First of all, What the heck is a “Brain Dump?”
Brain dumping is a technique meant to take what is in your head and put it on paper, freeing up thought space.
The idea is that endless ideas and overwhelming mental to-do lists can harm productivity. Being a person with many ideas is a fabulous quality – if you are able to actually stay organized and implement them.
How To Do A Brain Dump
Start by getting your self a notebook paper or opening a blank document on your computer.
You are going to want to open your mind to the endless thoughts, tasks, ideas, to-dos that are taking place.
Start writing them down.
Don’t try to prioritize right now, or over-think each idea’s importance; just write.
Write until you can feel the pressure in your mind starts to ease.
Please don’t worry about holding on to your ideas. They will be on this paper and out of your mind.
Be specific. This can be household tasks, personal calls you need to make, conversations you need to have, work tasks, grocery items, it can be wanting to make time to spend with kids, it doesn’t matter. Whatever the thought is weighing on your mind, write it.
Now that the thoughts are out of your head and onto paper, you can simply stop here and use that paper as a checklist. Or, you can move on to my scheduling technique.
Here’s an example of my own brain dump (everything that came to my mind in 5 minutes):
Get caught up on laundry. Create spicy superfood chili recipe on blog. Carson golf clubs. Golf schedule. Dog hair. Floors. Book signing. Wrestling camp. Pedicure. Meal plan.
Schedule It All Out
I personally have to take the brain-dumping a step further. If I use notes, then looking at the “checklist” is almost as overwhelming as what was going on in my brain.
I start by breaking things down into smaller tasks that will need to occur and placing each task on my calendar. Once the task is scheduled, I mark it off the list. This tells my brain I no longer have to think about it or dwell on it. It’s on my calendar, so it’s part of the plan. This works for me because if I put something on my calendar, I stick to it as with any other appointment. I then get to throw the paper away and feel a million times better. Here’s a look at how my brain dump looks on my weekly calendar. ***keep in mind this is not what a day in my life actually looks like, and this is not the accurate amount of time it would take for each task.
This technique works wonders with some of my clients that come to me and say, “I really want to do XYZ, but I don’t have the time” I simply tell them, SCHEDULE IT! Then I ask, “if you had a doctor’s appointment on your calendar, would you say “no, I don’t feel like doing that today?” No, you would go because you have made a commitment. The same needs to apply to your thoughts, ideas, and tasks.
What happens if I write it down and realize it isn’t a good idea or it’s someone else’s job?
If you brain dump something that needs to be done by someone else, or a task that you should be delegating, all you need to do is schedule the correspondence. If the garbage was full and on my mind, I could put on my calendar, “remind Carson to take out the trash” If I simply decide that my thought was a bad idea, I can mark it off the paper, not put it on my schedule, and the bad idea ends up in the trash – not my brain.