One map for your thoughts

Mind mapping is a very interesting tool when you’re doing a project, specially at the beginning. It’s really useful when you don’t know where to start from, what kind of information you need to research or expand your view of a particular subject. It’s a great exercise to put your thoughts in order in a more visual way. Basically, it’s a graphic diagram that revolves around a key idea and what you do is start writing word links around it.

This is a small preview of the map I’m doing for my first MA project called “Africapack”, in which I need to explore a solution to improve the way medicines are distributed, dispensed or packaged in Sub Saharan Africa.

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In my case, I focused on medicine packaging and after doing this mind map I discovered new subjects that I had no idea that I needed to research, such as: recycling programs in Africa, most commons diseases, weather impact on packaging, just to name a few. I might do another map focusing on Africa itself (since the location is a major issue in this project), to see where that leads me and what new insights I get.

In Ellen Lupton’s book “Graphic design thinking: beyond brainstorming” there’s a small explanation on how to make mind maps:

  1. Focus: place on element at the center of the page.
  2. Branch out: create a web of associations around the core phrase or image.
  3. Organize: the main branches of your map can represent categories such as synonyms, antonyms, homonyms, etc.
  4. Subdivide: each main branch can feed smaller subcategories. Work quickly to free up your main.

Doing this will help you visualize, structure, classify and even generate new ideas, making the thought process a little less complicated and more fun. It’s a little tricky at the beginning; you don’t know what words to write or how to do meaningful links between sections, but that’s OK because once you start practicing you’ll do them better and faster.

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