A lot of people search the Internet for Mind Map software. And that’s great… provided they’re getting it from Tony Buzan. Most especially when you’ve read his book, Mind Map Mastery.
Why read this book?
First of all:
No one else alive has thought so thoroughly through this incredible technique for externalizing the brain and interacting with it.
Even better, no one else has shown so thoroughly how:
- A proper Mind Map boosts creativity.
- How Mind Mapping as a practice improves memory.
- How the process of mind mapping sets you mentally free (more on that in a bit).
It gets better too because…
No one has given more Mind Mapping examples than Tony Buzan.
And in Mind Map Mastery, Tony Buzan provides exactly what the subtitle of this book promises:
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The Complete Guide To Learning And Using
The Most Powerful Thinking Tool In The Universe!
In this extensive book review, you’re about to discover:
* Why Tony Buzan’s Mind Map Mastery delivers on this promise
* Why making your thoughts visible eliminates mental exhaustion
* Why colors create mental focus and energy
* How simple limits create an infinity of ideas
* How a proper Mind Map can serve as a Memory Palace
* Bonus: How to fuse a Tony Buzan Mind Map with the Major System!
If all that sounds good to you, please read every word on this page. I promise I will earn your agreement that Mind Map Mastery by Tony Buzan is the most important book in the world!
The Future Of Mind Mapping Begins With The Past
Tony Buzan begins Mind Map Mastery with a short history.
And in case you’re wondering, yes, “history” is the right word.
Buzan has been teaching the skills of mind mapping for quite some time. Just check out this video from 1974:
This video is from the same year Use Your Head appeared. This is what one of its many book covers looked like:
As he explains in the latest book we’re discussing today (released 44 years later!), the Mind Map emerged from an understanding of the brain as a spatial arrangement of neurons.
But That Realization Didn’t Happen Overnight!
And Buzan drew upon other influences to arrive at this powerful conclusion. For example:
Buzan’s understanding of the method of loci was integrated into mind mapping.
Buzan also encountered the Major System from day one of university.
(The Major is also spatial in many ways. More on that with these 3 Powerful Memory Techniques For Memorizing Numbers.)
With the method of loci that underlies the Memory Palace technique and the Major, Tony Buzan brought the first Mind Map to life.
Yet… there was a problem!
How Tony Buzan Solved Problems With The Early Mind Map
As Buzan reflects, his first Mind Maps had problems.
In his words, they were “monochromatic, monotone and monotonous.”
Worse… he struggled to answer this question:
Is Mind Mapping Note-Taking?
In short, no. Far from it.
In essence, Buzan had revolutionized note-taking.
But for Buzan, this was not good enough. So Tony Buzan did what all great innovators do:
He showed the technique to others, particularly learners left behind by the system.
Next, Buzan observed how these learned used his early mind maps to improve their lives.
Finally, Buzan took his observations back to the Mind Mapping process so he could improve the technique.
How Tony Buzan Mind Maps Mimic The Organic
Brain Better Than Any Software
As we know from many great geniuses, solvitur ambulando.
That phrase means, “it is solved by walking.” Here’s how I memorized that term:
And solve the problems with mind mapping by walking is exactly what Tony Buzan did:
To help himself understand more about why his early Mind Maps were helping people, he walked in nature.
As a result, thoughts about how to better “mirror” the cellular nature of the brain on paper emerged.
Observing the Mind Maps combined with walking and reflecting led to revelations about “Radiant Thinking.”
By giving people a means of connecting thoughts on paper like the brain connects ideas through cells, Mind Mapping broke free from note-taking.
Like the brain when it is operating at its full power, “Radiant Thinking” through Mind Mapping is:
- Verbal and Pictorial
- Imaginative and Analytical
Isn’t that exciting! Imagine being able to think in these ways all at the same time without the costs of multi-tasking!
The good news is this:
Tony Buzan Use Your Head Secrets Mixed With The Laws Of Mind Mapping
For all of these accomplishments, there was still a problem…
No matter how clear the instructions…
Some people are teaching Mind Mapping without understanding the method.
Instead of following the Laws of Mind Mapping, they are calling other techniques like these mind maps:
- Spider Diagrams
- Pyramid Diagrams
- Concept Maps
- Fishbone Diagrams
- Sunburst Charts
To be clear:
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None Of These Techniques Count As Mind Maps!
Look, there’s nothing wrong with using such visualizations, but to call them Mind Maps can never mirror the human brain cell.
