Mind mapping is a wonderful technique to learn, process, remember and visualize any information.
You can learn any information faster than the traditional method of rote learning. It takes less effort and helps you retain efficiently.
Tony Buzan introduced this concept as an alternative to getting a conventional way of scanning information (i.e. from left to right we read the text).
However, this technique was used by Greeks, Leonardo Da Vinci and others in similar forms. Buzan is credited with popularizing the technique.
How mind maps work?
Our mind works as a network of neurons connected to each other transmitting information. You can think of the mind as the Internet.
Our ability to reflect and understand greatly depends on our imagination and ability to create close associations between things we learn.
Mindmaps works on both these aspects reworking brain to better visualize and create close associations with things you learn.
How to make mind maps?
Identify the central topic or most important issue. It becomes your central topic, main idea. For students who are preparing for exams, the chapter which your reading is usually the central topic.
Here as an example, I have used Disasters as a central topic:
In this step, you are addressing why, how and perhaps definitions of the central topic and most relevant information related to it.
In the image below, I have defined what disaster is.
In the third step, you are addressing the modalities/types/variables of the central topic.
Here in the image, there are primarily two types of disasters Natural and Man-made.
In the 4th step, you include suggestions, possibilities or structure of a central topic. You can use other important details to connect to the central topic.
In this step, I have explained mitigation and management.
In the final steps see if you require any examples or events that are associated with your central topic. Also see if any of the details are correlated, if yes, then connect them together.
Here, I have mentioned examples of both natural and man-made disasters. Also, I have connected drought to both Man-made and natural disasters category.
This is a generic framework, a step by step process, to guide you on How to make Mind maps if you are confused where to start and what to write where.
You can customize it, as per your need. It’s not fixed or successive, you can start from any step.
Mind maps will help efficiently manage your information and present to you in a way which results in the least effort and interactive way to remember information.
Books are gateways to understanding language, exploring ideas, improving linguistic cognition and increasing imagination. However, many times we forget what we read. We all wish that we could get more out what we read. This becomes apparent when we either should read a book to prepare for test or work on self-development goals or improve ourselves.
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Be it any case we all wish to get more out books we read. Here some hacks to get most of what we read in the first time itself.
1. Reading a book entails most importantly what you want to get out it. So, ask yourself what are your topics and areas of concern which you have currently embarked on. Write it down on a piece of paper. If you don’t know where to begin a good place to start would be previous years’ test papers.
2. Read the preface and index very carefully to see topics and areas of concern are matching list you just wrote. Now, mark the topics given in the list in the book you are wanting to read.
3. Understand what must be done first. Number the list in form of priority of what must be done first. If no such priority is there then read from the initial topic that is marked in the book.
4. Read with pencil not marker as with a pencil you can write on the book there itself. Underline what you feel is important for your exam. If terms aren’t explained well then write meanings of those terms, there itself between spaces given in the text. One can use arrows to highlight super important terms or concepts.
5. Use of stick notes to highlight important topics or highlight important chapters. This essentially allows one to visit the important chapters and concepts during exam time.
6. Make short notes of the facts and details which are useful for examination. So that your revision of facts and details are crisp and fast which will allow you to retain more facts.
7. After going through the book one time. You now have underlined what is important, written important details in between text, used stick notes to highlight important concepts and chapters and written most of the facts as short notes. Now you must prioritize and revise accordingly.
This is how your book should be looking after reading it:
This will allow you ease of access and strengthen your ability to grasp more out of the book your reading. Next time when you’re in need to revise or go back to book to look for essential information, you can easily get it as you know where to find what you are looking for.
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Memory is an important tool for understanding, reflecting, producing, reprocessing, various tasks most important of which is in one’s studies/ examination.
Sometimes when we go from our room to the kitchen with some intention we forget why we came to the kitchen in the first place. This probably has happened to most of us. Thankfully new research has enabled us to better learn and memorize terms.
Here are 10 hacks to enable you to memorize better:
1. Learning only what is important: our memory works in a way that it rejects some information and absorbs mostly which we produce or process. Hence underlining/highlighting can reduce mental effort to recognize what is important.
2. Spaced repetition: Spaced Repetition is a hack which can be used to acquire a lot of information and keep it retained in your long-term memory bank. How it works is as follows:
· Read a topic once
· Then revise it after 2 hours of learning/reading.
· Then revise it the next day. (24 hours)
· After a week.
· After a month.
3. Memory works best with associations: Memory works best with an association. If you are learning anything to remember to try to associate with whatever you have learned in past. This automatically reduces mental effort to remember something.
4. Auditory and Visual learning: Reading is not the only way one can absorb or remember. One can listen to information and imbibe It, for example in classrooms teachers often use visual aids to help remember. One can see informative videos or listen to information in form of audiobooks. Psychological research has proved that in some individuals the capacity for visual/auditory learning dominates over reading.
5. Take breaks: Research has shown that breaks improve memory formations. However, should be no more then 10 mins at a time. Above that will qualify for procrastination or time wastage. These breaks should be taken in between learning process.
6. Make notes: This is very important and a classic one. We have heard our parents/ teachers saying, ‘read and write’. But none of them ever explained why writing was important. When writing we are reprocessing and reproducing information this strengthens synapses in our brain. Writing something in your own words helps in retaining vital information.
7. Rehearsal: It is one of the best ways to remember something is trying to remember when going for a walk. This works on the principle of recalling where it strengthens our syntactical connections whereby it becomes easy to remember.
8. Understanding: Rote learning is based on repetition without understanding the text/information and is, therefore, an ineffective way to learn. Research has shown that understanding what we learn on a deeper level can reduce our time memorizing something. Hence understanding is key to memorizing.
9. Memory palace: This is one of the most effective techniques and a time-tested one. This technique has been used by competitors in World Memory Championship. In this one places information in his “palace”, this palace can be anything in one’s mind example his house, a place, room or it can be a series of events.
How to use memory palace? For example, if one must learn the names of all the major oceans of the world. One can associate his/her drawing room with the Pacific Ocean, corridor with the Atlantic Ocean, rooms with Antarctic and Arctic ocean. This way when one visits his drawing room which is biggest of all rooms will be the Pacific Ocean, the corridor would constitute figuratively Atlantic Ocean and rooms which both on top and bottom be the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans.
10. Mnemonics: Its always easier to create meaningful acronyms. This improves recollection. This can essentially help to memorize facts and figures (data which is hard to associate).
These hacks can better enable you to work, process – reprocess information and produce information during exam time. They also have less mental strain and will reduce working hours at the same time improving one’s productivity.