Simon Kolz

A weblog by Simon Kolz

Mind Mapping Your Journal Entries

Clustering, also called Mind Mapping, is a great way to save
space and time when you journal. For those of you that
aren’t familiar with Mind Mapping, you can search in Google
on the words or reading one of Tony Buzan’s (the creator)
books. At the end I’ve included the ten basic rules of Mind

A Mind Map is a powerful graphic technique that harnesses
words, images, numbers, logic, rhythm, color and spatial
skills. Unlike linear notes, it allows your mind to work
with expansion.

Mind Maps are an incredibly powerful memory tool. As I was
studying for my CPA exam, I created a very large detailed
Mind Map that covered several walls in my home office. When
I was taking the exam I could close my eyes and see the Mind
Map and go right to the answer.

We both know a picture says a thousand words. In Mind
Mapping, you can use one word to trigger a set of memories
or you can draw a picture (artistry doesn’t matter) that
represents a story or memory for you.

You can use the Mind Mapping or Clustering techniques to
record a single event or a whole day of events. If you are
working on time management, you can also use a Mind Map to
track time and tasks. For this, you will want to turn the
paper landscape, add a center picture, like a clock, and use
the branches pointing the same way as the clock’s hour —
noon or midnight would be straight up, one o’clock slightly
to the right of midnight, etc. The subbranches would be one
word representing your focus or task during that time.

After attending a personal development event or that evening
I like to reflect on my experience by drawing a Map from
what I recall. This is a great way to transfer my thoughts
from short term to long term memory. If I took notes I
choose one word or image that represents each though per
single branch for each area. When I remember a thought that
doesn’t connects clearly, I record a trigger word of what I
do remember along with a question mark right before I turn
in for the night. By morning I have the answer or a
complete picture that build on that Map. Sometimes the
morning also brings additional ideas or fuel for thought.

By keeping your Maps or Clusters in your journal — usually
all in one place — you can quickly review previous Maps to
build upon. Since Maps provide a master aerial view it’s
easier to see how the dots connect — the aha moments or
unmasking patterns. They stand out easier than in linear

Maps also shorten the journaling time. What might normally
take pages or an hour in linear writing now take 15 minutes.

Being creative and having fun with this technique is
important to the experience. Mapping encourages the use of
colored pencils, pens and the use of images in place of
words. My drawing skills haven’t improved since third grade
yet after a few hundred lopsided airplanes I can now draw
them from several angles. But I’m still sticking with stick

Ideas also count. Ideas always occur during our writing.
We’re writing away, an idea pings up and we either need to
try and hold it on the edge of our mind or record it
somewhere quickly before it slips away. Start a Map on a new
page, place the idea in the center of the page, then return
to finish the writing. You will find your mind popping in
and out from one to the next as you continue writing.

You can also keep a separate Map journal. Ever few years I
remember to buy a journal for that purpose. One of my
favorite Map journals is, Note Sketch Book by Bienfang. You
can order them in many places on the Net. Our local Staples
store usually carries them in stock. They are different
because the top portion of each page, about three-quarters,
is blank and ready for your Map. While the bottom portion
has lines for writing.

Of course, Maps and Clusters have many other uses — like
brainstorming (alone or in a group), research, reading,
studying, or memorizing. Thus, learning the technique is
worthy to learn. I use them for just about everything,
including the three books I’m working now.

Basic Rules for Mind Mapping:

1. Sheet sideways.

2. Pen or computer

3. Select topic, problem or subject and purpose.

4. Start in the center of the page.

5. Use color to trigger memory. Each separate main branch
has a different color and each subbranches for that main
branch stay that branches color.

6. Branches closest to the center are thicker.

7. Each idea starts a new branch.

8. Use images to express ideas whenever possible.

9. The image or word needs to sit on the line and in print.

10.The line needs to be the same length as the image or word.

(c) Copyright, Catherine Franz. All rights reserved.

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