Brain Fog? Try Mind Mapping!

By Doris Valade

Do you feel as though your brain is in a bit of a fog at the moment? You’re not alone. As COVID-19 rages on, business leaders are trying to stay focused on managing their business. The uncertainty and anxiety can leave us unable to move forward. If you’ve never done any mind mapping, now might be the perfect time. From personal experience, l can tell you it will clear your mind and help determine next steps. You will gain clarity in your daily activities and a creativity boost. Mind mapping also allows for team input, because even as business leaders, we don’t have to go it alone, particularly during a pandemic.

After 35 very successful years in business, I recently sold my company. I used mind mapping to lay out next steps for my future — business and personal (including fitness goals). I had always used diagrams and doodles with notes when planning new projects or ideas, I didn’t know there was a formal process. Then I discovered mind mapping and its associated software. My diagrams and doodles became more effective and easier to share with others. Currently, I use mind mapping in my new venture as a business and leadership coach to help clients gain a clear visual of their business, lay out business plans, create marketing plans and even lay out company policies (e.g., how to on-board a new employee). 

Mind mapping is more effective and a whole lot more fun than traditional note taking

Your brain is your mind’s physical home. It translates the contents of your mind, your thoughts, beliefs, feelings, memories and even your imagination. What happens when you hear the word ‘dog’? Do you see the word D-O-G? Most likely, you get a mental picture of a dog, in colour and the dog is moving about. We don’t just process thoughts as letters, words, sentences or lists. Our thoughts include images, colours and shapes. Did you know that combining two skills — processing words and colours — involves two different parts of the brain? This can improve your memory far more than note taking. So why take notes with pen and paper, in a traditional linear manner as thoughts present themselves? Mind mapping is easier, more effective and a whole lot more fun!

Mind maps encourage you to visualize and allow for the free flow of ideas

The concept of mind maps was developed in the 1960s by Tony Buzan, an English author and educational consultant. Commonly referred to as the ultimate thinking tool, it was actually inspired by techniques used by Leonardo da Vinci and Albert Einstein. Mind maps encourage you to visualize your thoughts, allowing for the free flow of ideas using pictures, colours and keywords (i.e., a word or concept of high significance). Not only does this improve memory and recall, it gives your thoughts greater clarity. You can use a mind map to increase business productivity, optimize project management and improve collaboration and communication with teams or clients and that’s just for starters.

How to make a mind map

How to make a mind map

The layout of a mind map (above) is similar to the physical layout of our brain, which has billions of neurons branching out, further extending into hundreds of dendrites, which connect with other neurons. There is no start or finish and no lineal order to a mind map. Each map is just one page. You can create one by hand or use a web-based software program (e.g., or

To create one by hand:

  1. Start with a blank piece of paper and a few different coloured markers.
  2. At the center of the paper, write/draw your key topic. It could also be a question or problem.
  3. Draw lines out from the center topic and jot down keywords associated with the topic. There are no right or wrong ideas and the more words you have, the more creative you can be. TIP! Draw images to represent keywords — simple doodles or sketches are fine; you don’t need to be an artist.
  4. From each keyword, continue to extend your thoughts and associations using additional lines and keywords.
  5. Once your ideas are spread around the page, organize and connect them for further clarity.
    TIP! Look for words that are frequently repeated as they may be key topics. Make sure keywords support your central topic.
  6. Now put your ideas into a sequence, as a plan of action, by adding numbers or placing them in clockwise order around the central topic.  
  7. Share your mind map with your team — their input can be part of a brainstorming session.

What are the benefits of mind mapping?

According to a 2019 study, “State of Mind Mapping Software,” conducted by Chuck Frey (Marketing Strategist and Mind Mapping Expert), mind mapping helps executives to be 20 to 30% more productive in their work and increases their creativity by 30%. 18% of respondents said that mind mapping saved them more than 7 hours a week. Another 13.5% stated that it saved them 5 to 7 hours per week.

(Here is the link for a full review of the 2019 study: )

With all of the uncertainly surrounding us at the moment, mind mapping is a reliable tool to help manage information, increase productivity and provide clarity (business and personal) at a time when perhaps, we have never needed it more!

Recommended Reading:

  1. The basics of mind mapping:
  2. How to mind map effectively:


Mind Map Mastery, Tony Buzan, Watkins Media Ltd., 2018

About Doris Valade

Doris has been an owner and President of a successful food manufacturing company for 35 years, and recently sold the company.  She understands the unique challenges associated with leading, growing and ultimately selling a company.  She has sat on the boards of Food & Beverage Ontario, the Canadian Meat Council, and the Canadian Spice Association. Doris has been included on the list of Profit magazine’s Top 100 Female Entrepreneurs from 1999 – 2005 and again in 2016. Meat and Poultry Ontario recently awarded Doris the Lifetime Member Award for her outstanding contribution to the industry.

Doris is a business and leadership coach supporting business owners and entrepreneurs to challenge, define and lead. You can request a free (no obligation) 15-minute phone call and conversation with Doris by sending her an email request: