The goal of mind mapping is to pour the contents of your mind into an external format, so you know that the stuff in your head is noted down in a way that makes sense to you. This can help you to be more creative and expansive in your thoughts. Mind mapping can also help you visualize and drill down into ideas, and provides a helpful medium for sharing them with other people.

To generate a mind map, one option is to start with a plain piece of paper, and write your end goal or primary topic in the center. Then, all over the paper, start jotting down all your thoughts and ideas about completing your goal or breaking down the central topic. You can draw lines to connect related ideas and concepts. Eventually, you’ll create a clear map of your thinking around this project.

Here’s an example to help you visualize how this works in practice. Let’s say you want to plan an event. There are many different tasks and activities that go into doing this; unless you record them, you could easily forget what you will need to do. To create a mind map, you would  begin by writing the event’s title (e.g. “My 40th birthday party”) in the center of a piece of paper. Then, you would allow your mind to flow through everything you need to do to plan the event. When a sub-project or concept needs clarification, you can zoom into that and add related items.

A popular way to mind map is to use dedicated software or websites. These offer an easy way to electronically organize your mind maps, and the ability to focus on parts of the mind map while hiding the irrelevant parts, as well as advanced categorization and search functions.

Here’s an example of a birthday party mind map:

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As you can see, a mind map can quickly evolve into an organized reference, containing all the details you need to consider when planning and holding your event. You can use this map to ensure nothing is left undone or forgotten.