How to Take Effective Notes with Mind Maps

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Adrian is a true advocate of the analysis profession. He participates conferences, listens and talks to his clients, and offers business analysis consultancy and training solutions to a range of clients in different industries. He is willing to share his experience for note taking, and how he makes the best out of mind mapping for note taking, hence, ideas and effective solutions.


Tell us about yourself a bit :)

I’m a business analyst, based in the UK. I work with a range of clients in a range of industries, it is a very varied and interesting role! I’ve written two books (‘Business Analyst’ and ‘Be a great problem solver… Now!’) and am a regular blogger at www.adrianreed.co.uk . You can find out more about my company at www.blackmetric.co.uk

What do you use mind maps for?

I use mind maps for a number of purposes.

One key area is note-taking. For example, when I’m at a conference I’ll often be tapping away on my Android tablet, creating a mind map of the presentation I’m listening to. I find this really useful as it helps me to remember what’s been said and make connections between different topics.

When I’m investigating a tricky problem situation, I’ll often use a mind map informally to collect my thoughts. Also, I find it a useful way to organize a brainstorm. A good brainstorm might generate hundreds of ideas, but a mind map provides a good way of organizing those thoughts into themes and sub-themes.

I’m sure I use them for other things too, but these are the ones that spring to mind!

How long have you been using XMind?

Hmm… I really can’t remember! Probably at least five years – maybe longer?

What makes you think a mind mapping tool is different from other productivity tools?

For me, I don’t use mind mapping as a productivity tool, more a tool to explore and communicate ideas. One of the strengths of a mind map is that it requires very little explanation; I can easily use it to summarize and communicate a topic (whereas other more free-format diagrams might need explanation). I find mind maps are most useful when there’s an inherent ‘taxonomy’ (i.e. where it’s possible to organize things into groups/themes/branches etc.).

What's your routine/principles when you are making mind maps?

Take a look at this video, it outlines exactly this (with an example!) https://youtu.be/4qO1al4_FmQ_

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What are the preparations before note-taking with mind maps?

I really don't prepare at all: The key is to listen intently to what is being said.

How do you define and jot down inportant information? What are your tips and tricks for note-taking?

The real key is to listen intently - there really is no substitute for really listening to what is being said (and, if it is a meeting, for speaking and clarifying). Mind maps are fairly iterative - so we should never be afraid to add to them as more information emerges.

How to improve note-taking skills? (Do you have secret training?)

The only way of improving a skill is to do it, and learn along the way!

Which feature/features do you like most in XMind? Why?

I like the fact I can use it on my PC and my Android tablet, and I like the way I can use a mixture of text and images. This means it’s possible to create some very visually appealing mind maps.

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