Mind maps:show structure

Our world, our work and our life are not just big piles of single things. Everything we think about, process or touch has a structure. The whole is there always more than the sum of the parts. Just like a bag of feathers doesn’t replace wings.

Maybe you are also looking for something that helps us to order tasks, knowledge and so much else and to give structure to our thoughts. Mindmaps seem to be a good approach:

Mind Map

Mind maps: showing and understanding structures

Mind maps are valuable aids to comprehension, memory, structuring, creativity and more. This text was originally a book tip: "The Mind-Map Book" (Amazon affiliate link) is a pretty recommended introduction to this topic to date.

Tony Buzan claims in his mind map book that mind maps are the best way to increase your mental potential. Is this true?

A mental map.

Do your listeners understand what you are trying to say?
Understand yourself what the speaker means?
And do you find this easy?


An idea only advances when others understand it. It is easier to understand something if you succeed in simplifying the connections and creating a mental map, so to speak.

Who enters new territory,
needs a map.
At least in the head.

We need to know how things are connected. We need structure. Also in a project and in our ideas, plans and goals. How to do it with method?

Using the condensation gradient

Nobel Prize Roger Sperry Brain

There is a mental density gradient between the two hemispheres of the brain. A mind map is an instrument to use this gradient methodically. The right hemisphere of the brain thinks directly in terms of sensory impressions, z.B. in pictures. The left hemisphere thinks in condensed content: In words, concepts, abstractions and categories. Texts or pictures address only one brain hemisphere at a time. See also "Hemisphere division of the brain".

With a mind map you can make a connection. By mapping structures and categories, we make it easier for the brain hemispheres to understand each other better. Mind mapping turns the competition of the brain hemispheres into togetherness.

Tony Buzan, a well-known non-fiction author in the field of thinking methods, is considered the "inventor of mind mapping.


Mind mapping is based on a simple idea: Many knowledge contents, situation descriptions, action plans, etc., are to be organized. are represented by lists. One simply enumerates arguments, tasks, aspects. Often this is done in hierarchical form as a kind of classification:


A. Vehicles
1. Land vehicles
a. Civil vehicles
I. Commercial vehicles
– Transport vehicles

Tony Buzan:
The mind map book
(Amazon Affiliate Link)

Understanding requires color and structure

For larger planning, z.B. for a current goals and tasks overview, a color concept like in meineZIELE has proven to be particularly useful: (See also myTARGET mindmaps)

While building up these structures in our mind, however, we can go one step further, thinking completely right-brained in images, structures and colors. The tool mind maps is very well suited for this purpose.

Mind maps are simply the graphical representation of an outline. So in the mentioned meineZIELE structures can be easily imported and exported as mind maps from and to Mind Manager or freemind. Here is an automatically generated mind map (displayed with freemind):

It has proven useful to use mind maps in the initial phase of a project, when ideas and first thoughts are still being collected. This is done today with the beamer on the screen and the well-known, but now also a little complex product Mind Manager or with a free alternative (freemind is excellent). But of course it can be done even more clearly (shown with meineZIELE):

Mind Map from the mind map view of meineZIELE

Mind maps are very structural. This view is useful when learning or looking for orientation. Often mind maps are used directly to control tasks and projects. But in this case it is not useful. An outliner view, with its emphasis on "What’s next??", Is more effective.

Mind map from the mind map view of meineZIELE

The same context, here on the screen (with meineZIELE) directly confronted, looks not only completely different. The two representations have also completely different use-focuses. The creative, orientation searching is better supported with the mind map view. In contrast, goal-oriented thinking, everything that has to do with tackling and implementing, is much better accommodated in the outliner representation at left.

More creative with a mind map

Simple outlines are inevitably read in a linear fashion and therefore often hinder the recognition of cross-references. That’s why you try a different arrangement: you use the whole surface of a paper. To do this, you start in the middle with a concept or sketch and branch your notes outward like a tree.

With a creativity-oriented mind mapping program like MindManager, you can’t really do "hands-free" mind mapping recreate what makes paper and colored pencils so unique. But at least it is possible to include sketches in the maps and a variety of graphical design tools gives the feeling of creative work.

With mind maps you can improve your overview, get a view for the essential connections, facilitate the conceptual classification and develop an easier flow of ideas.

The mind map makes it easier for us to make faster and more informed decisions, we learn and understand more easily, we find cross-references and new ideas more easily. We work out a theme from its structure.

Learning with mind maps is more fruitful and naturally structured. While in the traditional approach we hung individual leaves in the air, now we start with the root, develop trunk and branches, creating a natural mental tree structure.

When to use mind maps, when to use structure?

Mind maps are the tool of choice for learning, for developing new learning material, for designing a presentation and such, often very creative tasks. In projects they are rightly highly controversial. As soon as you start implementing tasks, the structured representation is clearly superior. Also for "multi-project management, so a multitude of small, everyday projects, as often encountered in management tasks, the traditional outline is clearly preferable.

So it makes no special sense to organize your task management from mind maps. But it is quite useful to occasionally use mind maps as an additional view of the same context, even for this purpose. It can act like a second pair of eyes.

Daylight projector

The great advantages of mind maps are in the creative field, in communicating ideas, in developing common ideas, in many learning tasks and in the start-up phase of projects. The biggest advantage, and this is really no surprise from a denkmethodical point of view, is to create mind maps by hand, with paper and crayons.

Mindmapping with projector and screen?

Today, there are hardly any conventional projectors in meeting rooms. With a beamer, which can project directly from the software, you can of course also follow the creation of mindmaps on the screen.

But mindmapping by hand would be sometimes nicer. Then a trick helps: To the document camera Sceye, with which one can scan in individually arriving documents particularly fast and simply, there is an auxiliary software, which creates in connection with a Beamer the possibility of bringing hand drawings directly when creating on the screen. When it comes to mind mapping for developing ideas, this is recommended.

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