Your brain is always recording data but in order for that information to stand out from the rest, a person usually needs some kind of aids. Note taking is a common way to record information to enhance problem solving and be more creative. Mind maps are simply a new way to take notes - they help you identify the structure of a subject at a glance.
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In essence a mind map is a diagram that is arranged or drawn around a central idea or key word. You can then make use of drawings to represent tasks, ideas, words or any other item that you can think of or that you come across. In this way mind maps are actually learning or study aids that help you visualize better.
Mind maps can have a variety of elements depending on what you are studying and these elements can help you understand or remember more about a subject later on. A lot of students are making use of mind maps in order to organize information and help classify ideas. Mind maps can also be a great visual aid in business or work related environments.
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In a way mind maps are like brainstorming on paper. They can be helpful as a study resource and they can help with organizational tasks and all kinds of planning. Since you arrange the items in a mind map according to level of importance, it is an intuitive arrangement of classifications or general ideas which allow you to decipher connections encourage a visual approach to learning.
In note taking a person usually makes use of a non graphical technique to record information and at the end of the day it may be more tiresome than usual. This is why you may not be able to relate a lot of the information in notes later on. But since mind maps are graphical drawings placed in a non-linear radial fashion, they allow you to process and put down information faster. It is a lot like other concept mapping styles.
There is a specific way in which mind maps are supposed to be created in order to enhance learning. The author who brought about the concept of mind maps was Tony Buzan and there are ample guidelines in his book available for creating a good mind map. One of the main guidelines in the book explains that you need to start in the center of page with topic image and then make use of various colors to indicate different levels of data.
In addition to that basic guideline you can use all kinds of codes, shapes, symbols, images or even dimensions to record items throughout the map around the central subject. The use of various colors (Buzan suggests one use at least three colors) is a kind of visual aid to encode items, group items and also offer visual stimulation.
Mind maps are simpler to use than any of the previously known concept mapping techniques and since there is no hard and fast rule to what you need to add to a mind map, everyone can have different versions of it according to what works best for them in their situation. Whether you are taking notes or simply brainstorming to write a book, you can make use of mind maps to organize information.