Ever written a long to-do list and thought, how will I get all this done? A long list of things to do can be quite stressful. It can cause overwhelm by just looking at it and wondering what to do.
We don’t all write down our lists. I used to keep a lot of the things I needed to do in my head which caused me to become anxious and feel like I had no time to do anything. In fact there are times I can sit and just worry about how much I have to do rather than take action on what I need to do. I feel overwhelmed just thinking and planning my to-do list. There may be times you feel this way too.
Feeling overwhelmed can come from having your long to-do list in your head. Storing all the things you want to do in your mind along with all your thoughts, problems and even solutions can cause anxiety, stress and overwhelm. Our minds are wonderful they hold so much information. Yet, one of the best things we can do for our mental health is a brain dump, write down all your ideas, thoughts and concerns to get them out of your head where we can organise them better.
What is a brain dump?
A brain dump is a way of releasing all the clutter from your mind, and all your thoughts. Effectively, it’s a way to organise your mind’s storage by emptying it and writing it down.
If you have too much on your mind you may start wondering what to do in what order and this can be overwhelming. This is where a brain dump can help. It helps you organize your long list of things to do.
When your list is getting too long overwhelm sets in, and it is time to evaluate and declutter your mind.
Literally, with a brain dump, you write down everything you are storing in your mind. A simple brain dump is healthy as it can stop you from being overwhelmed.
But I write daily to-do lists.
Even if you write daily to-do lists, a mind dump is healthy as you get to unload your thoughts and all those ideas you have stored in your mind. As your mind departs with thoughts it becomes lighter, freeing up space for creativity.
I write lists out of what I need to do, but I still have lists in my head. You know those little things you hear that you think will be good or that would be fun to learn or do. The little things take up space in your mind, which can reduce your productivity and creativity.
Our minds need space for creativity. Create space for creativity by unloading thoughts and ideas. Write them down.Angie@lifestyleanytime
A brain dump is a way to declutter your thoughts, the list in your head. This is so you can focus on the priorities in your life and what you need to do. Doing a brain dump helps you to organize your thoughts, and gain clarity, direction and focus.
How do you do a brain dump?
The easiest way to do a brain dump is to grab a journal, your diary or notebook or get the brain dump template. Also, grab your pens. The next step is to;
- write a list
- or do a mind map
- or draw pictures
- or write in columns on your to-do list
When you write, write the way that feels best to you. No one way is correct. There are days you might write a long to-do list. On other days use a mind map or drawings and focus on specific thoughts that are on your mind that are troubling you or stressing you out.
A mind dump list is not necessarily a creative, artistic design. Well, it isn’t for me as I’m not artistic. I tend to write a long list reserving the mind map for when I’m clearing my mind of a particular topic, like essay writing. More on that another time.
Write your list.
Some people can write a long to-do list with no prompts at all. Other people like prompts.
I know as I write I think of a few questions to clear my mind.
Other people sit down to write, and their mind goes blank, just like writer’s block. They hold the pen and sit and think and sit and think some more. Just as you want to write the list out, it feels like it has vanished. It hasn’t vanished it just needs a few questions to help you bring it to the forefront so that you can write it down.
Journal prompts to help declutter your mind.
- What tasks do I need to do?
- Are there some errands around home I keep delaying?
- What is keeping me up at night?
- Are there any birthdays or events I need to plan or buy for this month? What is happening at Christmas or special occasions? Do I need to make phone calls to discuss this?
- What ideas do I have to solve my problems?
- When is the car insurance due, or the house insurance?
- Are all policies up to date?
- How about the passports are they current, and ready for the next holiday?
- What are you studying right now, are there things you need to note about your study or study tips you need to write down?
- Do you need to add to your goals list? Tick some goals off, and add some goals.
- How about your big goal, what are your plans with them?
Sorting out your list.
Once you have completed your brain dump, you’re not finished. Yes, writing down everything you are holding onto will make you feel light, however, if you really want to tackle the list, grab your highlighters and start highlighting the list into categories for action.
Decide how you are going to categorize the list.
For example, general, business, family, study, and shopping.
Categorize as urgent, non-urgent, delegate and delete.
After you have decided how to categorize the list, it’s time to sort your to-do list.
add items to the to-do list, place on your agenda, delegate or delete.
As you go through your list, you will find many things to cross out or delegate. Thoughts you’ve been holding onto that you no longer need or have already actioned.
Part of organizing your list is simplifying it, and categorizing the items on your list. Use simple ways to prioritize your daily to-do list so that you take action on the important tasks and ideas.
I like to look at everything on my list and define what stresses me most. I then note how I can take action on that item or talk to someone about it.
Sometimes the action can be an immediate action like booking a podiatrist. Other times it is something I schedule into my diary for action, like talking to siteground about website hosting.
Some thoughts you note are maybe worrying thoughts. Add these to your worry journal. Writing down your worries in a worry journal could make your life better, you sleep better too, which results in a more productive day the following day.
How often should you brain dump?
Some people clear their minds every evening before they sleep. They write out their daily thoughts or worries. Other people do this weekly, fortnightly or monthly.
It is best to work with what suits you best, daily, weekly or fortnightly. If you feel stressed and overwhelmed, take a piece of paper or your journal and write your thoughts and the things you believe you need to do that are overwhelming you. You may be writing your own map that guides you to where you need to go.
When I first started blogging, I was taking in ideas from many experts in the field, and I started wondering what to do and in what order. The experts were all at different stages of their journey, so naturally, not everything applied immediately to where I was on my blogging journey. I often felt overwhelmed. By writing a list of everything I believed I needed to do, I could see what I needed now versus later down the track.
As I add to this list regularly, I see a blueprint of the path forward with blogging.
What is the point of writing a long to-do list – a mind dump list?
The main thing is to declutter your mind. Discard the thoughts that are holding space in your mind. Freeing space up in your mind allows you to focus more on your goals with less distraction.
Additionally, to be more productive, removing the list from your head and placing it into an organised system will help you get some of the items done. Once you have your list organised time block parts of your day to take action on the main goals you have on your list.
Better still, doing a brain dump regularly is a fantastic self-care habit. Great for your mental health.