Brain Dump: What it is and why it helps

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Have you heard the phrase “brain dump”? It’s one of my go to strategies when I’m feeling like life or my to do list is out of control and I’m dropping balls. You know the feeling, all the kids and pets need something, the house is a mess, you forgot to mail that birthday card, and your work tasks are piling up. It’s all just too much sometimes, right? That’s the kind of situation that warrants a brain dump.

What's a brain dump and how it helps you manage all the things.

What is a Brain Dump?

A Brain Dump is simple. It’s taking a deep breath, a paper, a pen, and letting it alllllll out. It may seem counterproductive to stop and breath and write when there are a million ACTUAL things to do, but it’s not. There are actually a lot of benefits to doing a brain dump.

Benefits of a Brain Dump

If you’re struggling with being overwhelmed or anxious, doing this activity might just be what you need to calm down and get a handle on life.

Get your brain dump on and handle the problems weighing you down.

Dumping out the contents of your brain on a paper feels so good, provides perspective, and literally allows you to declutter your mind. Once it’s on paper, it can be dealt with strategically (more on this in a minute).

It’s almost like it’s taking the chaos in your head and reframing it so it can be conquered, or at least viewed from another perspective.

How to Brain Dump

Wondering exactly how to do a brain dump? It’s quite simple.

  1. Get paper and a pen.
  2. Write down everything in your brain.

Literally dump the contents of your brain out onto the paper. You can set a timer if you’d like, or just write until you run out of steam.

paper and pen are my favorite ways to make lists

If you’re not a paper and pen type of person, you can probably use your phone or computer, but there’s just something about the physical act of putting a pen to paper that’s cathartic to me. It allows me to focus on matching my mental and physical energy and quickly and simply format with no clicking and entering. Voice-to-text might be a good middle-ground option.

There are no topics or rules for your brain dump, but you can be specific or directional, if you feel the need. If you’ve got a million things on your to do list, maybe your dump will focus on writing all those tasks out. If you’re feeling anxious or upset about a situation, dump all that out.

Some people even have special notebooks dedicated to dumps. If you try a dump and love it, go grab yourself a notebook, otherwise it’s not really necessary — any old paper will do!

Make Your Dump Work for You

Have you heard the saying, “A goal without a plan is just a wish”? That kind of applies to brain dumps, too. Dumping all your thoughts, ideas, and stressors out is a stress reliever on its own and sometimes you can stop there and move on.

But, you can also you can also take your list a step further and use your dump to direct your actions and choices — taking it from a simple vent session to an actual plan to help solve your problems.

After you’ve done your mental dump, evaluate the list you created. Which items are under your control? Which can you deal with? Which are outside of your control? Which can you ignore?

A To Do Dump

If the dump list you’ve created are tasks you’ve got to complete, turn them into a plan instead of a ball of stress. I use a notebook and write out the next few days of the week. I look at my list and assign items on the list to specific days of the week. Items that are a higher priority come first, followed by items I have more time to complete.

Items that are out of my control don’t make it on to my to do list, there’s not really a point to writing them aside from the relief they bring.

A Problem Dump

If the dump list you’ve created is a list of things that are upsetting you, take a break and walk away when you’re done writing. Come back to the list a little later and evaluate it logically. What problems can you solve? How can you solve them? What problems are not actually problems, just things you need to let go?

Your Brain Dump

Don’t let the world get you down. When it’s all feeling like too much, take a step back, take a deep breath, and write all the things that are bothering you. Brain dumps are quick and simple and sure to make you feel better. Either stop after you make the list and move on, or get strategic and plan out how you’re going to defeat your list.

Have you brain dumped or will you try it? I’d love to know! Leave a comment below!

The what, why, and how of brain dumps so you can stop worrying and start handling.

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