Mind Mapping to Improve Your Work Life

At a time when our economy is calling more and more for innovation and change, I was happy to come across this review of Chuck Frey’s new book, “Up Your Impact: 52 Innovative Strategies to add value to your work” by Biggerplate.  This book is centered on the idea of “adding value to your work,” something that is crucial these days with the abundance of layoffs and replacements in the workplace.

Biggerplate discusses how individuals now need to make themselves valuable and unique in regard to their work.  “It is no longer enough to turn up and clock-in. We have to identify better ways to contribute to the overall organisation, and better ways to make ourselves indispensable within it.”  Fortunately, Chuck Frey paints a rather bright picture in his approach by offering 52 practical and effective strategies and tips to overcoming the struggles people tackle in becoming indispensable in the workplace.

This is just another example of the many ways that mind mapping is used to improve lives and businesses.  The Mind Mapping Software Blog (Chuck Frey’s site) as well as Biggerplate are two very influential resources in the mind mapping community, providing a wealth of information about mind mapping and examples of mind maps, product reviews and articles.  If you are not yet well versed in the use of mind mapping and the abundant benefits and uses, we highly recommend you check out these sites.”

MindMaple Mind Mapping Contest! One Week Left!

Hello everyone.  We wanted to remind you all that our contest ends on June 27, so don’t miss out!  Please send your most creative maps to office@mindmaple.com.  Remember to design your map in either MindMaple Lite or MindMaple Pro.  The winner will receive a $250 gift card to Amazon.com.

For those of you that are not familiar with mind mapping and how to get started, I assure you it’s not a daunting task. Mind Tools has a helpful article, “Mind Maps, A Powerful Approach to Note-Taking,” that discusses mind mapping and its many benefits.  “Mind Mapping is a useful technique that helps you learn more effectively, improves the way that you record information, and supports and enhances creative problem solving.”

Further, Mind Tools explain that “by using Mind Maps, you can quickly identify and understand the structure of a subject.  You can see the way that pieces of information fit together, as well as recording the raw facts contained in normal notes. To learn more about mind mapping, its uses, and how to begin to create your maps, check out this article.  There is even a video for more clarification.  Good luck!

Design Options in MindMaple – Episode 1

MindMaple offers users many ways to customize their mind maps. In this post, we’ll make a map that illustrates how you can customize the colors and design of your maps.

There are various preset color themes you can use for mind maps in MindMaple Pro (a limited number of themes is available in MindMaple Lite). These can be accessed by selecting “Format” on the top ribbon, and selecting “Theme Color.” This will initiate a drop-down menu from which you can select a number of colors, and create your own color theme if you wish.

What if you want to make a map that will be visually unique? Let’s imagine you want to make a mind map about the colors of the rainbow. It’s hard to imagine a situation in which you’d need to make a map like this, but it provides a good illustration of how to customize your maps.

Here’s how your map will look starting out:

Let’s liven up this map! Right-click the main topic, and select “Format Topic” (or hit the shortcut Ctrl + 1). From this menu, you can customize a number of features about your topic. For our main topic, let’s select the “rainbow” from the “Preset colors” drop-down menu.

Rainbow is a “Gradient fill,” but you can also use solid colors to customize your topics, as well as images or textures. For a gradient fill, you can choose from a number of gradient layouts, including linear, rectangular, and radial. Radial creates a curved effect that matches well with the rainbow pattern, so let’s choose that.

Our main topic still has an orange border, which looks strange juxtaposed with the rainbow. Let’s change it to a thin black border. Select the topic, and enter the “Format Topic” menu (by right-clicking or hitting Ctrl + 1). Select “Line Color” from the menu on the left, and select “Solid line” choosing black as the color.

While still in the “Format Topic” menu, select “Line Style” from the left menu, and decrease the Width by 1 point. Our map will now look like this:

Now let’s get started on the individual topics. Select the “Red” Topic and enter the “Format Topic” menu. Select “Solid fill” and choose a red color. Then select “Line Color” from the left menu, choosing “Solid line” and a darker red color for the line.

Let’s get a little bit more detailed and give the red topic a gradient fill. In the “Format Topic” menu, select “Fill” from the left menu, then select “Gradient fill.” Underneath “Gradient stops,” you should see a drop down arrow next to the words “Stop 1.” Clicking the arrow shows there are currently 4 stops (you can add or remove stops). For each stop, you can choose a different color to add to the gradient. By adjusting the “Stop position” bar for the each stop, you can control where each color will fade into the next color. Try experimenting with the various settings to see what you prefer.

Let’s increase the text size to make it more visible, and change the font color to white over the darker backgrounds. To do this, highlight the text you wish to change and click the “Style” tab on the top ribbon. Then change the text font, color, size, and other options.

Now let’s change the branch shape to let us show off more colors! Select the central topic, and click the “Style” tab from the top ribbon. Clicking the arrow next to “Branch Shape” will show a drop-down menu from which you can select a number of branch styles. Let’s select “Tapered Curve.”

To change the color of an individual branch, select the topic attached to the branch and click the “Style” tab. Click the small arrow at the bottom right of the “Branch Style” box on the ribbon to open the “Format Branch” menu. From here you can customize the branch shape, color, and style.

For one final touch, let’s change the shape of the topics. Select all topics (Ctrl + A is a handy shortcut), select the “Style” from the top ribbon, and select “Topic Shape” from the “Topic Style” box. A drop-down menu will appear, from which you can choose a number of options. Let’s select “Oval.”

Our finished map!

Use Your Whole Brain with Mind Mapping

The human brain is split into two hemispheres, the right and left sides of the brain.  Each side represents different ways of thinking and processing.  The right side is logical, linear, sequential, objective, and analytical.  The left side is intuitive, creative, holistic, fantasy oriented, and visual.  Although people tend to lean to one side or the other in how they think, as children, we are much more right brained in our thinking; therefore, our environment and how we are raised has a strong influence on whether we end up as a more right or left brained thinker.

Since this is the case, we must then be able to put effort and practice toward utilizing both sides of our brains for optimal functioning.  Using both sides of the brain helps individuals to grow to their potential both personally and professional.  An example of this is in the article, “Left-Brained vs. Right-Brained – The Developer/Designer Paradox” by My Ink Blog.  The author describes the differences between how designers and developers think.

Developers are more left brained while designers possess more right brained characteristics.  Although both the developers’ and designers’ standard way of thinking enables them to perform the necessary functions of their job well, it also creates limitations and oversights if they are not balancing the use of both hemispheres.

For example, “The designer’s primary focus is on color, aesthetics, and branding.  Because they tend to be visual, creative thinkers, they strive for a visually appealing user experience. This explains why many of the designer’s portfolio websites are uniquely beautiful. That being said, it is common for the designer to overlook things like proper coding practices and form testing. At some point form needs to meet function and that’s where the developer’s strengths lie.”

So how do we go about learning to use both sides of our brain?  One way for sure is through mind mapping.  Mind mapping combines elements that appeal to both sides of the brain and therefore optimizes the brain’s ability to create and learn.