Using Mind Mapping For Problem-Solving

Mind Mapping for Problem-Solving

Image by Freepik

Mind Mapping is a tool that can be used for multiple things: brainstorming. planning, notetaking, simplifying or unpacking ideas, organizing ideas, making attractive presentations, and more. The focus of this article is using Mind Mapping for problem solving.

Some background on Mind Mapping

Before we look at this specific use for it, I want to address a question you may have: Why does Mind Mapping work? In a mind map, information is structured in a way that mirrors exactly how the brain functions – in a radiant rather than linear manner. In fact one of the early books by Tony Buzan who popularized the tool was The Mind Map Book: How to Use Radiant Thinking to Maximize Your Brain’s Untapped Potential. This is a great description:

“It literally ‘maps’ out your thoughts, using associations, connections, and triggers to stimulate further ideas. They make it easier to extract your ideas from your head into something visible and structured.

Research shows that the brain likes to work on the basis of association, and it will connect every idea, memory or piece of information to tens, hundreds and even thousands of other ideas and concepts. This is why mind maps are beneficial for countless tasks.” Why mind mapping works: the benefits of mind mapping – Ayoa Blog

(If you are new to mind mapping or need a refresher, you can look at two of my previous post: Mindmapping as a Multi-faceted Tool or Five Useful Applications of Mind Mapping . )

Why Mind Mapping is Good for Problem Solving

Why is Mind Mapping effective for creative problem solving? Because it lets you bypass your conscious mind and your reactions to having a problem to solve. That reaction is often to get stressed or anxious. Or both. Mind mapping avoids this issue.

Your mind map will be a visual map of an issue – in this case, a problem to be solved and all its constituent parts, that shows the linkages between all of them. It also shows connections between the problem and outside forces.

This visual ‘map’ lets you see a problem and all the things that go into it by simply glancing at it. It makes it easier to take in the information and see connections that might otherwise go unnoticed. Here are the steps to use mind mapping for problem-solving.

First Create A Mind Map for the PROBLEM

 Start by writing down the central problem or idea in as few words as possible. It goes in the center of the map. Put each additional issue down as a keyword or short phrase around the center and link them together with a line. This is known as a branch.

Do this for each component of the problem. You can use different colors or thicknesses of lines to indicate how important a branch is or how strong the connection is between the problem and its component. You can also use images instead of words. Consider outside forces that impact this issue and add them. Connect them to the keywords or phrases where they belong.

 This visual map allows you to use word association, which is an important method of problem-solving that cannot be used when writing out problems in long form. As you expand your map, additional thoughts will come.

Create A Second Mind Map for SOLUTIONS

This one will be slightly different. The central idea will simply be the word ‘Solutions.’ Write it down. Now, add branches for every possible solution you can think of. Add subbranches to these to include resources, people, and other components you would need to have to implement this solution. Again, use colors, thicknesses of lines and images.

You can add more branches to ideas you need to explore further as well. When you are finished, look over all the proposed solutions and select the best one(s) of them to explore further. Create a new mind map with to further explore details for putting your solution(s) into action.

Mind mapping is an incredibly powerful tool for problem-solving! It can help you find the best and most practical solution simply by looking at the visuals you have created. Give it a try and see how it works for you. Use it more than once to see the results for you.

Here are some items you may find helpful as you explore the tool or expand your use of it.

Mind Map Journal with Templates

Mind Map and Brainstorming Log Book with Multiple Templates


I’m Carol Brusegar, author, photographer and curator of information. My focus is on gathering and writing on topics that enhance all our lives – regardless of our age. Topics include health and wellness, personal development, innovation and creativity, and a variety of helpful, practical tools and practices. I have a special interest in helping people over 50 years of age to create their 3rd Age – the next stage of their lives – to be the best it can be. Visit my Amazon Author Page to find my published books:

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Using January as a Transition Month as We Enter a New Year

using January as a transition month

“The seasons they go round and round… We’re captive on the carousel of time…And  go round and round and round in the circle game.” (Carole King, “The Circle Game”)

It can certainly seem this way, can’t it?  One of the things that humans have developed to get off the carousel is the “new year” ritual of creating resolutions, plans and more. It indeed can be a point where we can assess, plan, regroup and get a fresh start. Using January as a transition month is really useful.

Here are a few things that I have found helpful. Choose one or more to start and decide what else you want to do.

