Everyone faces times when our minds simply cannot hold all the pieces of information anymore. In such cases, the best idea would of course be to write them down. Research shows that the linear structure of simple note-taking does not follow the pattern of your brain, which is why you should rather focus on other forms, such as mind map diagrams, concept maps, conceptual frameworks and other diagrams. This article will present you this amazing technique in more detail and list two other diagram types you could use if you have the time and the passion required for further exploration.

Mind map diagrams

Mind map diagrams are used to visually organize information around one central idea. The latter can come in handy for personal note taking, brainstorming, organizing your thoughts or solving problems.

Mind map depicting mind mapping and mind map diagrams
An example of a mind map diagram

After putting your central idea down, you can add various branches that represent specific subtopics, and elaborate them into so-called child topics until you reach the end of your thinking process. For this, you could either use a simple piece of paper and a pen or explore the plethora of online mind mapping software. Additionally, you could also make use of a pre-defined mind map template that would simplify the whole process even further.

If you don’t like it, don’t worry. There are numerous other diagram types you explore. Keep reading to find out about two great alternative techniques that can come in handy for more specific needs.

Concept maps

Concept maps are top-down diagrams used to depict relationships between various concepts, commonly used to organize and represent tacit knowledge. They are designed for more abstract mental processes and can therefore take more time than spontaneous mind mapping.

An example of a concept map

To create a concept map, you should start with the main concept written at the top and then add individual boxes to designate subtopics. The boxes are linked with arrows in order to represent relationships between them. For this, you can use linking words, such as “causes”, “leads to” etc.

Conceptual diagrams or conceptual framework

Another diagram you could use is a conceptual diagram, also called a conceptual framework, which helps you to analyze a topic or a situation with the help of proven analytics work. 

When creating a conceptual diagram, you would insert your information into predefined category boxes, usually taken from a specific theory or a model. An example of a conceptual framework diagram would be Michael Porter’s five forces diagram:

A diagram of Michael Porter’s five forces, a conceptual framework for analyzing competitors of a business organization
Michael Porter’s five forces diagram serves as a conceptual framework for analyzing competitors in a business setting

Summary

Organizing your thoughts can sometimes be quite an excruciating task. Now that this overview has armed you with some powerful techniques, it is time you try them out yourself and discover your favorite one. If you are just starting the exploration and need a helpful tool to quickly organize your daily life,  mind map diagrams would be ideal. The other techniques are usually not as straightforward, primarily due to their specific applications and stricter rules of creation. We therefore recommend you to start with mind maps and then progress to more advanced techniques.

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