In this post I will be giving you my step-by-step method on how to do a brain dump. Sometimes our mind becomes overrun with thoughts such as things we need to do, things we need to discuss and things we want to create. By getting all of your thoughts out of our mind and onto paper you can give yourself a clear understanding of what you need to focus on and what areas of your life are causing your the most stress.
When doing a brain dump, the idea is to basically write down all of those thoughts taking up space in your mind and weighing you down. It can be the smallest thing such as booking a dentist appointment or watching a programme on Netflix that everyone is raving about, or a book you’ve been meaning to read. Or maybe a fall out with someone which is still taking up space in your mind.
Doing a brain dump is such an easy but powerful way to get some head space, reduce stress and get some clarity on what your next steps should be.
Step 1: Grab a pen and paper
I recommend writing your brain dump instead of doing it digitally, so grab a pen and paper and write down everything which is on your mind. Write down anything you need to do, appointments you need to make, things you need to discuss with people, any ideas you have, any goals and projects you’re currently working on. This can be things related to your home life, your family life, your health, your career or your future.
Now you want this to be messy, in fact in needs to be messy! So don’t try to make this look cute, the idea is to have a messy page but a clear mind. Write down everything which is taking up space in your mind, this can be both positive and negative thoughts. Remember, it can be the smallest thing such as booking a dentist appointment or a new book you want to read.
Step 2: Categorise your brain dump
The next step is to categorise your brain dump. You can choose whichever categories you like and whichever categories work best for you. The reason behind categorising your brain dump is to make sense of which areas of your life need attention and which areas are causing you the most stress in your life. By reviewing what you have written down you can decide which thoughts you need to take action on and which thoughts can be dismissed. Some category suggestions are:
If you’re working on any particular projects then you can use the project name as a category, for example if you’re starting a blog then you can have “blog” as a category. Or if you are working on a project in your garden then you can have “garden” as a category name. There really isn’t any right or wrong here, do what makes sense to you. One way to layout your categories is by having one category per page and then writing the name of the category at the top of the page.
Step 3: Action your brain dump
Once you have chosen your categories, write the category names at the top a new blank page, I suggest having a minimum of one page per category. Then, using a pen or pencil, divide the page into quarters, each quarter will be used for the following actions:
- To eliminate
- To create
- To discuss
These are the actions which I like to use when doing brain dumps, however you can of course change these to whatever works best for you. Another idea for action titles are:
For a detailed explanation on how I do a brain dump watch this video! By doing this you can bring some structure to your brain dump and work out which thoughts are a priority and which thoughts are irrelevant and can be dismissed.
Step 4: Prioritise your brain dump
Once you have completed step three of your brain dump, take a look at your pages and highlight or mark any notes which are a priority to you and which you want to action straight away. Whenever you feel overwhelmed and life is getting out of balance, come back to this exercise to get yourself into a more comfortable and less overwhelming place.
The video below is part of my 7 Day Simplify Your Life Series, take a look for a more detailed explanation on how to do a brain dump.
Have you ever done a brain dump? What are your thoughts, did you find it helpful?