Tony Buzan's book (I read the 2010 BBC Active edition) has been a very actionable book for me. I was feeling at an impasse with committing my plans and thoughts into paper and couldn't place why it took me so long to write so little and why I couldn't remember or get excited for taking notes, even for projects I liked. The book pointed out, correctly in my case, that linear, text-heavy notes don't stimulate a lot of areas in the brain and thus require more repetition to stick. In contrast, less wordy maps that incorporate visual cues (graphics, arrows, font change, colors ...) activate a lot more brain regions and so stick better. As a bonus, adding aesthetics to a map (doodling and embellishing the branches, keywords...) makes it memorable and stimulates further associations, not to mention actually making it fun. And I am no artist by any stretch.
Buzan amply provides up to date reputable research from cognitive psychology to highlight what works for the brain in cognitive tasks such as remembering, keeping flow and analysing. The mind map, he constantly reminds, is supposed to somewhat mirror what the brain is doing when it associates, remembers... Also, the book practices what he preaches and is filled with colors, both in the text and with colorful and picture rich mind maps. His guidelines are well illustrated. The book also gives light in-chapter exercises so that the point is brought home then and there. It is easy to digest with chapters seldom topping 10 pages.
Here and there, Buzan plugs his iMindmap software but the plugs are localized to that chapter for the most part and not very intrusive.
For me chapters 8, on techniques, and 13 on the note taking process as a whole, including how to attack a book in waves and factoring time IN ADVANCE, were gold mines of good ideas. I wish I had this stuff when I was in school. Would have extracted more from those big textbooks. Buzan reminds us that notes are really conversations between us (what we associate with the material) and the author (what he or she associates). Remembering the material is just one goal of note taking, and analysis (which comes from the structure of the map, for instance) and creativity (in adding our associations to the ideas as well as the author's) also play a role while taking notes. It's a perspective I've seldom heard and which makes sense to me. The book is filled with those insights and not just in the abstract; there are examples everywhere.
My first few mind maps were, as expected, uneven and not following all guidelines but with each one and reskimming paragraphs in those two chapters, the maps improved and got better. Revising existing maps allowed me to commit them better to memory and further pin down what the main ideas I'm building around are.
All in all, I highly recommend this book for people stuck in text land and feeling something missing in how they understand the subject matter they are working with.
- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: BBC Active (10 December 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1406647160
- ISBN-13: 978-1406647167
- Product Dimensions:: 16.5 x 1.9 x 24.1 cm
- Shipping Weight: 467 g
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