Ever written a long to do list and thought, how am I going to get all this done? A long list is quite stressful. It can cause overwhelm by just looking at it wondering what to do. What? your long to do list is not visual, it’s 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. It is great, our minds are wonderful they hold so much information. Yet, one of the best things we can do for our own mental health is a brain dump.
What is a brain dump?
A brain dump is a way of releasing all the clutter from your mind, all your thoughts. Effectively, it’s a way to organise your minds storage by emptying it and writing it down.
However, if you have too much on your mind it may start wondering what to do in what order and this can be overwhelming.
When your list is getting too long and overwhelm sets in, it is time to evaluate, declutter your mind and your thoughts. One way to do this is to use a technique known as a brain dump.
Literally, with a brain dump, you write down everything you are storing in your mind.
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. 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 that will be good or that would be fun to learn or do. The little things take up space in your mind, that can reduce your productivity.
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, gain clarity, direction and focus.
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How do you do a brain dump?
The easiest way to do a brain dump is to grab a journal, your diary or notebook. Also, grab your pens. The next step is to write.
- write a list
- do a mind map
- draw pictures
- 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, 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.
Prompts to help with your brain dump?
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 as to clear my mind.
Other people sit down to write and their mind goes blank, just like writers’ 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 you can write it down.
Here are a few prompting questions.
- 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? 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, ready for the next holiday?
- What are you studying right now, are there things you need to note about your study?
- Do you need to add to your goals list? Tick some goals off, 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, shopping.
Next categories the items to add to the to do list, place in 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.
Related post: Simple ways to prioritize your daily to do list.
I like to look at everything on my list and define what is stressing me out the most. I then look at 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 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.
Related post: 5 ways to start a personal journal.
How often should you brain dump?
Some people clear their mind 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 begin to 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 effectively be writing your own map that guides you 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, 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 was able to 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. By 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 into an organised system will mean it will most likely get done.
Better still, doing a brain dump regularly is a fantastic self care habit to have. Great for your mental health.
Have you ever done a brain dump?
Angie blogs about setting goals and mastering habits as well as productivity and living abroad. She started blogging while learning the skills to start an online business. Her goal to work online came about due to wanting to see overseas family and travel around Australia. Her mission is to help others succeed with their goals. Angie often shares tips and tricks while walking the beaches or near the lake on the Central Coast NSW Australia.