Think about it:
What does a spider have to do with mind mapping? With human thought? With human memory?
Spiders are fantastic, but if we know one thing about human memory and learning going back to Ad Herrenium, it’s that metaphors matter.
For that, I’m glad Tony Buzan wrote Mind Map Mastery to help correct the record.
He reminds us of the Laws of Mind Mapping. He refocuses our attention on why they mirror the neuron, the central location of thought.
The Natural Reason Why Mind Maps Must Have A Central Image
Like a brain cell, a Mind Map must have a center. Without a central image, your Mind Map has no focus.
Without color, the Mind Map lacks power. Imagine going on a walk through nature in black and white.
A Fishbone Diagram built from straight-lines has nothing to do with the curves of human thought.
Concept Maps are usually overloaded with words (I am often guilty of this). As a result, they quickly become unwieldy, awkward and collapse.
Without care for balance and distribution, a Pyramid Diagram places your focus on concentrated areas. These do not help your brain create new solutions or remember more.
Would You Like An Abundance Of Mind Mapping Examples?
Tony Buzan demonstrates the validity of his claims with nearly two dozen examples.
The images in Mind Map Mastery are just as they should be:
- Keyword focused
- Understandable at a glance
- Easy to emulate as you create your own
How Mind Map Mastery Helped Me Improve My Practice
To be honest, I’m like a lot of learners.
I get a few tips and put them haphazardly into play.
This is NOT a problem.
If anything, it is a blessing.
But no serious, mature learner can stop there.
You’ve got to return to the well of knowledge and refine your practice.
Here’s a Mind Map example from 2015 shortly after I met Tony Buzan at a ThinkBuzan training.
Then I recorded a chat with Phil Chambers about how to combine Mind Maps with Memory Palaces.
So, what’s the problem here?
After all, I used this Mind Map to:
* Write a book
* Turn the book into a video course
* Launch the course successfully with Jonathan Levi.
(This Mind Map is the first brainstorm of what became Conquering Content in Branding You Academy.)
Yet, for all that success, there are quite a few problems.
The Whole Mind Map Is Overloaded (For One Thing)
Yes, there are colors, but…
I had attended the ThinkBuzan training to learn about memory.
We did a bit of Mind Mapping, but I was so focused on the memory aspect (and not embarrassing myself) that not all the lessons got through.
And I’m just one of those learners who need to go back to the well and refine my practice through repeat exposure. For this reason, I still reread one book per month.
But… I had yet to go back to THE ultimate book on mind mapping I’d read as a kid. This lapse happened mainly because I was revisiting Buzan’s books on memory.
And I hadn’t quite learned enough Chinese to read him in Mandarin, even if he was suddenly following me everywhere!
My lack of attention to the Laws of Mind Mapping was tragic. It meant that I wasn’t getting nearly the results that I could have been.
So even though my mind mapping was successful, it was still dampened.
Then came the incredible announcement of Mind Map Mastery. I ordered it immediately.
The wait inspired me to revisit Mind Mapping in earnest.
Perhaps pretentiously, I released this video:
But what I’m talking about wasn’t advanced at all!
Though there is one virtue evident in every word I speak in the video.
I was advancing my skills and practice by taking it one S.I.P. at a time (study, implement, practice).
Then, when Mind Map Mastery finally arrived, I started reading it.
I applied what it said, and before you know it, my Mind Maps improved!
Here’s a Mind Map example from one of the best YouTube Livestreams I’ve ever held:
(If you want to watch this replay and join future live streams, here’s the memory improvement books ultimate list hangout replay for you. Click subscribe and choose to be notified so you can join us next time we go live.)
What Made This Mind Map Better Than Any I’d Created Before?
The answer is simple. I just followed…
How to Mind Map Using The 10 Laws Of Mind Mapping
One: Blank paper in the landscape orientation.
Why is blank paper so important?
I believe it’s because the chemical makeup of the brain is more closely related to paper than, say, computer.
Also, the inner landscape of the mind is unlined. If you use lined paper, you are placing a barrier between your thoughts and the laws of mind mapping.
Landscape orientation is critical too because we see the world horizontally more than vertically. Peripheral vision is freer left-right than it is up and down.
I also believe landscape orientation allows for greater mirroring of another essential structure:
The clock. It is the clock formation that lets us instantly turn any Mind Map into a Memory Palace at a glance.
Two: Draw a central image in the center.
Tony Buzan says that the central image should feature at least three colors.
