Daydream Believer

Tony Buzan is best known as the inventor of Mind Mapping. He’s been extolling the benefits of his ‘Swiss Army Knife of the Mind’ for the best part of 50 years. I’ve been well aware of his work since I started scribing. As one who captures ideas, arranging them spatially and creating links between them, it’s obvious there’s a lot I could take from Buzan’s work. People often call our scribing ‘mind mapping’ and we’re always quite happy to let them.

But despite the clear connection, I’ve never really given it the attention it deserves. If there’s one criticism I’d consistently make about my scribing – and that of most other scribes to be honest – it is that they often lack structure, precisely the organisation of concepts than Buzan has pioneered. Scribing is sometimes more of a melange than a map. A ramble through the woods rather than an exercise in cartography.

I think what’s put me off is the lack of imagery in Buzan’s Mind Maps – they seem like a missed opportunity to create something visually much richer. But of course, though he’s clearly very interested in the power of pictures too, that’s not Buzan’s primary focus. So I’ve concentrated on the visuals, but I’m certain they’re not mutually exclusive, and knowledge organised a la Buzan and illustrated a la Scriberia could be a wonderful thing. So that’s my belated New Year’s Resolution: to get to grips with Buzan’s Mind Mapping.

Given all that, when the School of Life asked us to scribe a Tony Buzan talk it was a little like being asked to make your best sandwich for Michel Roux Jr or doing keepy-uppy in Maradona’s garden… something like that anyway. Much as I’d have relished such a challenge - honest - I was otherwise engaged on this occasion and it was Karolin who took the job on.

Buzan wasn’t discussing Mind Mapping as such, but the art of daydreaming. He suggested that mind-wandering is not a weakness or a lapse in focus, but a necessary and highly productive brain activity. Many great visionaries, from Einstein to Martin Luther King, have openly linked their ability to see new possibilities with their willingness to let the mind wander. Buzan has long argued that our brains are woefully underutilised. And perhaps one of the key reasons so few appear to possess the genius of an Einstein – despite this latent potential - is that they are taught to see daydreaming as something wasteful, pointless or self-indulgent, a state to ‘snap out of’ as quickly as possible. His talk looked at how to get the maximum benefit from day-dreaming, harnessing it to improve memory and stimulate creativity.

Karolin sat in the audience and produced this fantastic sketchnote summary, which Tony Buzan took the time to look at and autograph afterwards! She was accompanied by Clare who did some great sketches of the audience.