a desired outcome
  • HOW can I achieve this outcome

By simply adding information all over the map (literally), you stimulate your brain. You can add information to the problem branch first. Then you move to the  desired outcome. Add information to the cause branch. Jump from branch to branch. Let your mind generate thoughts. You simply record them. 

When you feel you are not finding any other solutions you can do this:

- Add empty branches to each map. Like I did when I told my brain I needed 5 solutions for creative thinking. The power of using empty branches is that your brain wants to fill in the information.

- Imagine you are talking with a (famous) person. Stepping into their thinking is very powerful. How would they solve this? What would their contribution be? This is like the mastermind thinking Napoleon Hill writes about. Create if needed an imaginary counsel of wise people who assist you in finding solutions.

Add people like Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Madame Curie, Picasso, Da Vinci, Einstein. Let them be your counsel in finding solutions. 


Creative method 2: Create a digital map together

In the previous solution we talked about your imaginary counsel of wise people. In this method we take this one step further.

Create a digital mind map. Add the problem and the branches about the problem and the outcome you like. Then... add some empty branches for people to add information. Your basic map is done.

Next you invite co-workers or friends to add to your map. 

You share the map and allow people to add information to your map. They can write whatever they want.. You can do this in one session with all people mind mapping at the same time. 

You can also give access to the map for a few days. Participants can share their thoughts at the time they want to.

I've been in many of these sessions where people add information to a mind map in real time. It is amazing to see how you get stimulated by looking at the input of others. You get new ideas, add them to the map, and stimulate others at the same time. 

I feel the best way to do this is meet at the same time with others. Doing this at your own time and pace is good... but a meeting is often better.

Using a mind mapping software tool like MindMapper (for PC) helps a lot. You can create maps together without having a license for every participant. Only one person needs a registered license. The others simply contribute. 


Creative method 3: moving information around

Are you alone when looking for creative and new ways of looking at something? Create a mind map like you did before in method 1. 

Next, you move branches to a new location:

mindmap outline 1
mind map outline 2

In your mind, this creates change. Change creates new perspectives. The result is that you find new ways to look at the situation. 

You can do this by moving the main branches, but also sub branches. 

Remember this: The space between branches is giving you room for new ideas. Often these ideas are stimulated by the surrounding pieces of information. Our brains want to fill in blanks. The situation itself is the catalyst for the solution. 

By changing the situation, you change your own perspective and ideas.


Creative method 4: starting with a new center

This one looks a little like the one we discussed before. 

This time you don't switch two branches. You start out with a new map. Here's how:

  1. Create your map with solutions.
  2. Identify the four to seven most important topics in your map
  3. Make one of these important topics the center of your new mind map. The rest become the main branches of your map.

By creating a new mind map this way, you completely change your perspective. The most important ideas you picked are probably from the outside of your old map. This way details become main topics. Again, you change perspective. 

Do this as many times as you like! 

I am sure you will find new solutions and different perspectives. 


Creative method 5: use free-floating main topics

In method 3 I talked briefly about using the empty or white space between branches. This time you will make even better use of that!

Again, you take your four to seven most important ideas or keywords. 

You don't create a map from them. 

You create four to seven maps! You add them all to your one sheet or screen.

This means you have a number of free-floating topics. 

Look at them as concepts or ideas that can interact with each other. Move them around to find a meaningful setup. Each setup will give you a different perspective to the situation. It will help you identify other solutions or ideas. 

free floating mind map topics

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Mind maps and your creative thinking process

Mind maps are all about outlining information. Different outlines allow your brain to think creatively. That is what creativity is all about. Finding new ways of looking at situations and problems. 

Become free in outlining of information. This helps you to stimulate creative thinking.