How To Brainstorm By Yourself

If you don’t have the luxury of others to brainstorm with, one technique you can use is mind mapping. Mind mapping, used for centuries, is a graphical way of recording, organizing, and displaying your thought process. It is a simple and fun tool for doing solo creative problem solving.

How To Make Your Own Mind Map

  1. Gather a bunch of (colored) pens and paper. Alternatively, you can use one of a myriad of mind mapping software packages. For me, pen and paper is more portable and directly tactile. Others may prefer using software to record their thoughts. The software packages’ resulting mind maps can be much more legible.
  2. Identify the core word (or phrase) you want to mind map.
  3. Write the core idea in the center of the paper (you can write ideas in the mind map using words, icons, or small pictures – whatever is most natural).
  4. What immediate ideas spring from this core idea? For each idea, draw a (colored) line radiating from the core idea and label the line with the idea. The colored pens can be used to color code each of these branches.
  5. Looking at each of these newly written ideas, what ideas spring from these? Continue branching organically, allowing yourself to bounce from one idea to another, remembering to maintain the color-coding of the core branches. Key ideas/milestones may be further indicated with small pictures.

Example Core Idea: “Business Networking Opportunities”

Further Reading

An overview of mind mapping

A brief introduction to mind-mapping, written by a college guidance counselor, with emphasis on using mind mapping to help you find a job.

A free online mini-course on making mind maps

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