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Using mind maps for planning, analysis and creativity

Capturing and communicating information in visual and verbal forms has always been a handy skill to have. What started as historical hieroglyphics and illustrated manuscripts has morphed into modern tools like Ishikawa diagrams, visual storytelling and mind maps. Each aims to get to the heart of an issue in different ways, boiling it down to key points for better understanding.

If you’ve ever wanted to add mind maps to your own analytical and creative toolkit, here’s a quick introduction to some of the things you can use them for:

Planning and organisation

Mind maps challenge you to prioritise and sort via the central branches, so they can be great for planning and organising. This could include:

  • Daily or weekly activity planning
  • Workshops and project plans
  • Projects and strategic planning

Analysis and learning

Mind maps incorporate techniques associated with learning and remembering, including key words, connecting concepts, underlining, and visuals. This means they’re handy for things like:

  • Note-taking for presentations, interviews and groups
  • Summarising themes from articles, journals and books
  • Highlighting and connecting themes in analysis

Creativity and innovation

Mind maps can supercharge creative thinking, and are great for shifting writer’s block and generating ideas. I’ve used maps for things like:

  • Brainstorming creative projects
  • Design thinking and planning cycles
  • Organising ideas for writing articles, reports and presentations

Here’s an example of a mind map from a recent Research Society ‘Turbo Training’ session. It lasted just half an hour, but there was a lot of information packed in by the presenter!

…but I can’t draw!

Mind maps actually have a way of making it look like you can draw, even though you’ve just added a child-like house and a few stick people. Jotting little doodles and pictures is a fun part of the process that challenges you to elicit more meaning from your notes, in a way that only needs to make sense to you.

If you’d like to learn some of the main techniques for mind mapping and try applying it in your own work and projects, join Lucy Blakemore at Turbo Training – Connected Thinking: Mind maps for planning, analysis and creativity in research on Thursday 23 September 2021 @ 3:00PM AEST.

If you have any questions please contact The Research Society Training Manager, Sue York at

Author: Lucy Blakemore – Research & Insights Consultant

Lucy is a qualitative research and insights professional specialising in the global education sector, student experience and digital transformation in education.

Lucy has been mind mapping for over 20 years, capturing notes, book summaries, conference presentations and even entire courses on a single page. Her mind maps have been featured in blogs, webinars and events by universities, government and professional associations.