Summary of the book “The Mind Map Book – Unlock your creativity, boost your memory, change your life”: In this book, Tony Buzan explains the basics of how to use mind mapping and why this visual way to take notes is more effective than traditional way to take notes in relation to the memorization process.
By Tony Buzan, 2012, 228 pages
Note: this guest column is a column written by Nicolas author of the blog mémoire d’excellence
Review and summary of the book “The Mind Map Book”:
Tony Buzan was a young student when he went to his school library and found that there were no books to teach you on how to use your brain to maximize its full potential.
Like many other students, he found it difficult to memorize details, and he noticed that the more he took notes, the more he forgot. Subsequently, he asked himself a few questions:
- How do you learn to learn?
- What is the nature of the thought process?
- Which are the best methods to memorize details?
- What are the best methods to read faster and more proficiently?
- How can mental skills be improved upon?
- Can new techniques be applied?
He studied all the relevant fields that could provide him with answers (psychology, neurophysiology, semantics, neurolinguistics, information theories, memory, mnemonics) and from his research, mind mapping was born.
Part 1 – Unlimited potential
1 – This prodigious brain
We now know that your brain doesn’t have millions, but tens of billions of neurons that allow you to think. If you look under the microscope, you can see these tentacles, like the branches of a tree, that spread out from the nucleus.
In one second, a neuron can receive impulses from hundreds of thousands of junction points.
When a thought or a message is transmitted from neuron to neuron, a pathway is formed, these are called memory traces that form mental maps.
Each time a thought comes to mind, the electromagnetic and biochemical resistance of its pathway decreases.
The connection capacities of a neuron are equivalent to a succession of twenty-eight zeros, Professor Pyotr Kuzmich Anokhin of the University of Moscow wrote in 1973 in an article:
“A simple mathematical calculation shows that the number of degrees of freedom existing in the brain is so great that the line of handwritten numbers of normal size that it would take to write it would be more than 10.5 million kilometers long! ”
In the late 1960s in California, Professor Roger Sperry unveiled the results of his research on the cerebral cortex that later won him the Nobel Prize. Roger Sperry maintains that the two sides of the cortex, called hemispheres, tend to divide the main intellectual functions, the left side for the logical functions and the right side for the creative functions.
Later, researchers discovered that mental abilities were spread across both hemispheres.
The mind map imitates thoughts
The mind map is like the structure of neural pathways in search of new connections in the thought process. Unlike computers, our brains do not function in a linear fashion, but rather in a multilateral fashion, i.e., they radiate outwards, and the mind map allows the brain to implement new ideas.
2 – Take and write notes
Dominance of linearity
There are two types of notes:
- Written notes to keep a record of your ideas.
- Notes taken to record the ideas of others.
An experiment was carried out with several groups, all groups were asked to make an original 5-minute presentation on the theme of “The Brain, Innovation and the Future” with colored paper and pens. The groups were also asked to include elements related to memory, communication, time management, innovation, creativity, problem solving, planning, humor, analysis and audience involvement in their presentation.
Three main styles emerged:
- Narration: the speaker writes down exactly what they intend to say.
- List: the speaker lists the ideas that they intend to present consecutively.
- Alphanumeric prioritization: the speaker prioritizes their notes into categories and sub-categories.
The experiment shows that in each group, 95% of the participants employed the linear note system with only one black, blue or grey pen. Their notes were completely absent of any color.
The conventional way that participants choose to take notes has several shortcomings:
- Concealment of keywords: Important ideas are conveyed by keywords; in conventional notes, these keywords are lost amongst the mass of less important words.
- Difficulty to memorize: monochrome notes are visually uniform, dull and, therefore, easily forgotten.
- Waste of time: if you take notes in a linear fashion, you’ll find that you write down quite a lot of irrelevant details and will have to read them repeatedly, to find the key words.
- Lack of brain stimulation: linear presentation means that your brain is unable to make associations, which holds back creativity and memorization.
3 – Radiant thoughts
Radiant thought, from the verb “to radiate”, means “to spread out in all directions, to propagate by radiation from a given point”. It refers to the associative thought processes that start from a central point or are connected to it.
The effects of radiant thoughts
The brain is an incredibly well engineered machine, a supercomputer from which ideas spread. The concept of radiant thought is rooted in the brain’s internal structure and processes, and the mind map is an external reflection of this.
A mind map always radiates from a central image, each word or image then becomes a new center of association, all of which then creates a potentially infinite chain of ramifications linked to the common center.
Part 2 – The world of mind maps
4 – What is a mind map?
A mind map is a holistic visual and graphical mental tool that can be applied to all cognitive functions, in particular memory, creativity, learning and all forms of thinking, it is in a way “the brain’s Swiss army knife “.
A mind map is made up of:
- An image in the center that reflects the main subject.
