What’s inside this article: An overview of what a brain dump is, how you can benefit from doing them, and a step by step guide for completing a successful brain dump.
Do you ever lay down at bedtime, close your eyes, and have the events of your day and all the tasks you need to do race through your head, keeping you awake?
Our brains are like our inboxes – more clutter coming in than important e-mails. Next thing you know, you’re trying to find that urgent message to reply to and you can’t find it between all the useless messages you receive everyday.
You need to clear your inbox regularly, or the next thing you know, you have 5439 unread messages.
If you’ve been feeling stressed out lately, clearing out your brain with a brain dump can relieve that overwhelm.
What is a Brain Dump
It’s really simple – a brain dump is an activity where you just “dump” all the contents of your brain onto a piece of paper.
Like your inbox – most of what comes out during a brain dump will be junk. But, getting it out of your head will make it easier to focus on the important tasks and you’ll feel more productive because of it.
Morning or Night?
When you do the brain dump is up to you.
Doing your brain dump in the morning may help you more clearly plan a productive day. But, doing it at night might help you shut off you mind and fall asleep quicker.
Try both and choose the time that you prefer.
How to do a Brain Dump
Here’s a step-by-step of the process.
- Find a quiet moment
Grab a pen and paper and sit down somewhere quiet where you can have 15-20 minutes to yourself without interruptions.
- Start writing
Don’t think to much – just start writing down everything that goes through your head, letting your thoughts flow freely. You can really include anything but here are some prompts that might help.
Write down things like:
– Chores you need to do
– Phone calls to make
– Upcoming appointments
– Projects you need to finish
– Projects you need to start
– Things that are worrying you
– Books you want to read
– Things you want to do as part of your routine
– Things to de-clutter from your home
– Commitments to others – boss, spouse, etc
– Skills you want to learn
– Borrowed items to return
– Routine appointments to book – dentist, doctor, car maintenance, etc.
- Don’t censor yourself
This is a time to just write down anything and everything. Don’t censor yourself, don’t filter things out – if it’s in your mind, put it on paper.
Don’t worry about grammar, neatness, having things in a logical order, etc. For now, you just dump it all out.
- Review & Map it Out
Once you’ve finished your brain dump, you’ll review it and begin mapping out things like important tasks, creating an achievable to-do list, etc.
Mapping Your Brain Dump
First of all – just doing the brain dump is often enough to help me clear my head and refocus on what’s important. It gives me an instant productivity boost.
However, mapping out your brain dump will help you get stuff done, and zero in on what’s important.
I’ve included a printable you can use to help you out with this process.
Tasks that Take Less Than 5 Minutes
Have you been procrastinating on any (or many) small tasks that take less than 5 minutes to complete?
Go through your brain dump, and list everything you can complete in 5 minutes or less.
Then, set a timer for 30 minutes and start knocking those tasks off you list.
It’s not only satisfying to cross a bunch of items off your to-do list, but – it relieves that underlying pressure and stress you have, knowing these things need to get done.
High Priority Tasks
Make a list of the important tasks you need to get done that are more time consuming.
What you’ll do with these is plan over the next week or so to complete three of these tasks per day, so you aren’t overwhelmed and have an achievable plan.
Remember the 80/20 principle when planning these high priority tasks.
Can you Delegate?
Are there any items of your list that you can actually pass on the responsibility to someone else? You don’t need to do everything.
Can your spouse call the electrician? Can your son clean their own bedroom? Are you in a position where it makes sense to hire someone – for example does your living room remodel need to be a DIY project when you have 100 other responsibilities?
Can you Scratch Anything Off & Forget it?
Sometimes we want to do things – so they’re floating around in our heads and come out with the brain dump – but it’s not actually plausible or necessary.
You can scratch these right off your list. Don’t clutter your to-do list and your mind with things that you don’t need to stress about.
I hope you enjoy performing a brain dump as much as I do. I feel like my mind is reset – I’m ready to focus and get things accomplished!