4 mind mapping methods to spark creativity

Reflect on the last time you had to sit down and think through something — whether it was a complex problem, an important project, or a new product feature. 

Your brain was likely a jumble of questions, ideas, tasks, and tangents. And while that buzzy creative energy is a good thing, it can be tough to make sense of all of the random pieces of information spinning in your head. 

That’s exactly where the mind mapping method comes in handy. 

What is mind mapping?

Mind mapping is the process of creating a diagram (often called a mind map, concept map, or spider diagram) to organize information, ideas, and concepts. With a typical mind mapping method, you:

  1. Put your central concept at the center of your map
  2. Create branches (representing subtopics) that radiate from the center
  3. Add branches to your main branches to detail more specific information and ideas

For example, imagine that you’re creating a mind map to think through the details of your employee onboarding process. You’ll end up with something that looks like this:

Why is it helpful to get your thoughts down on paper (or a whiteboard) like this? Creating a mind map offers several benefits including:

  • Clearer thinking: Organizing information on a mind map helps you categorize information, identify gaps, and form connections that you may not have recognized without a visual tool.
  • Shareable reference: From presenting a potential solution to leadership to offering your team insight into your decision-making process, a mind map is a useful resource to share with other people.
  • Easy-to-update: Mind maps are easy to change and update — especially if you create them with a digital tool like Miro. Need to add a new subtopic or piece of information? Create a new branch. Need to delete something that’s no longer relevant? You can do so in just a few clicks and your map will auto-adjust. 

What can you use a mind map for?

Mind mapping is useful for all sorts of processes, including:

  • Brainstorming
  • Decision-making
  • Note-taking
  • Presenting
  • Problem-solving
  • Project planning

You can rely on a mind map whenever you’re struggling to get your thoughts in order. Seeing the information laid out visually will help you make sense of it.

4 mind mapping methods (and when to use them)

All mind maps work relatively the same way: you have a central concept that’s expanded into related ideas and concepts. However, there are several different ways to visually represent that information. Here are some of the most common mind map techniques.

1. Tree map

Use it to: Represent hierarchical relationships and information

With a tree map, you place your core concept at the top of the diagram (rather than at the center). Your branches and subtopics flow down from there. You’ve likely seen this type of map before in the form of an organizational chart

Relevant mind map templates: 

2. Bubble map

Use it to: Represent the details and subtopics of a concept

A bubble map uses, you guessed it, bubbles to display your main idea and connected concepts. Typically, this approach is most helpful for breaking a big topic (which goes in the center) into smaller topics or areas. For example, you could put “company values” in the center bubble with branching bubbles to display individual values. Or put “company rebrand” in the center and use the branching bubbles to explore the individual elements like your logo, color scheme, brand identity, and more.

You can use a double bubble map to simultaneously explore two main concepts that share similarities.

Relevant mind map templates:

3. Brace map

Use it to: Represent the component parts of a concept

A brace map is a lot like a tree map, except turned on its side. Your main concept goes on the left side and then expands outwards into its component parts. For example, you could use a brace map to understand your different customer segments and their details. 

Relevant mind map templates:

4. Circle map

Use it to: Represent the context of a subject

A circle map might feel a little less intuitive than the other mind mapping methods, but it’s helpful for understanding the broader context of a subject, such as the competitors in your industry. You place your main idea in the inner circle and then use the outer circle to expand on that concept — whether you list descriptors, examples, related ideas, or anything else. You can continue adding circles to the outer layer to dig deeper if you’d like. 

Relevant mind map templates:

Make the most of the mind mapping method with Miro

Mind mapping is a powerful tool for organizing your thoughts, identifying connections, and sparking more creativity. And there’s even better news: these diagrams are easy to create with Miro. 

Get started with our straightforward mind map template, one of the templates we included above, or with a blank board if you want to start from scratch. Jot down your core concept and then freely explore related ideas and topics, noting them on your map as you go. 

That’s the beauty of this type of diagram: Much like your thoughts, it’s meant to be free flowing. Banish the mind chaos and introduce a mind map for a creative exercise that’ll lead to progress and productivity. 

Ready to start your first mind map?

Get started for free with Miro today
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