It’s a subtle point and one that I’ve missed many times. I look forward to putting it into practice many times in the future and observing the improvements.
The image should express your core concern with the Mind Map.
Three: Different images should appear throughout the Mind Map.
You should also use dimensions, such as drawing some of your keywords in 3D.
Four: Keywords should be capitalized.
For some reason, this is one of the toughest laws for me to follow. Maybe I read too much e..e. cummings when I was in high school. 😉
Five: Each Keyword should have its own “branch.”
This Law helped me squeeze far more from my Mind Maps.
It’s counterintuitive for a wordy sound-conceptual person like myself.
But the constraint works because it creates pressure on the keyword and your mind.
Think of it this way:
When you look at a clump of sentences and start reading, you’re assisting your memory in a way that turns it off.
Why should you remember what your Mind Map encoded when you can just read what you said?
But when you have a keyword, you give your brain a creative memory workout. This minimally assisted response to keywords is brain exercise par excellence.
Six: Your Branches Should Flow And Taper
If you look at an image of your brain’s neural networks, you’ll see precisely the tapering Buzan wants you to benefit from when creating your Mind Maps.
This law isn’t dogma. This correspondence to nature isn’t the totalitarianism of a control freak.
It’s the firm insistence that Mind Mapping mirrors your brain on the page. The closer you bring your mind and the Mind Map together in structure and flow, the more your creativity and memory perform.
Seven: Balance The Length Of Your Branches
The point about balance is another recommendation that needs more of my attention. But I think by following the other suggestions, adherence to this one happens naturally.
Eight: Use A Ton Of Colors
When I got back into Mind Mapping, I struggled with this as well.
After all, choosing colors can create a bit of decision anxiety. Questions like these might arise:
- Which color should I use?
- Is green really appropriate for this idea?
- What if I make a mistake?
Sure, there’s a reason the brain pumps out these concerns. Barbara Oakley explains it well in Mindshift.
But if you dive in and start to practice the Mind Map technique, you’ll find you automatically make the right decisions.
Nine: Emphasize Points With Arrows And Lines
Connecting the different branches with arrows is one of my favorite parts.
For me, it’s like a “meta” Mind Map and corresponds with the Rhizomatic nature of the Magnetic Memory Method.
These measures, when combined, kick De Bono’s lateral thinking up a serious notch.
Ten: Maximize The Clarity Of Blank Space/White Space
Perhaps the most compelling Law involves the use of blank space for clarity.
In other words, you need to let your Mind Maps breathe. I never used to do this, which slowed me down.
How To Continually Improve Your Mind Mapping Practice
To improve, I just started creating more Mind Maps.
As with the Magnetic Memory Palace Network, you benefit more (and faster) by working with multiples.
This approach gives Mind Maps and Memory Palaces more space for your brain to fill-in-the-gaps.
This pointer also circles back to Buzan’s point that the Mind Map should be useful at a glance. If there is no breathing room and no blank space, you stifle your success.
But when you leave enough space between your branches:
“Your brain negotiates these gaps to understand where you are and where you are going. “
How To Bring The Mind Map, Major System and Memory Palace Together
First of all, don’t even get started unless you are on the path with well-formed Mind Maps.
Yes, I have some discoveries to share. And yes, they will work without precision.
But if I could turn back the hands of time and start all over again, I would have my Mind Mapping strategy in order first. Especially in the context of these sensory memory exercises.
That cautionary note aside, here’s what you can do if you know the Major Method:
Once you have that committed to memory and are fluent in using the Major:
- Imagine that your blank page is a clock. Limit yourself to twelve branches or less.
- Create your central image and radiate your twelve branches from the center starting at 12 o’clock.
- Since the Major System tells most of us that 1 is D or T and 2 is N, mentally impose or draw that symbol at the 12 o’clock. Do this after you’ve created the branch.
Not: Personally, I never draw my Tin Tin image. That’s where the Keyword goes.
- After you complete the branch, think about how your Keyword can interact with your Major System image.
For example, if my keyword is “Ancient Greece” and my sub-branches involve Thales and Simonides, I will think of them all in a fistfight with Tin Tin.
