In this workflow video, we’re going to take a look at one of my favorite uses for mind maps, which is for taking notes on the books that you read. I prefer to read physical books, and I take notes in a MindNode mind map usually on my iPhone. I don’t try to recreate every argument or document everything that the author says, but I do try to maintain the structure of the book and capture the key ideas that jump out to me. This allows me to go back and review my mind map, instead of having to reread the entire book, when I want to review the information.
The first thing is to put the book title in the main node in the middle. I actually go into Safari, do a Google image search, and copy and paste a picture of the book because I like the way that this looks visually. Next, I’ll create a child node for each section of the book. We’ve got four of them here.
The first one is this orange one way up here. This is the section on marginless living. This is kind of the introduction to the book. There’s a couple things to note here. Number one, I document all of the chapters in the book as I go through the different sections. The chapters are indicated by the number, then a parentheses, then the chapter title.
The second thing you’ll see here is that I’ve got several emojis that I use to indicate different types of information as we go. This is a system that I’ve landed on myself over several years of taking notes this way in a mind map. If I were to do this now, I might use the tags instead because tags would allow you to highlight all of the nodes that had a certain tag applied, but at this point, this is just second nature for me to add these emojis as I go on the iOS keyboard on my iPhone. So, the key emoji denotes a key idea from the book, which is “pain in the absence of margin are related.”
Then the next section, this blue node, is part one. The problem: pain, and again, I’ve got a child node for each chapter in this section. So, the first one here is the pain of progress. Then as we go, we’ve got the pain of problems, and we see several different emojis here.
The light bulb icon, this is something that I use to indicate moments of inspiration or things that I learned. For example, now that we’ve exceeded so many limits, we have no margin at all. This was kind of a tipping point in my thinking, as I realized the importance of margin, so I denoted that with the light bulb icon. Above this, in chapter two, we have a talking head. This indicates a talking point. So, this book I actually read for my Bookworm Podcast and the talking head icon indicates a talking point that I wanted to discuss with my podcast co-host when we covered this.
The word bubble indicates a quote that I want to remember, from page 30 for example. “Progress’ biggest failure has been its inability to nurture and protect right relationships.” Again, you can kind of see how I’m creating the structure of the book, but I’m not trying to recreate everything that’s in the book. Another thing that I’ll do is I will use the iPhone camera to snap pictures of any diagrams that I think are important. So, instead of trying to describe what the author is saying here regarding the human function curve, I use the camera to take a picture of it instead. Then I have that as a reference.
Let’s move on to the next section, which is this purple section, “part two: the prescription,” which is margin. Again, we’ve got a structure here of talking points, inspiration points, and key ideas. One additional emoji that you’ll see here is this mind blown emoji. This is for a statistic that kind of blew me away. It says every year Americans spend more eating out than the individual gross national product of 207 countries in the world. I don’t use this emoji often, but when I do, it indicates that this is something that really impacted me.
Another thing that I’ll use here is the tasks in my note to indicate action items. These are things that I want to apply to my life, so in this case I’ve got two of them listed here. The first one is a media fast. As I go through this book, Margin by Richard Swenson, I recognize that I’m consuming a lot of information, and I want to curb that a little bit and create some margin for creating instead, so I add a task to that node and document it with the title of action item.
The next one is a question. This is a question that I asked myself. Doesn’t really have a definition of done associated with it, but it means it’s something that I want to consider. That is the question. Am I interrupted? Because right below that we see the thing that inspired me was that usefulness is nine tenths availability. I want to be available to be interrupted for the people that are important to me. I don’t want to be so consumed with what I’m doing, and so that’s the way I would document that inside of these book notes.
Again, we’ve got a lot more information here, some additional diagrams, another section — “part three, the prognosis health,” and you can see how this gives me a very condensed version of the book that I can go back and review later when I want to. I can also access this from the outline view by tapping the outline button here in the toolbar, and this gives me a full outline view of the entire contents of the book. Plus, it’s in order, so as we go we can see everything as I documented it. And the search bar makes it easy to find specific things. So, if I wanted to find all my action items from this book, for example, I can search for action item. There’s my three action items and tapping on these I can go straight to them in my mind map.
Must-Have, Most-Used Apps for Thinkers
We spend an inordinate amount of time sorting through hundreds of apps to find the very best. Our team here at The Sweet Setup put together a short list of our must-have, most-used apps for writing, note-taking, and thinking.