Mind Map: 11 Minutes to Improve New Ideas and their Analysis

Why Mind Map 

A mind map is a graphical way to represent ideas and concepts and takes brainstorming to the next level. It is visual thinking tool that helps structure information to better analyze, understand, synthesize, recall and generate new ideas. In a mind map, information is structured in a way that mimics more closely how your brain actually works. Since it is an activity that is both analytical and artistic, it allows your brain to activate all its cognitive functions.  

Best of all, it can help you get unstuck by using stream of conscious thinking to open up new solutions and possibilities. This way of thinking bypasses your inner logical, verbal censor also known as judgement. Judgement is what hinders our ability to come up with more options and connections because we subconsciously filter out ideas before considering them. For example, you may be able to produce 25 new thoughts using mind mapping versus 7 if I asked you to brainstorm without using a mind map structure.  

[View our Keep Being Workshop on Mind Mapping for an in-depth look]

What can we use mind maps for? 

The list is endless, but here are some ways you can apply mind mapping in your life.  

  • Note taking 
  • Brainstorming (individually or in groups) 
  • Problem solving 
  • Studying and memorization 
  • Planning 
  • Presenting information 
  • Gaining insight on complex subjects 
  • Self-awareness  
  • Decision making  

Go through the process to see connections between topics you have never noticed before and new ideas you have yet to discover. Have fun! 

How will you set up your map?  

Get creative and choose a method that helps you brainstorm easily and effortlessly. Review examples of how you can set up your mind map and consider the options below.  

Ground rules 

  1. This is not meant to be perfect or look a certain way  
  2. Get rid of all judgement and go where your mind takes you  
  3. It might not make sense as you start but keep going 

Let’s Mind Map  

Put yourself in the middle of your map and take 3 minutes brainstorm the first ring of ideas related to you.

This can include things like: 

  • Extracurricular activities that were impactful 
  • Meaningful experiences 
  • Mentors and supporters 
  • Specific skills  
  • Interests/likes 
  • Subjects 

Now take 5 minutes to further build out your first ring of topics. Where does your mind take you? What stands out to you? 

You might think about: 

  • Skills you used 
  • Likes and dislikes 
  • Learning that took place 
  • Experiences or roles  
  • New curiosities  

Now take 3 minutes to make conclusions and draw connections across the whole map. What patterns and themes do you see? 


  • Words that are frequently repeated 
  • Broader themes that connect experiences together 
  • Many branches leading to a specific topic  
  • Big picture connections  

Debrief and Answer 

  • What did you discover about yourself?  
  • What was a new idea you generated?  
  • Now that you competed this exercise, what information do you need to find out?  
  • Knowing this information, what are 3 next steps you can commit to?  

By Christina Plante
Christina Plante Assistant Director of Career Services