Mind Mapping Your Journal Entries

Clustering, also called Mind Mapping, is a great way to savespace and time when you journal. For those of you thataren't familiar with Mind Mapping, you can search in Googleon the words or reading one of Tony Buzan's (the creator)books. At the end I've included the ten basic rules of MindMapping.

A Mind Map is a powerful graphic technique that harnesseswords, images, numbers, logic, rhythm, color and spatialskills. Unlike linear notes, it allows your mind to workwith expansion.

Mind Maps are an incredibly powerful memory tool. As I wasstudying for my CPA exam, I created a very large detailedMind Map that covered several walls in my home office. WhenI was taking the exam I could close my eyes and see the MindMap and go right to the answer.

We both know a picture says a thousand words. In MindMapping, you can use one word to trigger a set of memoriesor you can draw a picture (artistry doesn't matter) thatrepresents a story or memory for you.

You can use the Mind Mapping or Clustering techniques torecord a single event or a whole day of events. If you areworking on time management, you can also use a Mind Map totrack time and tasks. For this, you will want to turn thepaper landscape, add a center picture, like a clock, and usethe branches pointing the same way as the clock's hour --noon or midnight would be straight up, one o'clock slightlyto the right of midnight, etc. The subbranches would be oneword representing your focus or task during that time.

After attending a personal development event or that eveningI like to reflect on my experience by drawing a Map fromwhat I recall. This is a great way to transfer my thoughtsfrom short term to long term memory. If I took notes Ichoose one word or image that represents each though persingle branch for each area. When I remember a thought thatdoesn't connects clearly, I record a trigger word of what Ido remember along with a question mark right before I turnin for the night. By morning I have the answer or acomplete picture that build on that Map. Sometimes themorning also brings additional ideas or fuel for thought.

By keeping your Maps or Clusters in your journal -- usuallyall in one place -- you can quickly review previous Maps tobuild upon. Since Maps provide a master aerial view it'seasier to see how the dots connect -- the aha moments orunmasking patterns. They stand out easier than in linearnotes.

Maps also shorten the journaling time. What might normallytake pages or an hour in linear writing now take 15 minutes.

Being creative and having fun with this technique isimportant to the experience. Mapping encourages the use ofcolored pencils, pens and the use of images in place ofwords. My drawing skills haven't improved since third gradeyet after a few hundred lopsided airplanes I can now drawthem from several angles. But I'm still sticking with stickpeople.

Ideas also count. Ideas always occur during our writing.We're writing away, an idea pings up and we either need totry and hold it on the edge of our mind or record itsomewhere quickly before it slips away. Start a Map on a newpage, place the idea in the center of the page, then returnto finish the writing. You will find your mind popping inand out from one to the next as you continue writing.

You can also keep a separate Map journal. Ever few years Iremember to buy a journal for that purpose. One of myfavorite Map journals is, Note Sketch Book by Bienfang. Youcan order them in many places on the Net. Our local Staplesstore usually carries them in stock. They are differentbecause the top portion of each page, about three-quarters,is blank and ready for your Map. While the bottom portionhas lines for writing.

Of course, Maps and Clusters have many other uses -- likebrainstorming (alone or in a group), research, reading,studying, or memorizing. Thus, learning the technique isworthy to learn. I use them for just about everything,including the three books I'm working now.

Basic Rules for Mind Mapping:

1. Sheet sideways.

2. Pen or computer

3. Select topic, problem or subject and purpose.

4. Start in the center of the page.

5. Use color to trigger memory. Each separate main branchhas a different color and each subbranches for that mainbranch stay that branches color.

6. Branches closest to the center are thicker.

7. Each idea starts a new branch.

8. Use images to express ideas whenever possible.

9. The image or word needs to sit on the line and in print.

10.The line needs to be the same length as the image or word.

(c) Copyright, Catherine Franz. All rights reserved.

Catherine Franz, a MindMapping trainer, has been Mapping since the mid-1980s. She offers two books (pdf or in print) on journaling techniques and tips at: http://www.abundancecenter.com/Store/main.htm.

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