But more than think of them, I will use all the Magnetic Modes to “Magnetize” them into my memory. To make the relationship between the Mind Map and the Memory Palace “Magnetic,” I will touch upon the Magnetic Memory Method Principle of CAV KOG(S) and the Magnetic Modes:
- Conceptual Magnetic Mode
- Auditory Magnetic Mode
- Visual Magnetic Mode
- Kinesthetic Magnetic Mode
- Olfactory Magnetic Mode
- Gustatory Magnetic Mode
The Spatial Magnetic Mode, i.e. the Memory Palace, which in this case is the Mind Map itself!
- Move on to the next branch.
As you can see, bringing the Mind Map together with the Major and the Memory Palace helps learning.
The Mind Map Mastery-Magnetic Memory Method Fusion helps teaching too.
The Empowering Truth Of Mind Maps For Kids
This point about the use of Mind Maps for teaching is essential.
Many people email me with questions about how to teach techniques like these to kids.
Learn them for yourself. Develop your own Mind Mapping and Mnemonic Style.
Demonstrate the skills you’d like young people to learn.
Involve them in the process.
Make Mind Mapping a family activity. Like I did, when I went to meet the man himself:
Sadly, Tony died in 2019. Here’s the tribute live stream we held in his honor:
Despite the sad passing of this hero of mental literacy, he lived a good life and demonstrated incredible brain health and mental literacy until the end.
And no doubt. There’s good reason to believe that Mind Mapping can help stave off problems like dementia and Alzheimer’s after all.
And once you’ve read and started using the ideas in Mind Map Mastery, add more from the Tony Buzan library to your expertise. The knowledge he created is evergreen and will be useful to you forever.
Other Tony Buzan Books You’ll Find Useful
Here are some of the other books by Tony Buzan I highly recommend in addition to Mind Map Mastery:
To be clear:
The more you read on the topic of mind mapping, the better your mind maps will serve your memory, thinking, creative and professional goals.
Have I Made My Mind Maps Perfect Using Tony Buzan Mind Mapping?
No, of course not.
We are playing a game of progression, not perfection.
And as Buzan points out many times, when you follow the Mind Mapping Laws, you’ll develop your own style.
This point is important because “style” is precisely the outcome of the application of rules.
Think about fashion. You only have a fashion style when you know the foundational techniques of combining color with texture.
Think about music. You only have a style of music when you pick the right mode and use the right scales.
Think about movies. Directors and actors only properly create a genre or style when they understand the underlying principles and structures of the Western, Science Fiction or Action movie.
Likewise with Mind Mapping. And the more I practice following the rules, the more my style emerges.
The more you allow your style to emerge based on the laws, the more useful the Mind Maps you create will become.
Why The Ultimate Map Map Software Is Always At Your Fingertips
Mind Mapping works because it helps you mimic the creative brain on the page.
Sure you can waste your time searching for how to make a Mind Map in Word.
You can ponder until you’re blue in the voice whether or not Evernote can function as a Mind map.
But speculation and limited Mind Map “tools” that deviate from the Mind Mapping Laws will only get you measly results.
And as Buzan once said during dinner to me, “The Rules will set you free.”
Shakespeare knew this to be true when he submitted himself to iambic pentameter.
Painters follow the laws of color day in and day out.
Musicians cheerfully lock themselves inside of scales without complaint. All of them must have known these visualization exercises.
So why not let the Laws of Mind Mapping set your free?
Which Mind Map Software Is the Best?
Seriously. You are the best software on the planet for improving your creativity and memory skills.
After all, if we take the computer-brain metaphor to its extreme conclusion, both involve information chemically encoded in space.
In order for your computer to pump out a near-infinity of possible outcomes, it needs to follow rules.
And as I hope I’ve demonstrated today, the only Mind Map worth making is the one that follows the rules.
And Tony Buzan has accomplished the miraculous with his iMind Map Software.
When you read the book, you’ll see just how authentically Buzan has made this work. And just how wonderfully he’s going to evolve it as information technology evolves.
Mind Mapping = Digital Fasting Vs. Digital Amnesia
But if you want my not-so-humble, but always Magnetic two-cents, I’m sticking with colored pens and paper.
I believe it is faster, more human and more likely to connect with the Memory Palace technique by doing so.
Not only that, but I like taking long breaks from the computer.
And I predict that Digital Fasting is going to continue being the ultimate cure for Digital Amnesia.
So here’s what I recommend:
- Get a copy of Mind Map Mastery today.
- Put the Laws of Mind Mapping into practice immediately.
- Then come back to this post. Learn the Major System if you don’t already know it and try the “clock” technique I shared today.
Then let me know in the comments below just how excited you are by the results.
Happy Mind Mapping!