How to Plan Your Book or Course Using a Mind Map

Here’s a simple way to plan out your course – use a mind map. A mind map is a way to organise your thoughts and ideas in a graphical format.

It’s hard to plan your product using traditional, linear notes

  1. A mind map reflects more closely how our brains really work. We don’t naturally think in a chronological, linear fashion as is required when planning a course. Instead, we’re more likely to identify the larger ideas, then go back to fill in the gaps and jump from point to point as and when they come to us. We backtrack, we make corrections, we edit on the fly. A mind map is good for catching this more creative process.
  2. A mind map is great for identifying relationships and connecting ideas. It helps you to see how the big ideas all fit together and therefore how to teach the topic more thoroughly. A map naturally brings all your ideas together into a meaningful whole.
  3. Best of all, a mind map plans your course out for you, before your very eyes. Once you complete the diagram, you have a working roadmap for what you need to teach; the points you need to cover; what materials you need to include – everything.

How to use a mind map to build your book or course outline

  1. A mind map is a way to organise complex ideas into an easy to understand diagram.
  2. You start with the problem you will solve (or promised result) in the centre of the diagram.
  3. You then break the solution down into five steps 
  4. Break those five steps into 2-3 further steps. The diagram looks like this:

The course planning mind map framework.

For example, you might want to create a course, “How to be a six-figure writer”. It may look something like this (click to enlarge).


An example course outline using the mind map method

  1. Go through each sub-step and write/talk about each one. Hey presto, that’s your course.
  2. Augment sub-steps as required with additional support materials, e.g. checklists, cheatsheets, workbooks etc.

Takeaway points

The mind map framework is just that – a framework, not a straitjacket. But try to:

  • Break the solution into five steps. Three is too few, more than five is too many. Five seems to be the sweet spot.
  • Break those five steps into three sub-steps where you can.

Action steps

  1. Take your product idea and run it through the mind map method.
  2. Stop procrastinating and start creating your course. You can be done in 48 hours if you apply yourself.

Photo credit: fbobolas via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

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