What do you do when your map gets a bit sloppy? The purpose of your idea map or mind map may fall into one of several categories, so let me provide some suggestions for some scenarios.

  1. This idea map is for my “to do” list. For some reason there can be a tendancy for people (myself included) to want these maps to look like pieces of artwork instead of seeing them as functional tools created to meet a purpose. I had to allow myself to cross off completed items and squeeze new items onto the maps until the map was such a mess I needed to start fresh. Recreating the map each time it got a tiny bit messy, became a waste of time. These types of maps should not be re-drawn until absolutely necessary.
  2. This idea map is for an application that has a sequence to it (a process, a schedule, or a presentation for example). During the creation of a map the ideas are generated randomly, so it is unlikely that your map will be perfectly sequential on the first draft. The initial map provides the opportunity for you to step back and see the data from the big picture view. This enables you to re-sequence (maybe by numbering the branches), discover relationships between data points, and in some cases re-organize. If you are creating a linear document from this map, there is no need to re-draw. If you are using this map in the future or presenting from it, I would re-draw a final version.
  3. This idea map contains a large amount of information. If you find the re-drawing process cumbersome or annoying, maybe you should use software to make the editing process extremely easy.

I guess the bottom line is to determine the purpose of your map before re-drawing it multiple times. Don’t re-draw the map just for the sake of re-drawing. Sloppy idea maps can be just as useful as the most beautifully drawn example!