The 7 Buzan ‘Laws’
Tony Buzan started his journey as psychology professor and over the past 40+ years has developed a very clear understanding of how brain science underpins the use and application of Mind Maps. Like all ‘Guru’s’ he holds strongly held opinions about the “very best” way to create and apply mind maps.
Accordingly, the following ‘Laws’ represents what is defined as Buzan style Mind Mapping. Of course there may be other ways to do visual thinking, just as there are many different styles of martial arts. Buzan Style is firmly grounded on lots of solid neuro-physiological and psychological research and 40+ years of experience from the acknowledged world authority and inventor of Mind Maps.
The 7 Rules of Mind Maps
1. Start in the CENTRE of a blank page turned sideways. Why?
Fundamental to mind mapping is radial thinking with ideas and associations spreading out from a central idea (your focus for the Mind Map). Linear lists and boxes create artificial limits to the process of association and a radial diagram will likely reveal links and ‘ah-ha’s’ that may not be apparent in a list (or pages of lists!).
2. Use an IMAGE or PICTURE for your central idea. Why?
Because an image is worth a thousand words, better represents a concept and helps you use your imagination. A central image is more interesting to your brain, keeps you focused, helps you concentrate, and gives your brain more of a buzz! Also see Law 7!!
3. Use COLORS throughout. Why?
Because colors are exciting to your Brain. It’s been proven that they also form strong association with words and concepts so create stronger neural paths when forming memories and new concepts. Color also provide the opportunity to generate categorization within your map to define stronger recall of the concepts in your thinking. It adds extra vibrancy and tremendous energy to your Creative Thinking, and most of all is fun!
4. CONNECT your MAIN BRANCHES to the central image and connect your second- and third-level branches to the first and second levels, etc. Why?
Your Brain works by association. It is incredibly powerful and it likes to link two (or three, or four) things together as it creates new neural pathways in your thought process. If you connect the branches, you will understand and remember a lot more easily. Once your map starts to grow, use the opportunity to zoom out on your map (see the Big Picture!) and see associations across the map and create links.
5. Make your branches CURVED rather than straight-lined. Why?
Straight lines are boring and limiting to your Brain. Curves and, even the act of creating curves, is immensely satisfying and pleasing to our brains. Look at the use of curved design in product design and you will see this well understood psychological principle is very broadly adopted.
6. Use ONE KEY WORD PER LINE. Why?
Words are hugely powerful and flexible constructs in our cognitive thought process. As soon as we combine them they become focused and more limiting. Therefore while working to be creative and ideating, single words per branch free up your ability to free associate the words and see links across your map that may not have been apparent if you limit yourself to phrases, sentences or paragraphs. Ever play the free association word game….exactly! The results can be inspiring.
7. Use IMAGES throughout. Why
Because each image, just like the central image, is also worth a thousand words. So if you have only 10 images in your Mind Map, it’s already the equal of 10,000 words of notes! We also have strong recall of images and collages of images. Using them to reinforce a concept represented by a main branch or a sub-branch provide reinforcement to your associated memory. In addition the process of creating images or even choosing images for a computerized mindmap switches your brain from focused to difuse thinking which is when your most insightful and creative “ah-ha” moments often come