What is a brain dump?
A brain dump, simply put, is getting everything that is on your mind – out of it!
A brain dump gets all the ‘mix-up’ in your brain down on paper.
We often – or always – have so much running through our mind, that we then find it hard to concentrate on just one thing, or concentrate on the task at hand.
Life, these days, is hectic. We are all busy and most of the time are multi-tasking – doing several things at the same time. While this can be achievable, it may mean that we forget other important things.
A full mind can cause panic, anxiety, depression, confusion, and many other emotions.
You can liken a brain dump to clearing out a messy drawer in your house, or emptying the contents of your handbag to have a good sort out – you always feel better after it is done!
What a brain dump help with
A brain dump helps to clear our minds and focus on one thing at a time.
Not only can a brain dump clear our minds, but it also helps to create a list of things to do.
We can write down things that we need to do.
We can write down things that worry us.
It can help to remove or reduce the panic that we may feel when thoughts and feelings are overwhelming.
These many thoughts may be more obvious when we are tired and trying to sleep, or trying to focus on just one thing. Writing them down may not solve them, but it clearly sets them out so you could then tackle them one at a time.
Writing things down is a regular habit of journalling and carrying out a regular brain dump is part of the journal process.
Writing things down in the way of a brain dump is also very therapeutic, satisfying, and calming.
How to do a brain dump
Doing a brain dump is very simple.
All you need is some paper and a pen.
I like to use my journal or one of our brain dump templates, rather than a scrap of paper so that I can keep my ‘thoughts’ all in one place.
This is also really useful for keeping track. If the same issue keeps coming up in each brain dump session, then I can see that this is really something I need to resolve, get to grips with, or get help with!
There are several ways of creating your brain dump.
You can write a simple bulleted list – this is easy to keep track of, and easy to see on your pages.
You can create a mind map – or a spider diagram as they are also called.
To achieve a successful brain dump, you need just to write and write until you feel a little lighter. You may find it really hard, to begin with.
Even though you know you are aware that your mind is full, and you have so many thoughts, it can be hard to get them down on paper. You almost feel like you have writer’s block.
But don’t stress about this. While ideally a brain dump should be done in one go, there is no problem if this doesn’t occur. Keep your pad or your journal and a pen handy, so that as soon as something comes to you – a worry, a thought, a task that needs to be done – you can jot it down.
You may find that once you have a few things on your page, more things come to you – it’s almost like, removing a blockage from a pipe – once you have removed the block, everything then tips out.
Why does a brain dump work?
So, how is jotting all my thoughts, worries, and things down a good thing? How is that going to help solve anything?
Firstly, it clears your mind, so that you can take one thing at a time and deal with it.
It then gives you the chance to look at your list and prioritise. Look through your dump list and see what is urgent – things you MUST get done – or any of your issues or worries that you need to deal with.
Similarly, look at what is not essential.
You don’t need to remove anything from your list, but there may be some things, that once you write them, you see are not worth the worry or insignificant – so you could remove these from your journal and hopefully from your mind.
Why should you brain dump?
A brain dump can relieve anxiety and stress. A full mind – a busy mind – can weigh heavily on us and cause unnecessary stress and worry.
It allows you to clearly see any tasks that you have rather than trying to remember everything. You can prioritise, schedule, and plan your day, week, and month more easily.
Finally doing a brain dump can help free up your mind for important things and give you more energy and motivation for the good things.
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What to write in your brain dump
In short – everything! Or at least everything that is in your mind.
It may be, initially, best to start with things you need to do; everyday tasks, appointments, etc.
This is usually an easier way to start.
Then you can start on some other thoughts you may have. Is there anything you would like to achieve, any goals that you have?
Anywhere you would like to go? Films or shows you want to see? Places to visit or travel to?
This forms a bucket list of sorts, and seeing it written on paper gives you a chance to start completing it.
You may then move on to any worries, emotions, or other thoughts you may have.
This might be a more challenging step to do – but an important part of a brain dump. It is often these thoughts that fill up our minds, so we can not focus on anything else – and the types of things that keep niggling at us.
What to do next
Look at your list and then start to sort it out.
Don’t feel the pressure to do this, the fact that you have simply emptied your mind onto paper should help you.
But if you want you can look at your list.
You could then prioritise.
Divide it into separate lists from here;
- Appointments – that must be kept
- Urgent tasks that have deadlines
- Tasks that will take time – and need a specific amount of time put aside for them
- Tasks that can be done within a short amount of time – that can be quickly ticked off – will give you a sense of achievement
Next focus on your thoughts or emotions. Write them in a list.
Then analyse them. Are they related? Are there any thoughts that are questions, that you can look up and get answered easily? Are there any embellishments that you can make on these wonderings, that will help answer or clarify them?
And then your worries. What we don’t want is to focus on these so much that we become even more anxious about them, however, if we look at them, we may be able to see that they do not worry us so much.
I suggest you take one at a time and analyse why it worries you. Is it something that you can easily rectify, or do something about so that it doesn’t play on your mind so much?
It is good to remember that there is no correct way to do a brain dump – whether you choose a structured list, a spider diagram, or a messy list – the point is that you get your thoughts down on paper.
Practice a brain dump regularly and get into the habit of doing it.