Mind Mapping: The Thought Visualizer

As previously discussed in other articles, most of us are taught what to think - not how to think.  At WindoTrader we firmly believe that each individual is capable of making decisions that best support his or her values, goals, and objectives IF they are provided true, accurate, timely information.

In our experience, the ability to increase one’s capacity to use both sides of the brain can exponentially increase one’s effectiveness and efficiency.  Checklists, while invaluable tools, are only part of the picture since they primarily support left-brain thinking.  Mind maps, on the other hand, primarily capitalize on the essence of right-brain thinking.

For those new to the mind-mapping concept, here is a brief overview:

A mind-map is a diagram that represents words, thoughts, ideas, tasks, and more.  The map is arranged around a key idea and branches out wherever your thought process leads.  Ideally, these maps will allow for groupings or clusters of like thoughts, so that the end result can be read as a literal "map" to the thought process that created it.  This non-linear approach encourages brainstorming and free thinking, while still providing structure and focus.   Other names for mind-mapping include; clustering, branching, radiant thinking, etc..

Tony Buzan, an author and leading authority on mind-mapping, recommends many guidelines for creating effective maps, including the following:

  • Use symbols, images, and colors whenever possible
  • Allow each word, phrase, or thought to have its own line
  • Utilize numbers or another form of hierarchy to distinguish thought groupings by importance or priority
  • Do not be afraid to try something new and make the map unique to your own individual thought process

While the concept of mind-mapping may be new to some, this method of recording thoughts has been utilized for centuries as a tool for problem solving and visual thinking.  In today’s business world, mind-maps have a number of valuable uses, including designing effective outlines, facilitation of team collaboration, and condensing information into a concise and memorable format.  In the specific area of trading, mind-maps can be used in a number of contexts, including:

  • Drafting a trading or business plan
  • Creating a visual aid for assisting with recall and decision-making
  • Outlining potential scenarios
  • Journaling and note taking
  • Logging observations during trading sessions

There are as many different ways to create mind maps as there are individual people in the world; they can be created digitally or drawn out by hand, but the important thing is to do it.  Do it often and do it consistently, as this will cultivate a thought process that is quick, detailed, and action-oriented. 

Additionally, there are many mind-mapping software options and resources available that can prove to be excellent resources for one desiring to utilize mind-maps and hone their critical thinking skills.  One key aspect of such software programs is that they can be very helpful in organizing large amounts of data; they also have the ability to pull in more than just words or ideas - pictures, symbols, and more can be added to the map to create an even more detailed outlook.

Mind-Mapping Resources:

The following is a short list of a few of the leading mind-mapping software providers:
  • FreeMind
  • SmartDraw
  • Inspiration
  • Mind Genius
  • MatchWare
  • iMindMap

Mind mapping can be a powerful tool in anyone’s problem-solving arsenal.  They are fun, easy-to-use, and enable you to take an active role in the thinking process. 

Several books are available on the topic if you want to learn more, such as:
  • How to Mind-Map: The Ultimate Thinking Tool That Will Change Your Life [Paperback] Tony Buzan (Author) 
  • The Mind Map Book: How to Use Radiant Thinking to Maximize Your Brain's Untapped Potential [Paperback] Tony Buzan (Author), Barry Buzan (Author)
  • Mindmapping: Your Personal Guide to Exploring Creativity and Problem-Solving by Joyce Wycoff (Author)

NOTE: Wycoff’s book is divided into three sections that take you from a brief introduction to mind-maps, to how to effectively create them, to how to utilize the process to help you in all areas of life.  It is a concise read, geared toward the business professional; however, it does have valuable insights for the individual as well.  Her practical, down-to-earth approach is often easier to follow than Buzan’s lengthy tomes - something that busy people everywhere can surely appreciate.

The following mind-map examples are included to demonstrate just a few of the ways this thought process can be used by traders:

For reference: 

This is an example of a mind-map being used for a quick reference sheet (checklist) for preparing for and trading the open.  Obviously this mind-map relates to the Market Profile and is based on the works of Pete Steidlmayer and Jim Dalton.  

For planning and strategizing:

This is an example of a mind-map being used to plan trading scenarios for an upcoming trading session. 

For recording, tracking, or journaling:

This is an example of a mind-map being used to track and record one’s progress and important events during a trading session.


Ultimately, the mind-map is a right-brain tool that can be an indispensable asset to anyone looking to focus his or her thought process.  While its uses may be limitless, its effectiveness is limited to the time and energy invested in becoming proficient at using the system.  As with anything, its effectiveness is linked to the willingness of the thinker to dive into the process whole-heartedly and openly.  

As always, we wish you success in applying this 'working tool' to your learning, trading, and life.  The WindoTrader Team.