"By its very nature, the linear presentation of standard notes prevents the brain from making associations, thus counteracting creativity and memory." - The Mind Map Book (1993)
I'm an obsessive mind mapper. Whenever I'm in a creative or critical thinking pickle, my brain goes into dump session mode, meaning, on paper, I end up with tons of nonlinear notes so I can see patterns and draw conclusions. I've written scenes this way, mapped out grant applications, and even finessed goals by identifying my overall thinking patterns.
The Mind Map Book by Tony Buzan has nifty examples of mind maps that are based on natural patterns, like lightning bolts, tree roots, branches, flowers, etc. According to this article on Business.com, mind mapping can even break down complex business ideas, hence their necessity as I draw out the next steps in my creative career.
Here are a few examples from the book:
My office can look similar to the image of Dr. Stanley above. Here's a sample of a mind map for a grant application. As you can see, I've listed my accomplishments and broke them further, pushing everything I could as far as possible. From there, I noticed a common theme: I am fulfilled by supporting communities-in-need, which might be the overall theme for a grant application.
I recently bought a roll of tabletop paper. So yeah...I'm kinda prepared :-P
Here are free mind map templates to get you started from Northern Virginia Community College's website.