When people first start out using mind mapping – whether in written form or with a software package – they often get stymied by the feeling that they must create a perfect mind map. This mindset, however, can be detrimental to actually producing a high-quality visual map. Here’s why:
Mind mapping works by association. Your brain sees a word in a visual map, and immediately conjures up several or dozens of associated words and concepts, which you could potentially add to your mind map. If you become overly concerned about producing a perfect mind map, chances are you will be second-guessing your brain. When that happens, you may end up clogging your brain with ideas and concepts that you aren’t quite sure how to arrange or that may not be “good enough” to include in a map. This can cause mental constipation, which gets in the way of producing an excellent mind map.
To sidestep this mental tendency, remember if you are using mind mapping software that it is designed to manipulate ideas and concepts with greater flexibility than any other type of software. You can easily use it to do a “mental core dump” – capturing all of your ideas without regard to their structure – and then rearrange them with complete freedom until they make sense to you.
If you are not quite sure where to place a particular idea within your mind map, don’t let that stop you. Create a special branch called a “parking lot” and placed them there for future consideration.
Even if you are mind mapping by hand, the same concept applies: Do the mental core dump and capture all of your ideas on paper. Then, once you have converted your ideas to tangible form on paper, use the first version of your map to create a second one is closer to the ideal that you had in mind.
What has been your experience with this perfection trap? Have you experienced it? If so, how did you get around it?