Could a brain dump be the solution to your busy schedule? Do you sometimes feel like your brain has too many tabs and you can’t even remember how many let alone which ones need attention first?
Even with today’s time saving devices and apps you seem to be busier than ever and forgetting more things than ever before. You have so much to do and you don’t know where to start. You end up procrastinating and missing deadlines.
Why is your head so full of things to do? Is there a way of clearing things out and starting off with an organised and calm mind?
It is time for a brain dump.
What is a brain dump?
What is a brain dump anyway? Well I like to think of it as a way of decluttering my mind. It is too full of things and I can’t find anything. The brain is like a computer. If you have too many tabs open or too many apps and photos on your phone you know how difficult it is to locate that one item you need to find and the device is running slow as it needs to keep everything there and active.
When you delete photos or uninstall apps that you never use and don’t need, delete tabs you will never go back and read and suddenly you find the device is running smoother and with less information clogging it up you can locate what you need.
A brain dump is just like this for your mind. Instead of trying desperately to remember everything that needs to be done and when you empty it by writing down everything that is taking up space in your own memory.
It clears your mind and allows you to prioritise tasks and appointments that are urgent and plan out the rest according to importance. Maybe some things can be done in a few minutes and can be ticked off. That is a win.
When to do a brain dump
When do you do a brain dump? Some would say Friday morning as that is the end of the week and allows you the chance to allocate importance to items that need to be done today and the chance to complete these tasks within the working week. Any other tasks can be planned into the following week.
Most people do this as it is the last day of the working week for them and it is a way of ensuring the tasks for this week have been done.
Of course not all of us work glorious Monday to Friday hours and quite a few of us work split shifts so a working week may be 10 days or 3 or somewhere in between.
This is why the when to do it differs from person to person and the life situation you are currently in. There is no right or wrong time, it is the time that suits your needs right now.
Maybe you want to do it monthly and plan the upcoming month that way.
Personally, I like to do it Thursday evening as that allows me Friday to call, email or contact people or research something if I need to before the contact. It is like a clear out of the mind for the weekend.
This is just one way for me. Do I do it every Thursday? No. Sometimes I do it Sunday to start off the week so I know what needs to be done and by when. It may be before the holidays to ensure everything is done.
How to do a brain dump
Just write out everything which is on your mind of things you have to do, from the very small to the major tasks. If you have been meaning to read the book on your dresser then write it down on the list. Feel guilty about not contacting someone? Add it to the list.
This process will free up your mind to focus on the tasks you need to do. It is not time to organise your thoughts.
If you are working from home running your own business it can be hard to prioritise personal and work tasks. Are you responsible for your family and even relatives? There is a lot to remember.
Living on your own means it is all up to you to think and do everything. There is so much for one person to remember. It is no wonder we seem to be busy. A brain dump is for all of us.
The Five simple steps to do a brain dump
Step One: Get your tools ready
Grab your favourite pen or pencil and some paper, any scrap piece of paper. Highlighters / coloured pens or even colouring pencils.
Step Two: Whatever is on your mind that is taking up space, write it down.
Here are a few examples.
- Wash up
- Empty the dishwasher
- Load of laundry
- Pay utility bill
- Car insurance renewal
- Book in car for service
- Check bank statements
- Plan out meals for the week
- Check food stock and write shopping list
- Call relative
- Write thank you notes to people
- Research holiday destinations
- Back to school shopping
- Repair buttons on shirt
- Wash windows
- Email suppliers for information
- Update credit card details
- Plan out and organise upcoming presentation for work
- Clear out medication cabinet
- Clean out freezer
- Declutter clothes – donate or toss
- Book the spa trip for girls day out.
- Schedule dental appointments for family
The importance of taking a break
Step Three: Take a break
If you need to grab yourself some water or coffee or do something else right now this is the moment. When you come back to the list you are now ready to organise your thoughts.
Step Four: Assess and prioritise
Using the colour pens you have it is time to brighten up your list, for example:
- Green for personal tasks
- Red for urgent
- Pink for household
- Purple for work
- Yellow for people to contact via email, call or message.
- Orange for things to do
- Blue for family
Step Five: Start now and take action
Once you have filled out the brain dump planner page you can start smiling. That is the hard part done.
Now you can plan to take action. The urgent things that need to be done are your top priority and can be done now or as soon as it is possible. You may have to wait until office hours to call someone.
If you have done the list at home in the evening it means you know how the following day will start and what needs to be done first.
Is there anything you can do now to start ticking off the items? E.g. empty the dishwasher or do food inventory of the fridge and pantry. See what is out of date and what needs to be used. Make the grocery shopping list and buy only what you need.
Maybe it was to call a friend or family member and that can be done now.
You will find yourself more focused and productive with your time as you focus on one task at a time and attend the urgent tasks first.
Is a brain dump worth it?
The process of writing down all the things that are clogging up your mind is therapeutic in itself. A chance to declutter your brain and get rid of the fog and constant fear of what am I forgetting? There is too much to do and you don’t know what needs to be done first.
An integral part of this process is also organising them and prioritising the urgent ones. This allows you to complete these first. The other tasks can then be allocated to appropriate times or days when you can focus on them and reassured that you can complete them.
There will always be new items and ones that require your focus and attention right now and you will find yourself more confident and self assured that you can do it.
There is no one method that works for everyone and it is best to try out some different ones. Once you have found the one that suits you and your situation right now it will become a habit without you even realising it.
Who wouldn’t love to be more productive with the time they have and start enjoying the here and now in life, not worried about everything that needs to be done and the fear of not doing the critical things. Procrastination doesn’t have to take over your life.