Mind-mapping is a way of presenting ideas visually in order to clear the brain, boost productivity, and help clarify conversations about that piece of work you just can’t get your brain around. Mind-mapping techniques can help put things in a different light so that you’re not left spinning your wheels while you wait for inspiration to strike. Think it’s the kind of stuff that doesn’t really work? Think again! Mind-mapping has been used since the 1960s, when it was popularised by Allan M. Collins, and traces of mind-mapping have cropped up throughout history from as early as 3BC.

So what does mind-mapping do to help?

1. Increase creativity

You might be wondering what this has to do with running a business. The thing is, creativity isn’t just for artists, designers, and right-brain careers, it’s also vital for corporate workers. If there isn’t any opportunity to flex your creative spark during the day-to-day, it might be easy to fall into a pattern of thinking within a regimented box. Mind-mapping means that your creativity can take the centre-stage and allow you to think outside of that box, and come up with solutions that might not normally occur to you.

2. Boost productivity.

Everyone knows the old adage: ‘productivity ends in scheduled meetings’. Getting your team into one room and asking them for solutions might lead to arguments, and stagnated progress, and putting them on the spot doesn’t help, either. Formal meetings tend to leave people far stiffer, and less likely to share their ideas, which means that that one-hour meeting block might not actually yield any results.

Mind-maps, on the other hand, are informal by their definition. While the purpose is to organise thoughts, it’s much easier to coax people to put down their ideas if they know that they’re just that – ideas, and not likely to reflect badly on them. And when one person offers up a solution, the rest will be inspired and chime in. Soon, the connections start flying, and you’ll need more than one sheet of paper to keep everything tracked.

Furthermore, mind-mapping gives you a clear path to your solution by letting you circumvent the problem. Thinking around the issue, instead of directly solving it, might sound counterintuitive, but as the human brain doesn’t work linearly either, mind-mapping could cut down the time spent trying to bridge the gap between you and the problem.

3. Keep track of what’s being said.

Meeting minutes are important; no-one is going to disagree. However, during a meeting, it can be easy to miss the verbal forest for the minute trees – and even if you do catch everything that’s being said, linking everything together might be even harder. How are you going to be sure that those minutes correspond to each other? You try a mind-map. The customisable format of the mind-map means that linking thoughts together can be accomplished with a few lines, and the creation of subheadings. No more confusion!

4. Outline.

Mind-mapping sounds like an informality, something to do to clear the air, and then put away and never speak of again; however, a lot of usable information comes out of mind-mapping. By putting information into an open pattern, organised by lines and sub-headings and themes, it’ll be easier to stand back and look at the project overall, and see what would be the clearest and easiest way to solve your problem. A project outline is the hardest, and most difficult, step to do when you’re not really sure of what you’re going to do, but mind-mapping allows you to get a top-down view of all your industry professionals, all your information, all your streams, and makes it easier for you to build a project outline and figure out where you’re going, what you’re doing, and how you’re going to do it, in that order.

5. Know what you know.

You’d be surprised at the amount of information that people just accumulate over time. During a scheduled meeting, it might be difficult to consolidate everything that everyone knows, partly because it might not crop up in a regimented meeting, and partly because it could be complicated to work into an overall plan without knowing precisely what’s coming before and after that moment. However, the mind-map allows you to put information on paper without needing to know where it goes – for the minute. That makes it easier to get an understanding of the information you have available.

Ultimately, mind-mapping not only helps simplify the working process, training your people to work with mind-maps allows for greater collaboration within teams, as they will have a better understanding of everyone’s strengths and weaknesses even before they run into a problem. Meetings are easier to run, more engaging, and encourage people to talk; pretty soon, hour-long meetings where nothing gets done will be a thing of the past.