Posted by: wordsmithsuk | October 26, 2010

Mind Mapping – a tool for concentration


Elsewhere on this blog, in my books and in my training workshops, I discuss the benefits of Mind Mapping. This tool enables the user to gather, organise, analyse and recall large amounts of information. And because Mind Mapping is easy and fun, it boosts confidence and helps people to discover what they are really capable of.

Another important benefit has recently occurred to me: Mind Mapping can help users to expand their ability to concentrate. Much of the value of any Mind Map stems from the conscious involvement of the creator as it is being drawn. You will notice that you become completely engrossed while you are creating your Mind Maps. You will enjoy the experience and derive a tremendous amount of satisfaction from getting involved in it.

What is concentration?

It’s vital to understand the concept of concentration because of its great importance in just about every aspect of our lives. Psychologists define concentration as a special form of disciplined, sustained attention. It involves narrowing the focus of our awareness so that the many things which normally distract us are not allowed to interfere. The whole of our consciousness can then become directed towards the one thing that we want to think about.

Why is it important to be able to concentrate?

We must concentrate to perform well in our work and studies.  Reading and absorbing information, remembering facts and ideas, writing emails, composing reports, contributing to meetings: all these activities depend on our ability to concentrate effectively for long periods of time. Even in our everyday lives we all need to concentrate— to avoid accidents, to find things, to listen to people, to get things done.

Why is it hard to concentrate?

Many people find that their mind wanders when they should be concentrating. One minute you’re reading a book, watching a film or listening to someone and the next you’re daydreaming about something you’re doing tomorrow or worrying about things you’ve forgotten.

But there is no reason to feel frustrated when this happens. It’s the nature of the mind to be unruly. The mind is constantly making associations,  jumping from one idea to another through myriads of links or memory paths. Everyone engages in this relaxing, creative process from time to time. Problems only occur when a lack of concentration interferes with our ability to get things done.

How to train the mind using Mind Maps

Although concentration doesn’t come naturally for most people, it is a skill that can be learned. And I’ve found that Mind Mapping is one of the best strategies for training the mind to concentrate better.

Exercise

You can perform this exercise any time you want to expand your ability to concentrate

Take any common word such as tree, water or holiday and write or draw it in the centre of a piece of paper. Then let your mind flow around this word and write or draw the first associated word or picture on a thick curved line connected to the central topic. Then add any second or third level ideas connected to this theme. Go back to the central topic and wait for another idea or picture to come to you. Write it down, unpack the second and third levels and then go back to the central topic as before.  Do this for five minutes or for as long as any associations come to mind.

This Mind Map is one that I drew when meditating on the concept of a tree. Click on the image to see the full sized map.

You also can do this as a mental exercise, without drawing the Mind Map. You’ll find that the discipline of holding onto a single idea for three to five minutes is great training for your concentration. Try it for a few days and see if your skills improve.

What are your tips for improving your ability to concentrate? Note them down here – I’d love to hear from you!

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Responses

  1. Hi there

    I just found your blog and will try your suggestion over the next few days. I feel like I can’t work hard any more since I left college (ironically, but i got used to sitting daydreaming for an hour at a time there!). I feel so useless and find it so hard to get my work done labouring over every word I write and all my thoughts are a cloud. Is that normal bad concentrator-ism or have I developed ADHD???

    I hope that you’re exercise helps and that I don’t stay this inefficient forever 😦

    Thanks, I will keep an eye on your blog for more interesting links and advice.

  2. Hello Michelle
    Thanks so much for your comment. It may be comforting to know that you are not alone! In a recent study psychologists found that people are distracted from the task at hand nearly half the time, and this daydreaming consistently makes them unhappy.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/nov/11/living-moment-happier

    So lots of people daydream when they should be paying attention (including me!) It is the nature of the mind to wander off – and this can be quite a creative activity. As long as it is not stopping us getting things done! There are lots of things we can do to improve our concentration – I do yoga and Mind Mapping and find these help. I will blog about some other ideas soon.

    Let me know how you get on.

  3. I´m looking for Mind Mapping and concentration ….but this article went written in Oct. 2010 . When can I find ” Elsewhere on this blog, in my books and in my training workshops, I discuss the benefits of Mind Mapping. ” THE OTHERS BENEFITS OF MINDMAPPING ….Thanks , Eugenio : emsaturno39@gmail.com


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