Einstein once said something to the effect of, “you cannot solve problems by thinking within the same framework or mindset that discovered the problems.” The implication is that you need to step into another mindset, another level of thinking.
So how do we step into another mindset, as Einstein implies we should? One possible method is mind-mapping, which arguably triggers a much more natural way of thinking and problem solving.
Mind mapping was a very hot topic a few years ago, and has continued to prove effective, with an increasing number of converts to this method of thinking, brainstorming and problem solving. It’s likely that many–if not most–of you already know what mind mapping is, in general. Do you know how powerful it can be for an endless number of creative, entrepreneurial, freelance and management uses?
Because mind maps offer a hybrid textual / visual method of brainstorming or simply recording thoughts, mind mapping used properly is usually far more effective for breaking through a creative block than, say, making a linear list.
Using mind maps stimulates something called radiant thinking, which is a more natural way to think than linearly. No thought that comes to mind is ever “out of place,” and can be placed somewhere in a mind map. I find that mind mapping is one of the most stimulating ways to solve problems. It often helps you to produce solutions you might not otherwise have thought of.
While pen and paper-based mindmaps are helpful, there are many benefits to using mind mapping software. For example, the ability to expand and collapse map nodes in a digital mind map means that you can rapidly switch between a detailed view (above) or a high-level view (below).
In most mind mapping software, you can link nodes to sub-maps. This is especially important to know because the larger your map gets, the less effective it becomes unless you organize it. Linking some of a master map’s nodes to other mind maps reduces the clutter. When you want to view details of a map node, clicking on it automatically launches the sub-map. This is in line with the hyper-thought and radiant thinking that we do daily without realizing it.
Integrating the use of images, icons, relationship lines (between nodes) also offers you a new viewpoint, literally, that simply cannot be achieved by using linear lists to solve problems.
OK, so the title is intentionally misleading. I’m such a strong proponent of mind mapping that I believe everyone should mindmap. However, we freelancers rely on ourselves, and as such, if we run into problems that are difficult to solve, then our revenue grinds to a halt.
Mind maps can help to rapidly solve problems because the process of mind mapping more closely resembles the way we really think. As a freelancer, I’m sure you’ll agree that if your thought process is clouded, then income is stalled.
Do you use mind mapping? Or have you found a better way that works for you?
Photo by Sanzalone.
Note: A few times a month we revisit some of our reader’s favorite posts from throughout the history of FreelanceSwitch. This article was first published September 8th, 2008, yet is just as relevant and full of useful information today.