1) Do a year-end review (and/or use reflection prompts to journal about the past year – see #2 below)

As one year ends and another begins, we have an opportunity to pause and decide how we want the next twelve months to be different than the past twelve AND what things we want to continue and increase. We don’t always have to make things different; we want to again enjoy good experiences too. Constantly pushing for better, bigger, more flashy can be exhausting and not at all fulfilling.

Use this 12 Month Review Journal (free to download right here) to help you to think beyond the obvious events or high/lowlights to some meanings and what was significant. These will be a good basis for other steps.

12 Month Review Journal

2) Use a series of End-of-Year Reflection prompts to help you recall and appreciate the past year. Spread them out – one or two a day – or do a blitz. Remember, using January as a transition month can be a great way to start the new year. Regrets that you didn’t do this sooner serve no purpose. Just do these things now and they will move you forward. Here’s a list of prompts; they may give you ideas for other topics to write about.

  • What were your top 3 biggest highlights of the year?
  • What is something new you are glad you tried?
  • What are some setbacks you had this year?
  • List your 5 best moments of the year.
  • List your 5 most challenging moments of the year.
  • What is the biggest lesson you learned?
  • What are some mistakes you made this year?
  • How was your personal growth?
  • In what ways are you a better person now?
  • What progress did you make on your goals?
  • How are your goals changing for next year?
  • When did you feel the most fulfilled this year?
  • How did you get out of your comfort zone?
  • What is something you wish you did this year?
  • List the shows and movies you loved.
  • What were your favorite books this year?
  • What are you most proud of yourself for?
  • Did you meet any interesting people?
  • List some new experiences you had this year.
  • How was your mental health this year?
  • What new activities did you try?
  • What are some of the most memorable moments?
  • What changes do you want to make next year?
  • How did you practice self-care?
  • What was the funniest moment?
  • What was the most embarrassing moment?
  • What was the scariest moment?
  • What was your biggest achievement this year?
  • How did you improve your health and wellness?
  • List what you are grateful for this year.

3) Imagine yourself at the end of this new year. What are you feeling, thinking, acknowledging and celebrating. Write a paragraph or two from that viewpoint: “It is December 2023. I am…. I acknowledge… I feel… I celebrate… These can be affirmations you use through the year.

REMINDER: USING JANUARY AS A TRANSITION MONTH does not mean you are “behind”-“late” or “negligent.” You are doing things to insure that this year is what you most desire and intend.

4) Choose a word or phrase for the year. This has become a very popular strategy that many people find useful. I’ve written about in detail in two previous posts: and

The essence of it is this: The goal is is to come up with one word that will give you MEANING, PURPOSE AND FOCUS for the year just beginning. The first step is to reflect on the past year and then think about this year. Writing, not just thinking, will be most helpful. (You have already done much of this if you did end-of-year reflections or used the 12 Month Review Journal described above.)

If you don’t already have it, grab the book that started it all here: One Word That Will Change Your Life

Go to sign up for the 2023 challenge and start getting emails that will keep you moving forward.

5) Create a Vision Board and/or a Vision Journal. Visuals are powerful! And vision boards are used by many people. Those big poster boards on a wall where you often see them can be effective.

There’s also the option of a vision journal. I wrote about that here . A vision journal is more of a dynamic tool which you can easily update or add to during the year. It includes more detail that can be an inspiration if you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed. And it’s portable.

Here’s a FREE downloadable Vision Journal for you to use: Free Vision Journal

Using January as a transition month is a powerful way to start this new year. While you are doing some or all the things above you will likely get inspired to move forward on things at the same time. We can simultaneously reflect and prepare and get going. I wish you all the best on this journey!

Check out these tools in my Etsy Shop:

  • End-of-the-Month Review Sheets so you can capture each month’s joys, accomplishments, learning and more.

  • Week-at-a-Glance Sheets are used at the beginning of the week to designate the priority tasks or events for each day. This gives you an overview to help you focus and avoid overwhelm.

I’m Carol Brusegar, author, photographer and curator of information. My focus is on gathering and writing on topics that enhance all our lives – regardless of our age. Topics include health and wellness, personal development, innovation and creativity, and a variety of helpful, practical tools and practices. I have a special interest in helping people over 50 years of age to create their 3rd Age – the next stage of their lives – to be the best it can be.           

Follow me on Twitter!  Follow me on Instagram!  Follow me on Pinterest

Follow me on Facebook!    Visit my Etsy Shop!