Are you Looking for a powerful tool to streamline your brainstorming or learning processes? This article is all about using ChatGPT for mind mapping.
I have found two main ways to use ChatGPT for mind-mapping purposes.
The first way to use ChatGPT for mind mapping is to have it do the whole process for you by creating a text version of it and importing it into Xmind.
However, the real learning benefit comes when you can use ChatGPT’s creativity as a way to assist in the planning of mind maps that you draw. This is the more advanced high-level approach.
I’ll cover both of these methods and explain why the second way is the best, especially if your goal is learning and memorization.
First, let’s get into the quick takeaways of this article.
If you should take anything away from this, it should be these things.
- ChatGPT can be utilized for mind mapping through automatic and high-level approaches.
- The automatic approach generates a text-based structure that is imported into Xmind but may miss important connections between topics.
- The high-level approach uses ChatGPT as an assistant, providing more learning benefits by promoting active engagement.
- ChatGPT helps in generating memorable images, mnemonics, and categorization ideas for effective mind mapping.
Let’s get into ChatGPT’s mind-mapping capabilities.
The Automatic Way to Use ChatGPT For Mind Mapping
This is really the quick and dirty way of creating a ChatGPT mind map. It’s pretty much just pressing buttons from start to finish, that’s why its called the automatic way.
In the future, it’s likely that we will see full tools that do this process from start to finish. For example, check out mindmaps.world and get on their waitlist because this is likely what AI mind mapping will look like in the future.
However, these full-scale tools are not out yet. For the time being, we need to make do with using ChatGPT and existing mind-mapping tools like Xmind. The specific tool doesn’t really matter here in my opinion. Most of these digital mind-mapping tools will do the job.
I have found that ChatGPT is good at providing a text-based representation of what you would include in a mindmap. This can be easily imported into Xmind.
To do this, I put together a single prompt that does the automatic approach for ChatGPT mind mapping from start to finish, including the organization and the correct Markdown format.
1. Use a prompt for the Xmind format
I created this prompt so that you can just put in your topic and ChatGPT will spit out the structure of the mind map in Xmind format, ready to go.
All you need to do is copy this and put it directly into ChatGPT.
In a markdown file (MD) plan out a mind map on the topic [your topic here]. Follow the format in this example. Write it in a code snippet I can copy from directly. Include the exact format I used below.
Example markdown format:
# Central topic
## Main topic 1
### Subtopic 1
– Subtopic 1
– Subtopic 2
– Subtopic 3
### Subtopic 2
– Subtopic 1
– Subtopic 2
– Subtopic 3
## Main topic 2
### Subtopic 1
– Subtopic 1
– Subtopic 2
– Subtopic 3
Next, you need to create a markdown file to import into Xmind.
2. Generate the mind map structure using ChatGPT
Here are the results from ChatGPT by feeding in the topic of the history of psychology in the 20th century as an example.
Next, we need to convert this output into a markdown file.
3. Convert ChatGPT’s output to markdown
Using the prompt provided you should just be able to hit the “copy” button in the top right and instantly copy the mindmap structure to your clipboard.
This next part is pretty easy. Just open https://dillinger.io/ and paste in what you got from ChatGPT. Then just hit “export as” and select “markdown”. The file should have been named automatically.
Now it’s just a matter of importing it into Xmind.
4. Import the markdown file into Xmind
- Open Xmind and select the hamburger menu in the top left.
- Select File → Import → Markdown
- Choose the markdown file that you exported from dillinger.io
Here are the results! Not bad right?
The combination of ChatGPT’s categorization abilities and the visual ability of a tool like this are pretty powerful.
We are pretty much done here, so now it’s just a case of perfecting what you already have.
5. Finishing touches
Lastly, you should consider adding extra information and especially clarifying the relationships in the mindmap within Xmind itself. There are a lot of connections that could still be made within the mindmap to make it more memorable.
As you modify your mindmap however you might notice that there are some limitations to using Xmind and ChatGPT in this way. This is why I have a better way to use ChatGPT for mind maps.
Let me explain these limitations and how I got around them.
Limitations of The Automatic Approach
Using ChatGPT for a mindmap is actually still pretty limited compared to what you can do yourself with some practice. This is because ChatGPT’s output is basically still a hierarchy at the end of the day, which isn’t really what a mindmap is about.
