Are you are having difficulties with office organization or training in your property management business? You might want to consider using the process of mind mapping. This tool is a great way to capture thoughts and create them in a visual format. Mind maps can help you and/or your personnel be more creative, remember more, and achieve solutions to many problems. An individual can utilize them as easily as a group. I do a lot of writing and I start every project and article with a mind map.

What is mind mapping?

This concept has been around for centuries but in the 1970’s Tony Buzan, an English author and educational consultant began promoting and popularizing mind mapping. He published several books on the subject. Other terms similar to mind mapping are brainstorming, visual thinking, and problem solving. Here is a basic definition of mind mapping from Wikipedia:

A mind map is a diagram used to organize information visually. You generally create a mind map around a single concept, drawn as an image in the center of a blank landscape page, to which you add associated representations of ideas such as images, words, and parts of words. Major ideas connect directly to the central concept, and other ideas branch out from those.

What tools do you need for mind mapping?

Mind mapping tools generally fall into two categories.

  1. You can conduct a mind mapping session on your own or with a group by using inexpensive simple tools such as blank paper, pens, a dry erase or flip board, markers, crayons, colors, and paper images.
  2. There are many computerized programs available and you can easily find them by simply typing “mind mapping software” into a search engine. However, you probably have one or two readily available in your computer if you have Microsoft Word® or Microsoft PowerPoint®; later in this article, you will see some mind map examples created in Microsoft Word®.

How do you mind map?

There are basic steps for mind mapping and they are appropriate for either an individual or a group to use. People can also work individually first and then combine their ideas in a brainstorming or mind mapping session.

Here are steps that utilize either simple tools or a computer program.

  • Start the process with a well-defined topic placed in the center of the “map.”
  • Write related ideas around the central idea or topic. It is best to print the words.
  • Then connect all ideas with meaningful relationships, such as lines, colored lines, shapes, or pictures, to complete the mind map graphically or visually.
  • Leave lots of space between ideas whenever possible because new filler ideas and relationships can form as the mind map grows.
  • Go with the flow and write down what comes to mind. Don’t be too structured because organization will stem from the proposed ideas.
  • There really is “no right or wrong” way to mind map because it is a process for organizing ideas. This is essential to stress when working with a group to promote participation and avoid negativity.

How can you use mind mapping in your property management business?

Visual concepts can create solutions and that is what mind mapping is all about. You may be having trouble with an application process, an owner presentation, explaining company structure, or helping your team understand how to handle client problems. Getting everyone to “see” the concepts visually is a powerful tool to enable understanding and organization. There are limitless uses for mind mapping.

To create a mind mad in Microsoft Word®, go to Insert/SmartArt/Choose a SmartArt Graphic (see the diagram below). Many choices will appear to create various mind maps.

  1. Start by creating a mind map to outline various ways you can use this process for your business. You can simply create the following example by simply using paper and pen or a marker and board. Alternatively, you can use a Smart Art “Cycle” to show ways to use mind maps in a property management company.
  1. Here is another example of a similar mind map cycle for solving tenant problems. This example uses various colors to assist with visualization.
  • If you have time, you can achieve similar results by simply using a dry erase board and colored markers. It is amazing what can happen when people engage in a brain storming session with a blank board. They can bring new ideas and concepts to the table, giving them ownership in the whole process. Later you can re-create a computer version of the handwritten mind map as a follow-up and distribute it to your team to use.
  • Creating the mind map in advance can channel discussions when time is in short supply. Create a mind map in Microsoft Word®, supply personnel with a printed copy, and discuss how they can apply the different steps. The key is to get your team to visualize the concepts. For example, apply it to a discussion on an actual tenant or owner problem so personnel can understand their role in the process.
  • Download the free property management Mind Map Samples from the LandlordSource Customer Center for use in your business (see instructions below). If you need more information on how they work in Microsoft Word®, consult the Help function.

Don’t think of mind mapping as more work. Property management is a complex business and mind mapping can streamline the process, save you time, and help everyone work more efficiently. The LandlordSource Roadmap to Organizing Property Management can help you with organizational tools and more mind map examples; it is currently on sale.
Click here to download the free Mind Map Samples for Property Management.

Jean Storms - Owner and Author of LandlordSource ProductsJean Storms, MPM® is the founder/author of LandlordSource and has been a NARPM® member since January 1993.

Disclaimer: LandlordSource does not represent the article content in this website as legal advice. It is shared information only and up to the reader to use this information responsibly, seeking legal advice as necessary to their business.