So far I have referenced Tony Buzan books for mindmapping. I am realizing that I need to give my students a short and useful explanation of how to use mindmapping and why. This post is intended to be useful, so I will not go into historical, classical and programmable aspects of mindmapping, but focus on my own and very useful version of it.
For me a mindmap represents an article or a book chapter, but it can be larger or smaller. A group of mindmaps may create a larger mindmap like trees create a forest.

  1. What our (adapted) mindmapping looks like?
    Many of you have experienced fancy mindmapping applications with beautiful designs. You do not have to do that in your head. You need to keep only the following basics:
    • Anchor. The root node or anchor is the place from where you access your whole mindmap. Whatever imagery you use for it, make it stand our and be unforgettable. This is like a personal title you give to an article. If you invest t time in a marker, do invest 5t time in the anchor, it is THAT important. The anchor should summarize the essence of what you need to remember. Anchor is like a trunk to a tree.
    • Retrieval markers. The anchor is connected to the retrieval markers, which are like landing pages for various line of thoughts. These markers are created AFTER reading the article and are used as triggers to remember the root node from as many perspectives as the article supports. Do invest 10t time in the retrieval markers, or you may forget the whole mindmap in a way that only spaced repetition can cure. Disclaimer: I do not like spaced repetition and use it only when I cannot create stable memorization. Retrieval markers are line the roots of a tree.
    • Main branches. The main branches are allocated for main ideas springing our to the trunk. Typically you have 3-6 main branches per mindmap, which correspond to sections within an article. The main ideas should come with viable markers. Do invest in main ideas 3t time.
    • Smaller branches. The smaller branches are allocated to supporting ideas, controversies, facts. These are the bulk of your markers, and you should have ~2 per paragraph, subject to density of the text. Do invest in markers t time, after all you ARE speedreading. Please note, that each branch should have a visual representation, like an icon or a 3D object or a room, based on the methodology you are using. Typically you create markers during prereading stage.
    • Leaves. The details, facts, numbers, specific information generates leaves. Leaves are typically encoded back as details of the branch that supports them [colour of the marker, its texture, its shape and design]. However if these details are complex (names, dates, formulas), they are encoded into separate yet smaller branches. All the leaves are typically encoded immediately after reading a paragraph.
    • Strings. Most of us should not only retain what we read, but also generate new thoughts. While most of the articles we encounter are built like a tree, the way our thought functions is more of a spider weaving a web between trees to catch elusive bugs of new creative ideas. Thus we connect small branches and leaves of various trees with a translucent web of strings I usually call hyperlinks. This is my addition. You will not find hyperlinks in the original mindmapping theory, but you cannot operate mindmaps effectively without connecting different trees. In software we use pointers and references with a similar effect.
  2. When do we use mindmapping? Mindmapping is not very useful for memory sports. You cannot effectively encode decks of cards or sequences of numbers into a mindmap. It is probably not very efficient when you need to work in real time: during conversations and lectures. However, almost any computer program, text book, article or presentation can be effectively encoded as a mindmap.
  3. Mindmapping over clock face. I am so used to work with data structures, that mindmapping over a data structure comes natural for me. The form of mindmapping Anna uses with students is more classical. She asks you to imagine the face of an analogue clock with numbers 1-12. Now the trunk or the bigger branch always connects where the clock strikes 12. You still got 11 hours to position additional markers/branches. Since each marker is a visual entity, you visualize the clock with the marker near the relevant number, like an icon. It is recommended to put markers on odd hours 1-3-5 etc, and use the even hours as reserve for the markers we need to add later on, like results of our analysis, details we missed in first read etc. The clock face allows to remember the exact order of markers (you draw them clock-wise), relationship between markers and some other details.
  4. Can mindmapping be used with other forms of memorization?
    Typically it makes sense to make a hybrid between mindmaps and other forms of memorization. For example it could be PAO, like a spider connecting leaves. Or it could be a memory palace, like a botanical garden where every tree holds its own story. Occasionally the articles have numbers or strange names, like legal paragraphs or body parts, in that case a variation of Major System may be used to label the mindmaps and serve as retrieval markers.
  5. Moving trees.
    Mindmaps can be easily moved around. You can easily cut branches from a tree. You can easily graft one mindmap to another (remember the even numbers on the clock face?). You can spin association strings between mindmaps. You can easily progress along each branch to the leaves of concrete details or to the roots of specific applications. You can flatten a tree into a flow-chart or a use-case. You can even make multidimensional trees (see hyperlinking and chunking.) Unlike other methods, mindmaps are extremely handy to manipulate with.

Anna teaches mindmapping as the default way to remember text. I use mindmapping as a default way to memorize and analyse new ideas and complex scenarios. We hope that with this small explanation, you will find mindmapping more handy.

Get 4 Free Sample Chapters of the Key To Study Book

Get access to advanced training, and a selection of free apps to train your reading speed and visual memory

You have Successfully Subscribed!

10 Replies to “Mindmapping”

  1. Hi Dr Lev,

    I come from the Udemy Superlearner course!
    I was wondering how to link visual markers after reading a book to mind mapping.
    What I am currently doing is to come up with detailed compound markers to encapsulate main ideas in the book, and then try to put these images into the mindmap.. however you mentioned that the images we use for mindmapping should not be too detailed. So how do we add these compound markers into the mindmap? If we are to even add it in at all.

    Would appreciate your reply on this, tks!!

    1. If you take one of my masterclasses you will see that I use hybrid structures for complex stuff: mental cities and mental forests.
      For simple stuff, everything works. It is a tradeoff of speed vs retention vs flexibility.

  2. Hi Dr. Goldentouch,

    My first question is directed at the clock method, specifically at the relationship between the clock and the tree structure. Do you mean to visualize both the tree, and the clocks being connected to it, in the ‘intersections’ of branches? Or is it one or the other?

    If the tree is involved, are your mindmaps two or three dimentional?

    I am also struggling with integrating the markers into the tree or clock clock. Is it just a picture of a marker in the center of the clock? and what to do, if something is very difficult to picture on a tree? Finally, does the markers on your different branches visually interact with each other for linking purposes?

    Best regards from Denmark 🙂

    1. You can choose either a clock or a tree or something else. There should be some degree of creativity in your visualization. Do not overcomplicate by combining too many details.
      Most people use 2D mindmaps. The idea of3D mindmaps is intriguing and definitely possible, but I do not know people who practice this.
      Please start with regular mindmaps – you can find many examples via google. Then personalize the process.

  3. Could you explain a bit more the difference between Retrieval markers and the Main branches?
    Aren’t both of them visual representation of the main points of the article you’re trying to memorize?

    1. You do need some triggers to activate your recall. Typically these triggers are not large concepts, but rather jewels of writing: anecdotes, examples, symbols. We use main branches for concepts but these concepts are hardly very unique or memorable by themselves. We need the “jewels” coded as anchor markers to find our way in the maze of concepst.

    2. You do need some triggers to activate your recall. Typically these triggers are not large concepts, but rather jewels of writing: anecdotes, examples, symbols. We use main branches for concepts but these concepts are hardly very unique or memorable by themselves. We need the “jewels” coded as anchor markers to find our way in the maze of concepts.

  4. Great article and structure 🙂 !

    In my opinion when it comes to super-learning, linking is the most important part of it, I think it’s even more important than markers!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.