Research is a big part of life. Even if it isn’t a part of your job, you will still have times in life where collecting information on a topic can give you an advantage in making decisions or preparing for your next move.
In my own life, I research new tools, work concepts, topics for blog posts, building a house, organizing finances, even getting a new dog.
But the type of research we’re used to doing, the type we learned in school, isn’t very useful to me. I realized a long time ago, that I think better in images. And what is a better way to organize information in the form of an image than mind mapping?
I’ve been using mind mapping for a long time. It started out with a paper and pen. Paper and pen mind maps were pretty limited. I could get the basic idea of a topic down on paper and get the general overview of the topic I was working on, but if I came across any new information that didn’t already have a space on the page, rearranging or reorganizing was nearly impossible. Also, you can’t incorporate links and videos into a paper mind map. Talk about limiting!
As technology advanced, so did my mind maps. Early mind mapping software was definitely an improvement over paper and pen. I was really excited to give these a try since I had found the medium to be so valuable to me. I’ve tested many mind mapping tools over the years.
Testing all these mind mapping tools brought me two important perspectives.
- I began to form a vision of a new way of mind mapping that would go beyond a basic mind map to combine the best of deep research with mind mapping capabilities.
- I started to form a list of the “must-have” features in a mind mapping software that could meet my exacting needs.
This led me to devise the special method of research I use today: Creative Research. But more about that later.
To understand, and truly appreciate, the potential of how my current method of research works, we need to learn a little bit more about mind maps, and why they work the way they do.
A mind map is a diagram that uses visuals to represent a topic in the center, with all of the related sub-topics coming off of that center topic. Mind maps can be arranged in different ways to use shapes, colors, and images to give a quick visual overview of the topic and related subtopics.
You may have used a mind map in the past. You were probably required to create one during your time in school as a project or assignment. As fun as it may have been to create a visually stimulating mind map to earn a grade, it’s possible you didn’t see any practical use for mind mapping in your everyday life.
There are a few possible reasons why you didn’t adopt mind mapping as a regular way of gathering information, for instance: