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Navigate your thoughts methodically with Digital Mind Maps

Antti Halla is the creator of, software engineer, personal coach, entrepreneur, and writer. In light of the release of his recent book, we got in touch with him to ask him a few questions about his book and his thoughts on mind mapping.

Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I'm a software engineer by trade, living a nomadic life with my wife. At the moment we're setting up a base in Finland as we're expecting a new member to our family soon.

I've long been interested in thinking and learning -- and how to use tools to do that efficiently. My background in computer science has turned out to be a great help in trying to understand what's going on in my own mind. To me those two things have a lot in common.

How were you first introduced to mind mapping?

I found this free software called Freemind some fifteen years ago. I was hooked from day one. I don't remember how it happened exactly or what I was looking for in the first place. I had tried pen-and-paper mind maps but found them too restrictive for me. Post-it notes were closer to what I was after because with them, I could move my ideas around. Digital mind maps gave me almost the same freedom.

What do you think is the greatest benefit of mind mapping?

Mind mapping enables me to think methodically, to tackle complex problems and to stay with and develop thoughts over long periods of time. It helps me focus on a single topic at a time and push distracting thoughts aside. To do those things well you need a stable memory -- something our brain unfortunately doesn't provide. The greatest benefits for me lie in connecting all the mind maps together into a single network of thoughts and ideas. That enables me to approach my mind -- and my life -- as a dynamic, interlinked system.

How does mapping fit into your work and personal life?

Mind maps are the most important personal tool I use daily. And I’ve been doing so for over ten years now. I use them as a notebook, an idea collection, a personal planner and a project management system. The maps help me study, write, solve problems and think about anything in general. Basically, my whole life is in mind maps.

Tell us about your new Book: "Mind on Maps"...

Mind on Maps takes you on a tour of methodical thinking with digital mind maps. I briefly introduce the concept of cognitive tools. The example topics I use in the book are reflecting on your past, planning for your future, learning something new and getting organized. I then go on for a more detailed analysis of mind mapping as a system: I talk about the structure of thoughts and the process of working with them in different contexts -- and how to develop that system over time. I'll list what I consider to be essential skills for mind mappers, and finally I discuss what to expect when you start exploring your thoughts systematically.

What sort of response has the book had?

It's still too early to say, but the first responses have been positive. At first people have been surprised by the lack of pictures in the book, but then said they've been missing books like this, with an analytical approach to mind mapping.

What prompted you to write the book?

I had difficulties articulating why I spend so much time with my mind maps and why I find them so fascinating. I decided to write my thoughts down and see if there's enough ideas for an article. After a week I had my first draft of the book.

Who would most benefit from reading the book?

People who like to think -- or who want to learn to think -- methodically and who are looking for ways to use mind maps as a tool for personal reflection, planning and management. The book gets a bit technical at some points, so people with engineering background might have an advantage there. You'll probably get more out of the book if you already have a bit of experience with mind maps under your belt.

Where can we get it!?

The Kindle version of the book is available on Amazon. There's also a paperback version coming soon.

What are your thoughts on Biggerplate as a resource for mind mapping?

For me, Biggerplate means a source of ideas and inspiration. I also very much appreciate the good work you're doing in making people aware of the possibilities of mind mapping.

Thanks to Antti for sharing his experiences with us! If you have a mind mapping use story that you'd like to share with the mind map community, please get in touch by commenting below, or via Twitter!

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