When you’re prepping for tests and prioritizing all the projects, presentations and homework assignments from each of your classes, your responsibilities can feel a bit overwhelming. You could keep track of your to-do’s with a bulleted list or reminders on your smartphone, but there’s one strategy that has proven to be successful when it comes to effectively organizing your thoughts: mind mapping.
What is mind mapping?
Mind mapping can be done on paper or on a digital device, and it starts with one main topic, such as a research paper, a group presentation or a school subject. From there, you break that topic down into related, sub-categories using branches, icons, various colors or other visual representation. The idea is that you’re capturing your thoughts and organizing them in a visual manner that’s easy to digest. Mind maps can be used to learn about a specific subject, to prepare for a final exam or even to work through a problem.
There are free tools available if you prefer to create your mind maps on a digital device like a smartphone or tablet. FreeMind is great for use on computers, while MindMeister is ideal for a tablet or smartphone that you can take anywhere. If you do opt for a digital mind map, you can include attachments, links and other notes to make your creation even more detailed.
Benefits of mind mapping
Why create a mind map instead of simply writing your thoughts down in a list format? Well, by making a mind map using a combination of words, phrases and pictures, you’re actually more likely to remember the information. In fact, Digital Splash Media said that words and pictures used together are six times more effective for retaining information than words alone.
Mind mapping is also a great way to help you connect the dots between thoughts or ideas. Concepts are physically linked together, allowing you to see the larger picture of a subject and really fill in the blanks on all of the details. This strategy can make your study sessions even more effective by providing you with an immediate deeper understanding of the subject rather than having to comb through your notes over and over again.
Various colors are often used to differentiate between subjects and ideas on mind maps. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, color has been found to play a role in enhancing the performance of memory.
Next time you’re starting a project or studying for an exam, give mind mapping a try to see how it compares to other organizational strategies.