Balancing your MindMaple mind map

Mindmaps are great tools for organizing, whether you’re organizing plans, notes, or ideas. However, sometimes mind mapping can get messy.

For me, that’s part of the fun. When I’m brainstorming, if I spend too much time thinking about how to structure the map, making sure it looks perfect and orderly, I diminish the organic thought process that makes mind mapping effective. Instead, I usually just continue mapping until all my ideas are out on the screen, and organize afterwards. Thankfully MindMaple has some features that make it easy to organize your map.

At first, your map might look like this:

Select “Balance map” from the “Format” menu…

…and MindMaple will automatically organize your map for you.

Your map should look more symmetrical and balanced. However this organization is not perfect. The Floating Topic has not moved, the arrows are in an awkward position, and the map looks a bit cramped overall.

Adjust the space between topics

First, let’s space the topics out. Select the Central Topic and then select “Increase” from the “Format” menu. You can choose to increase the Sibling Spacing (vertical spacing) or the Child Spacing (horizontal spacing). You can also decrease the spacing between topics. In addition, by selecting a specific Subtopic you can adjust the spacing of that Subtopic’s child topics.

Here’s my map after respacing the topics and moving the Floating Topic.

How to adjust relationship arrows

Now let’s adjust the relationship arrows, some of which are hidden behind the topics. Select the arrow you wish to adjust. Two guidelines, each with a green dot and a red dot, will appear adjacent to the ends of the arrow.

The red dots anchor the arrow to a specific location on a topic. By clicking and dragging the red dots, you can adjust the starting and ending points of the arrow.  By clicking and dragging the green dots, you can adjust the curvature and length of the arrow.

While an arrow is selected, you can modify its style and appearance by selecting “Relationship” from the top menu ribbon. For example, by selecting “Relationship Shape” you can change the arrow style from curved to angled.

The mind map with angled arrows:

Change the growth direction of your map

MindMaple can also change the expansion direction of your map. Select the Central Topic. From the top menu ribbon, select “Format” and then select “Growth Direction.” You can choose the orientation of topic growth.

The result of choosing “Left Map”:

Use gridlines to organize your map

I often prefer organizing my maps personally instead of using the automatic organization tools. A valuable feature are map gridlines, which you can turn on by selecting “View” from the menu ribbon and then selecting “Gridlines.”

A crisscross of faint lines will appear on the background of your map, which you can reference in order to align your map topics.

Good luck with your mind mapping!

Mind Mapping is an Effective Filter for Information Overload

I came across this great article by Chuck Frey, “How Mind Mapping Software Kicks Butt on Information Overload,” and I wanted to share this, since information overload has become an inevitable epidemic in our society today.   With the huge occurrence of layoffs, for example, job titles are merging causing individuals to be forced to wear many hats and take on others’ work that would normally be separate from their own.  With this increase in workload, people are not able to filter through and process all the information thrown at them.

Thus, people’s typical ways of managing and sifting through stimulus are no longer effective with the amount of information individuals are faced with today.  Chuck Frey states that mind mapping is the new filter that will help people to deal with and make sense of this situation.

Chuck categorizes several ways that mind mapping will tackle what technologists call “filter failure”:

Distilling:  Mind mapping serves as an efficient and flexible filter, “helping us to distill incoming information and data into essential bits we need to take action upon and those that are supporting information. They don’t necessarily get “thrown away”, but can be archived within a single map branch or in a sub-map.”

Grouping:  “Mind mapping software also helps us to group related items together and classify them in ways that make sense to us…”  “Mind mapping software also excels at depicting relationships, via their hierarchy of topics, relationship lines and boundaries.”

Organizing:   Mind mapping allows people to arrange information in topics and subtopics and move items if desired which facilitates further understanding of the data.   Chuck states this in turn leads to increased productivity and decision making.  

Sharing:  Once all the information is filtered and organized, individuals can share their maps visually with others.

Mind mapping is an excellent tool to effectively adjust and thrive in this age of information overload.

Please check out this diagram that Chuck Frey designed to show how mind mapping filters information.