Tools to Better Organize and Streamline Your Thoughts
For many people, reading through a large chunk of text can create confusion and boredom. This is because people typically retain information better and quicker when it is visual rather than textual. Similarly, when it comes to expressing oneself, it can be difficult to jot down an organized series of thoughts or ideas. Think about writing a report or a business plan. We often tend to become utterly devoid of creative thoughts when faced with a blank sheet of paper. Graphic organizers and mind maps are an easy and practical way that help to address this very issue. Quite simply, they are a visual representation of our thoughts. These ideas can be linked together through a series of lines or shapes, and they can also be grouped and categorized in a variety of ways.
The key is that each idea that is added to a graphic organizer or mind map helps to generate further ideas. This form of idea generation is known as lateral thinking; it encourages us to develop ideas on a wider scale rather than in a chronological or linear fashion. To take a very basic example, imagine a company that is brainstorming ideas to market dog food. Without graphic organizers, they may simply focus on the main benefits of the product: nutrition and price. However, when using a graphic organizer, the employees will begin to brainstorm. They may develop ideas about what dog owners care about, such as the dog’s happiness, the owner’s responsibility, their relationship with the dog, and so on. In essence, this method of brainstorming helps to develop ideas along new trains of thought that are related to the core idea through a series of links.
Graphic organizers are used all the way from schools to corporate employees, government offices, artists, and writers. Apart from their use as a brainstorming tool, many have also found them to be an excellent teaching resource. This can be applied to companies too. For example, when training employees, managers can use graphic organizers to improve the employees’ level of understanding, while allowing them to explore the subject on their own as well. Because of their ease of use, graphic organizers not only help with comprehension, but also with communication.
There are many different styles and variations of graphic organizers to choose from. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages, making some more suitable for specific tasks than others. For example, a Venn diagram is fantastic for exploring common features or characteristics among several subjects. On the other hand, a fishbone map helps to dissect and analyze the smaller parts within one main topic. When introducing graphic organizers to a group, it is important to first explain how to use it as well as how it will help. Most graphic organizers are versatile enough that they can be used by individuals or by groups. When working in groups, the team leader can hand out blank templates to be completed, or run a general brainstorming session with a whiteboard.
Get a head start with the wide selection of resources below, including templates, examples, and articles on the uses and benefits of graphic organizers.
An Introduction to Mind Maps
Mind Mapping Resources, Tips, and More
Getting Started with Mind Mapping
Different Ways to Use Mind Maps
Examples of Mind Maps as Analysis Tools
Using Mind Maps to Foster Creative Thinking
Characteristics of Mind Maps
Mind Mapping Software and Benefits
Mind Maps as Research Organizing Tools
The Various Types of Graphic Organizers
Template for a Main Idea Pyramid
Customized Decision-Making Diagram Generator Tool
How to Use the Question-Answer Relationships Approach
A Guide to Venn Diagrams
Venn Diagram Printable Handout
A Description of Sequencing Organizers
Details on Using Flowcharts
Printable Fishbone Map Template
All About Graphic Organizers for Teaching Ideas
Using Graphic Organizers as a Learning Tool
Graphic Organizer Templates with Instructional Notes
Graphic Organizers as a Tool for Writers
How Graphic Organizers Help with Visualizing Information