What do road signs, flow charts, and hieroglyphs have in common? They are all maps of thought! Humans have been thinking in terms of maps as one of the first communication systems.

You are probably familiar with the phrase "mind map," which is credited to Tony Buzan from the series called Use Your Head. Mind mapping is one of the most well-known ways to understand the world.

Tony Buzan's Representation of a Mind Map

How To Think In Maps

Mind maps are inspired by trees, as you can see in the diagram above. However, as more complex ideas have evolved, new ways of thinking in maps have also been created. Here are the five different types of maps in order of increasingly intricate systems.

Radial maps. These are traditional mind maps that start with a central concept and connect ideas outward. This is a good initial tool, but the lack of interconnections becomes its limitation.

Nested maps. This type of map is the opposite of a radial map: start with the general concept and work inwards. However, it is difficult to change relationships between the "branches" of this map.

Topic maps. These allow for interlinking between topics without following a radial structure.

Process maps. This is also known as a flowchart, in which each concept is connected in a specific order. Process maps are a common way to think about information and decisions.

Concept maps. Instead of starting with a specific point, concept maps use a context frame. These bi-directional links are useful to capture complex relationships between various concepts.

Why Should We Think In Maps?

Mind mapping increases creativity and productivity that inspires more ideas, identifies relationships among the different data and information, and effectively improves memory and retention.

Making a mind map is a natural way to sort out your thoughts and ideas in less time because it follows your natural thought process. It gives you the freedom you need when brainstorming so that the flow of ideas is not hampered as linear thinking does.

Making connections is easier because you have all the information about a particular topic in a single glance. It can even help you discover new relationships among seemingly unrelated ideas.

Whether you are in school or working, mind mapping can unlock creative and intellectual potential you may not know you possess. If you try it or need help, feel free to reach out through email or social media!

Which type of map are you most interested in? Let me know in the comments below!