- Several branches that are drawn from the core subject with main and secondary branches that reflect the themes of the subject.
- An image or keyword placed on each branch.
- To optimize the mind map, colors should be added to make it more attractive and easier to remember.
5 – Instructions for use
- The rules of mind mapping
These rules are intended to enhance mental freedom, not restrict it.
There are ten tips to follow in order to make your mind map function correctly:
- Choose the appropriate paper and pens.
- Draw the branches from the center.
- Differentiate the branches.
- Place keywords and images on each branch.
- Link and build connections between the different components on the map.
- Enjoy yourself.
- Copy artistic minds maps in order to help you to learn from others.
- Be outrageous.
- Design your workplace.
- Design your mind map so that people will remember it.
6 – The story of Thum Cheng Cheong
In the 2008 financial crisis, Thum Cheng Cheong was one of the people to be affected by a plan to restructure the company where he worked, and the end result was that he lost his job.
After that, Thum Cheng Cheong created a mind map to illustrate the things that had happened to him. He had already been to a seminar by Tony Buzan, in 2006, where he created a mind map about his life goals, which made him realize that he loved to create mind maps.
Back then, he didn’t have enough time to pursue this passion, as his priority was his work, but this did not stop him from the pursuit of his dreams and his passion.
Today Thum Cheng Cheong teaches mind mapping, which he describes as his main priority, he explains that the fact that he managed to survive the restructure of his former company is down to mind mapping, because it meant he didn’t worry too much about his future and didn’t reflect upon the reasons why he had been fired.
Part 3 – the main applications
7 – The memory
Mind mapping allows you to improve the memory, because of 3 factors:
- Concentration and relaxation: mind mapping relaxes the brain, because it allows you to retrieve information more efficiently.
- Organization: the use of colors and images helps to present the data in a more structured way and allows you to have an overview of the information on a page.
- Review: a mind map has more visual appeal to it thanks to the variety of colors and images, which makes it easier to remember and understand the information.
8 – Creative thoughts
- How to stimulate creative thoughts and ideas?
Ellis Paul, who is regarded as the founding father of creativity to conduct research on creativity, highlighted several important factors in his published works:
- The ability to create new associations from ideas that already exist.
- Combine unusual elements.
- Rearrange and connect old ideas with new thoughts.
- Flip ideas from the past.
- Why use minds maps?
Mind mapping helps to boost creative thoughts and ideas, because it helps to:
- Consider all the creative possibilities of a given theme.
- Eliminate the preconceived ideas that you may have on the subject
- Generate ideas that lead to specific actions.
- Create new conceptual frameworks.
- Dream up and develop new ideas.
9 – Make decisions
Mind mapping allows the brain to instantly process a wide range of complex and interrelated information, which can then provide a clear understanding of the issues involved.
The colors and images trigger emotional reactions that are essential to make decisions, as they emphasize the different points of comparison.
10 – Taking notes
With one look at a good mind map, you can immediately distinguish the important information from the less important, from the way it is set out on the page, and it has such a clear structure, it allows you to review the information much faster and memorize it much more efficiently.
If you make notes on a mind map it allows you to improve:
- Information analysis.
- The flow of ideas.
Part 4: Mind maps in professional and personal life
11 – Self Analysis
Mind maps provide a perspective on who you are as a person, therefore, they help you identify the major patterns in your life.
When you are able to view your life mapped out in this way, you are in an ideal position to identify the problems and opportunities, so that you can plan for your future happiness and successes.
- The story of Yong Sheng
Yong Sheng lives in Singapore and has been fascinated by mind mapping since he discovered Tony Buzan’s book at the age of 14.
Yong Sheng met Tony Buzan at a training session in Singapore. After that, he stayed in touch and gave him regular updates on his progress. His dream was to become an Olympic decathlon champion, so he used the mind map to illustrate his mindset and goals.
In May, he performed poorly at the Olympic competitions, and, because of a knee problem, he did not qualify for the Southeast Asian Games.
Since then, he has trained hard to improve his weaknesses, with the assistance of his mind map which showed his performance in January, he has improved a lot and now he just needs to make another mind map to clarify his new goals.
12 – Agenda
As opposed to the more conventional way to plan things, its visual counterpart; the heuristic planner, holds more interest thanks to the use of images; colors and associated connections. The heuristic planner gives you instant access to information.
Because it connects the future and the past, it allows you to plan as well as record.
13 – Studies
With so much information on one page; mind maps drastically reduce the time it takes to prepare and structure your work.
This is because it gives you an immediate overview of that particular topic. All data is easily accessible. On top of this, you’ll be less stressed as you will be more organized and feel less overwhelmed by events.
With its colorful appearance, a mind map brings tedious linear forms of presentation to life.
All of these factors will revolutionize the way you approach your studies.
14 – Meetings
Collective mind mapping can be used to enhance creativity, memory recall, analysis; problem solving, decision making, project management; training and team building (cohesion and group dynamics).
Collective mind mapping automatically leads to the emergence of a consensus as it creates a team spirit and enables everyone to focus on the group’s objectives; so that by the end of the meeting each person has a clear and similar understanding of what has been accomplished.
In a meeting, a mind map offers an advantage as it provides a clearer and more balanced view of the true content of the discussions.
Studies show that in a traditional meeting, preference is always given to those who speak first, last, loudest; with a particular accent, with a broader vocabulary or who are more senior in rank.
Mind mapping eliminates this prejudice, allows for a more objective and integrated vision; that means everyone can be heard, and encourages balanced participation and more productive teamwork.
15 – Oral presentations
Mind maps give you the freedom to connect with your audience, so you don’t lose yourself in your reams of notes. If you choose not to read from a prepared speech, it allows you to speak naturally, to be yourself, so the audience stays attentive, and you retain your energy.
Because it’s visual, there’s no need to have it in front of your face.
16 – Management
In management, most problems arise due to a lack of clarity, insufficient control or poor communication.
Mind maps avoid all of this because they allow you to see the big picture; and provide you with all of the details involved, simultaneously.
Nothing is hidden, they encourage collaboration, bond teams and are more user-friendly than dozens of pages of notes.
Thanks to the impact of its visual nature, a mind map is ideal for a manager who wants to convey an important, even crucial, message in a clear, quick and, most importantly, memorable way.
Part 5 – Mind maps and the future
17 – Digital mind maps
The author explains that when you create your mind maps on a computer, you unlock the skills that are essential in order to process information in the “post information” era. The digital mind map plays an essential role with the provision of greater clarity to the huge amounts of information at your disposal.
It enables you to collect, assimilate and integrate ideas and knowledge in a way that shows how competent you are, in both your personal and professional life.
Digital vs. traditional mind maps
Traditional paper mind maps will enable you to give it a more creative look.
However, digital mind maps are faster to create and offer greater flexibility.
Benefits of digital cards
- Automated and informative generation: with today’s software, the creation of a digital map is extremely simple and intuitive, the workspace is unlimited, you will never run out of space, as can happen with real paper.
- If you need to redraw or modify your work, it’s easy: once you have created your mind map, you can easily change it to make it more relevant or to incorporate new ideas.
- Analyze and manage information: digital maps allow you to manage a lot more information than it’s possible to do on paper.
- Virtual database and additional information: to build a good mind map, it is essential to choose a single keyword for each branch, but occasionally you will need to insert explanatory sentences or refer to more detailed sources. A digital mind map allows you to avoid graphic overload and still provide quick access to information.
- Plan projects and implementation of projects: mind mapping software allows you to integrate project management systems that support any type of project.
- Collaboration and teamwork: digital minds maps offer different ways in which to work together; which allows you to efficiently channel creativity and collective intelligence.
- Various ways of distribution: with its aesthetic and neat appearance; a mind map on PC allows you to share essential knowledge as it gives you the opportunity to distribute it in many different versions; print, image, web page, SVG (vector graphics) and in PDF.
- Different presentation modes: you can present a much more vibrant presentation in comparison to a version on paper.
- The ability to convert the mind map into a variety of different formats: Word, PowerPoint or Microsoft Project.
What is the future for digital mind mapping?
To this point, mind mapping software has proven to be extremely effective in the search for ways to increase both personal and professional productivity. It offers a creative way to gather information and also offers encouragement to better manage your intentions.
The author notes that with the advancement of technology; mind mapping software is expected to evolve and become even more powerful in the future.
Conclusion on “The Mind Map Book” by Tony Buzan:
In his book, Tony Buzan provides the basics to start mind mapping. The book is excellent for beginners, with many practical exercises to help get started.
The Mind Map Book can also be put to good use by those who already know how to use mind mapping; and want to review the basics and expand their mind mapping skills. The author does not go into depth on the subjects. The book is intended to be practical and is perfectly suited to those; who would like to take part in exercises rather than in theory.
I would highly recommend it if you wish to discover a great way to memorize details.
I discovered “The Mind Map Book” when I was on the lookout for an efficient way to take notes; and to help to retain the information, mainly to memorize books. I was all over the place when I used the conventional way to take notes. So, I wanted to know if there was another way to do it.
With the use of mind mapping, I was able to improve my memory and enjoy it at the same time. I mostly use it to take notes to review books, but also to prepare projects and articles. Thanks to this method, I can have a broad overview of each project and book I work on and now find it much easier to retain information.
Strong Points of the book Mind Map:
- Easy to read and understand book
- Gives the basics to start mind mapping
- Simple exercises to put into practice
Weak Points of the book Mind Map:
- Rather repetitive
- Some sections in the book could have been a bit more informative
My rating :
Have you read “The Mind Map Book”? How do you rate it?