You’re overwhelmed, and you feel like your mind might explode thanks to the thoughts speeding around in your head. There’s a report to submit at work, an 8th birthday to RSVP to, the vet to book, the bills to pay, the parent-teacher interview to arrange, oh and when to fit in the groceries and buy that birthday present?! Then add in the copious amounts of data we consume thanks to social media and the internet and it’s no surprise many of us get burnt out regularly.
What is a brain dump
First and foremost, look at brain dumping as a form of self-care. You are doing your overwhelmed brain a favour so you can take a step back and relax. A brain dump is the decluttering of your mind and your thoughts; it lets you clean it out and refocus. I brain dump into one of the many notebooks I own, then they act as my operations manual for the week or month. A brain dump is simply the method of taking all the thoughts from your mind and transferring them to some other medium like a notebook, brain dump journal, or to-do list on your computer.
The way I see a brain dump is that it’s like going from the way you feel when you try to walk through a massive crowd of people to finally get to the other side where you can breathe again. Brain dumps put information in a more manageable format. They help with time management, memory, and productivity, thanks to being able to better prioritise information that was once a muddle.
How to keep a brain dump journal
Whether you keep a brain dump bullet journal, notebook or even a word document, the premise is still the same; it’s all about dumping first and then sorting later. Here’s how I do a brain dump:
- I get one of my many notebooks and write anything and everything that comes to my mind. I categorise my thoughts under the following headings – work, family, house, health, friends, hobbies. You might want to write your brain dump as a mind map, but whichever way you do it, make sure you write down everything and then worry about sorting it out later.
- I usually know I’m finished with my brain dump when my mind feels lighter; it’s a great feeling to make the transfer!
- Once everything is out of my mind and onto paper, I put it into some order so that I can implement what needs doing.
- I transfer my brain dump onto a list and prioritise each item into either ‘Today’, ‘Must Do’, ‘Important but not urgent’, ‘Maybe later’.
- Once this prioritisation is complete, I give myself a break and come back later to schedule the items in my Google Calendar. I start actioning the ‘today’ items so I can tick them off.
Remember, brain dumping is about relieving stress, so don’t put more pressure on yourself with high expectations of needing to action all of the items straight away. Be realistic with your time.
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How often should you brain dump?
There’s no rule about how often you should brain dump because it comes down to the individual and how much you’ve got going on. Although you will know when it’s time for a brain dump because you will feel the overwhelm in your mind, you’ll know when it’s time to ease the pressure. If you don’t want it to get to the point of overwhelm, aim to do a brain dump more regularly whether that be at the beginning of each week or even daily; this will give better focus and a lighter feeling.
Brain dumping benefits
It is incredible how something so simple can feel so good; I think we do underestimate the power our mind can have over us. When we listen to our mind and release the pressure with brain dumping benefits, include:
- A reduction in stress
- A quieter mind
- Less anxiety because thoughts are released and being actioned.
- Better productivity
- A better memory
- Increased focus because you’ve removed the clutter
- Organised thoughts that make sense
- Regained control, great if you’ve got anxiety.
- Better cognitive function
- Better memory and recall known as the modality effect
- Being more likely to achieve your goals because taking notes is a more effective learning aid.
- Helping to create a growth mindset through a better understanding of thoughts and abilities.
Brain dumping is more than just writing a ‘to-do’ list; it’s releasing every tiny piece of information from your mind; like clearing the cache on your computer. A brain dump transfers thoughts and ideas to a place where they can be actioned. When written down, thoughts and ideas can be viewed from a different perspective, and they can be better managed, a huge benefit for mental health.
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