“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.” - Mark Twain
This quote from Mark Twain describes mind mapping quite well. You start by writing down your task and then break it down into smaller parts. When you have everything down on your mind map, you can easily empty your mind and concentrate in the most essential part of your task.
This makes working not only more effective and faster, it can also help you to come up with new ideas when you don't have to puzzle yourself with whole project right away. Just break it apart and do it piece by piece.
Mind mapping can also be a great way to memorize things. For example I have even mind mapped people I know. That way I can check their phone numbers, birthdays, favorite colors and other things which I just can't remember because there are lots of people I know.
You can mind map either by using good old pen and paper, or by downloading mind mapping software into your computer. Both ways are good, but I feel that mind maps made using software are easier to organize and edit. They are also clearer than my scruffy handmade mind maps.
Don't get me wrong. Drawn mind maps are useful especially when you can't access your computer. That's why I always keep pen and paper with me, so I don't miss a single moment of inspiration. Later I can add them into my computer.
Software I use for mind mapping is freeware called FreeMind(current version 0.9.0), feel free to download it here.
To start mind mapping, open FreeMind and write your task in the bubble you see. For instance I did one mind map about mind mapping, so I wrote ”Mind mapping”. You can add icons into your nodes by pressing Alt+I to make your mind maps more interesting.
After that you can start breaking your task apart by pressing insert(it will insert a new child node). You can number the parts of your task if you want to illustrate which one you should do first(by adding numbers from the icon menu), or you can just make notes about your task.
You can also change color of your text by pressing Alt+Shift+F, bold text by pressing Ctrl+B and make it italic by pressing Ctrl+I. To undo press Ctrl+Z like in many other Windows programs.
Other neat feature is ability to make clouds around your node. This makes them look a lot nicer than just fork or bubble. You can make cloud by pressing Ctrl+Shift+B. If you don't like the color of your cloud, you can change it as well from Format → Cloud Color.
There are lots of other things you can do with FreeMind, so feel free to play around for a while. When you are familiar with the software, you can do mind maps really quickly and it will definitely improve your creativity and make your work lot easier.