Using Mind maps for Life and Law
As a Mature law student I always sit in the first row in lectures.
A lot of the younger students smile and I am sure they think ‘ah bless the oldies,they always sit in the front row’ but it’s not that raises a smile from them its the lecture notes I take that make which cause a few raised eyebrows.
You see I don’t do lecture notes.
Instead I use mind maps.
I first found out about mind maps in the 80’s when I was taking notes in the office.I was asked to take notes in a meeting that I would later try to transfer into minutes.
Remembering the people’s names and exactly what had been said was a nightmare.
I read a book by an extraordinary fellow Tony Buzan called “Use your Head’ and WOW , it transformed the way I worked and in fact It changed everything about the way I recorded information and recalled information.
A mind map for me helped me to categorises information and instead of recoding it in a linear fashion I cheat yes it feels like cheating as I draw pictures, colours,circles and the notes that I know only I will understand.
When I started studying law in 2005 it was exactly the same . Every lecture I sat in the front row and whilst everyone else opened their lined pad I turned my on it side and draw a circle in the centre.The Topic.
The most important thing for me in lectures was not to try to scribble as much information as possible but instead it made more sense for me to use two things – My ears.
The sounds of furious scribbling could be heard around me yet I sat attentively looking at the Professor delivering the lecture.
A quick picture , a coloured pen a reminder of what had been said took half the time of trying to scribble down everything said.
I carried my mind mapping into my personal life too and began mind mapping: Shopping list,to do lists,goals,book reviews,essay preparation.I mind mapped my 10,000 dissertation in law on a sheet of wall paper and typed it up in a weekend.
When I attend at a court to watch a case or with an Advocate I always mind map whats happening.This is for My benefit as it helps me to recall the information exactly the way my brian works.
So using Mindmaps to record information is one use.What you Do with the mind map once you have it is another.Revisiting the mind map is amazing.I was initially surprised at how much I remembered just form one small picture of ‘the sun’ or a shirt and Tie.It is easy to follow the logical progression and helps to group ideas .For instance if a mind map with the top of Law in the centre one might draw branches for : Private law, criminal law,corporate law etc.Having set out the initial structure it is easy to slot in notes and heading into each of the branches.
Writting an academic essay from a mind is easy as you can choose how to structure before you start with branches for introduction , conclusion and body of text or you can use the branches for case law with abbreviations for citation.
Revising for exams became less stressful and also easier with mind maps as you only need one page which covers whole areas of subjects .At a glance a whole complicated subject comes to life in a colour picture.You can of course make it as colourful as you like and I tend to doodle too.
During my Undergrad degree I suffered from some serious health problems during the first year and my concentration was impaired and i found that it was difficult to remember lines upon lines of information especially case names.Making MY notes interesting , colourful helped me to revise and pass all of my exams in law.
I mind map my day every day with different branches for different areas of my life.I mind map my twitter lists on a Friday as i prepare to list all the people i recommend.I mind map my diet, the household schedule and my budget.I mind map my legal research and my activities at work.
When I am competing in a Legal moot , I mind map all my submissions and presentations and have won time and time again.
Not only do I use mind maps every day but I actually think in terms of a mind map now allow me to flit between different areas of my life, academic study, work, my kids, art, philosophy.I use mind maps for life and for law why don’t you try it.
I have tried various different types of software but always revery back to a pen and pad and my own creative talents.
Here are some examples of different styles of mind maps there is not set way, just do your own design and as long as its something that you will remember then it will work.http://mappio.com/
I did not stop at mindmapping and moved on to speed reading and memory enhancing techniques but that is another Blawg post all together.
For other discussion on mindmaps I would recommend the following books
By TonyBuzanUse your Head
Use your Memory
The Mind Map Book
The illustrated Mind Map book
How to Mind Map
Mind Maps for Kids
Audio Tapes – Mind Mapping Natural Genius
For more discussion on mind maps my good friend Gavin Ward @WardBlawg has some interesting views and I would recommend having a look.
I will be uploading some of my many mind maps over the next few
some excellent mindmapping techniques can also be found at mastermindmaps.wordpress.com created by Hans Buskes