If you’re anything like me, chances are you have a bevy of items swimming around in your head at all times. Right now, I’m juggling a handful of projects, plus helping out with a few remodeling projects for ALE Renovations, my blog work and trying to make personal time for my health and well-being… I’ve got a lot going on in my life! That’s why I rely heavily on a weekly ritual I’ve had for a little over two years now, decluttering my mind with a regular brain dump.
At first glance, the name sounds a little morbid, right? Well, don’t let it fool you. A brain dump is good for the soul AND mind! I’ve come to rely on my brain dumps weekly, sometimes multi-weekly to properly function and navigate within our busy world.
Every so often when I post about my Monday morning brain dumps on social media, I receive questions on how to do a brain dump. Well, let me tell you it isn’t all that difficult. If you’re ready to empty all your thoughts and to-dos onto a piece of paper, then you’re already taking a step in the right direction! There really is no wrong way to do a brain dump, but these are the steps that have worked for me, and help me to feel productive throughout my week.
How to do a brain dump
Decluttering your brain will not only help you get more sh*t done, but it’ll also ease anxiety… I can attest to it! I try to follow these steps when I do my weekly brain dump. It’s important to remember this isn’t a to-do list, but instead just a list of everything that’s in your mind, things to-do, to remember, to act upon, and more.
Block out some quiet time
Personally, I find that my brain dump works best when I step away from my phone, computer or anything else that might serve as a distraction. Sometimes a brain dump will only take 15-20 minutes, other times it might be closer to an hour. Try to do your brain dump when you don’t have other time constraints. I find that allowing myself whatever time I need, helps my brain dump happen more naturally.
Grab a notepad and pen… and let’s write
Grab a notepad, a notebook, a piece of paper and get ready to brain dump! I like to use a lined notebook for my brain dumps. For the most effective brain dump, I simply just begin to start writing out whatever is on my mind. Need to go to the grocery store? Write that task down. Want to fit in an evening walk? Write it down.
Basically, I write down anything and everything that’s taking up space in my mind. More often than not, it includes a bevy of to dos or things I might want to make happen in the coming days. Tasks could be as big as goals I have swimming around in my mind right then or as menial as take out the trash.
Organize your thoughts
Once I feel like I’ve gotten everything out on paper, I try to think about the ways in which each of the items might be grouped. In essence, this is a way to better organize my brain dump thoughts to decide on action for each now or later. I usually have three to four groupings: business-related, personal, my husband’s business and our investment property. Everything then gets sorted out into these groupings so I can better organize what needs to be done and when.
Once I have everything grouped, sometimes I re-write my list or other times I highlight with colors that correspond to my groupings, then I’ll go back and star or circle the most important items. Do I need to turn in a draft for a partnership later in the week? Circle it. I need to make a vet appointment for Sadie’s annual shots. Circle it. See where this is going?
My brain dump is meant to be an effective way to clear out my mind, de-stress by allowing myself to feel some sort of accomplishment for writing things down on a task list and ultimately a place that houses everything I need to take action on.
I like to keep my weekly brain dumps in one place (a notebook), so I can refer back to them each week. More often than not, I didn’t hit everything on my previous brain dump list, so being able to refer back to what might need more urgency in the following weeks is helpful.
I love a good brain dump and highly suggest trying it out for yourself! Yes, I get a paper filled with items that were swimming around in my brain, and stressing me out, but I also feel like it provides a sort of mental clarity that we often aren’t too accustomed to these days. And finding that clarity, to me, is the most important.