You will likely be missing many of the connections between the topics because of this. Look at the example above using the history of psychology. It’s a complete hierarchy.
A mindmap is meant to be a non-linear highly relational approach to note-taking, and using ChatGPT in this way makes it into a linear and hierarchical process.
Essentially, we are missing out on relationships between the concepts. In the example above, wouldn’t the cognitive revolution and cognitive neuroscience be connected in some way?
Sidenote: There is still some merrit to the basic approach. Organizing information in a hierarchical way does improve memory.1 It’s just that we can do so much better with the high-level approach.
While we can patch this by polishing our mindmap post hoc, there is a better way.
We can use ChatGPT as a mind-mapping assistant and do the drawing ourselves.
Note that this only really matters if you are using mind maps as a learning and memorization tool (this is how I use them)
The High-level Way to Use ChatGPT Mind Mapping
Here are the kind of results that you can get by doing the actual visual representation and relationship-forming steps yourself.
Much more memorable than what ChatGPT gave us, right?
However, ChatGPT is not out of the picture when creating mind maps like these. It can be used as a way to come up with ideas on how the material could be categorized but, still do the actual categorization yourself.
By using ChatGPT as an assistant, you actually get the learning benefit of doing the mindmap yourself while still saving time.
Let’s get into how you can leverage ChatGPT for this type of mind mapping.
1. Generate mind map categorization/chunking strategies
This is really the value that ChatGPT brings to the high-level approach. It gives you different ideas for how the information could be categorized. This gives you different frameworks to put the material into.
For instance, you might be able to categorize the same material in many different ways. Some of these ways will make more intuitive sense to you and others will not. Out of what ChatPGT suggests, do what is most intuitive to you.
Here’s an example of all the different ways you could categorize the information for the topic of biology.
Promt: What are some ways to categorize the topic [your topic here] for a mindmap
2. Use ChatGPT to make the mind map information memorable
There are many ways that ChatGPT can make what you are learning memorable. Here is a basic list of some of the things that ChatGPT can speed up the process of.
Generate memorable images
ChatGPT can help you with ideas for drawing diagrams and illustrations. These can help you visualize processes and mechanisms, making them easier to remember.
Don’t underestimate this strategy, this is one of the most effective ways to improve your memory according to the research on this topic.2
You can slot these into your mindmap as you draw out the ideas. This allows you to have fewer words and rely more on memorable imagery. This is one of the main ways that makes the mindmap sample above so much more memorable than the ChatGPT-generated one.
Mnemonics are memory aids that help you remember complex information. You can use ChatGPT to create a catchy phrase or acronym to help you remember key terms or concepts.
I actually have an entire article where I describe 7 mnemonic techniques that you can use with ChatGPT if you want some specific ideas on how to use ChatGPT for mnemonics.
3. Draw and perfect the mindmap yourself
This last step is really where the learning benefit of mind maps comes in.
By drawing the mindmap yourself you will end up mentally working with the material you are trying to memorize much more and will naturally remember it MUCH BETTER.
That is how you can actually use ChatGPT to create memorable mindmaps!
It’s essentially just a combination of using ChatGPT for ways the information could be structured, doing the planning yourself, and then using it to make the planned structure more memorable.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can ChatGPT be used with other mind mapping software besides Xmind?
Yes, ChatGPT can be used with other mind mapping software as well. The text-based output it generates can be adapted to fit the import requirements of other mind mapping tools, such as MindMeister, Coggle, or Miro.
How does ChatGPT help improve learning and memorization through mind mapping?
ChatGPT aids learning and memorization by generating memorable images, mnemonics, and categories that can be incorporated into your mind maps.
- Li, G., Deng, L., Wang, D., Wang, W., Zeng, F., Zhang, Z., Li, H., Song, S., Pei, J., & Shi, L. (2016). Hierarchical Chunking of Sequential Memory on Neuromorphic Architecture with Reduced Synaptic Plasticity. Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience, 10, 136–136. https://doi.org/10.3389/fncom.2016.00136
- Wammes, J. D., Meade, M. E., & Fernandes, M. A. (2016). The drawing effect: Evidence for reliable and robust memory benefits in free recall. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology (2006), 69(9), 1752–1776. https://doi.org/10.1080/17470218.2015.1094494
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