It’s Time for a Dump….A Brain Dump That is!

Mar 22 / Pam Walrod

Can you relate? You have sooo many ideas you want to implement and you start to think about them and can get off your path and lose focus. I know this happens to me and if I don’t get them down on paper somehow, somewhere, my brain gets cluttered and I lose track of what I’m working on.

Some signs that you may want to do a brain dump:
  • You have a busy week and keep losing track of what you need to do and get done
  • Your “to-do” list has perhaps gotten so long you have given up
  • You feel like you are being pulled in many different directions and feel overwhelmed

I can get overwhelmed and if I keep everything in my head, I end up not doing anything or finding ways to avoid doing what I actually need to do!To free up spaciousness in your mind, sometimes a “brain dump” is in order. There are many ways to do this. I used to think that all my brain dump ideas needed to be neatly organized in my planner or project management tool or in a spreadsheet. I would spend a lot of time “setting up” a way to brain dump that when it came time to actually do it, I struggled. I have realized that there are many ways to get those ideas down on paper and that it doesn’t need to be perfect, just take action!

If you do like to be organized (which I do), you can do that later. When a creative idea comes forward, it’s important to acknowledge the idea and worry later about whether or not it fits in with your current goals and vision. Just set them free!

Doing a brain dump can also help with the thoughts that come at night and perhaps prevent you from falling asleep. Also, the act of putting your ideas into words will help you discern if it’s something you even want to take into consideration.

A brain dump is simply a way to move the ideas out of your head and onto paper. All the ideas that are creating overwhelm or perhaps keeping you up at night.  It’s a way to declutter your thoughts and get the focus back to what’s really important.

Putting everything on paper is powerful and also allows you to see all of your ideas and plans so you can organize your time to take actionable steps (if you determine you want to move forward). It’s fun to go back and see all of your ideas that you’ve had that you’ve put on the back burner or even forgotten about!

As you write everything down, you’ll start to feel the overwhelm lessening. You’ll be able to take a big breath and get focused again and take inspired action. How do you do a brain dump? Well, as mentioned before, there are many ways to do it and it doesn’t have to be perfect. I’ve realized it literally can be on a post-it note to get the idea out of my head. You can also keep a pad of paper (or post-it notes) near your bedside for those ideas that you think of in the middle of the night that you don’t want to forget.

For example, you can keep a notebook (I use my digital planner and have a digital notebook just for brain dumps). The key is to not put too much thought into what you’re writing down. Remember, you are getting things out of your head and onto paper at this point. If you think about it too long and the “how,” you’ll become even more overwhelmed.  Your list won’t be organized or pretty (as a detail-oriented, organized person I had to come to terms with this so I would do it).You can use post-it notes of all different sizes and jot down words that will trigger your memory of the idea. You can keep the post-it notes in a notebook. I have created a couple of layouts you can print and use. Go grab your Time for a Brain Dump Worksheets to help guide you!

You can also use a “dot grid” type of journal and colored pens and go to town, making it fun! You can doodle, make it look like a bullet journal, all kinds of ways. Whatever feels good to you!

A brain dump can seem overwhelming even when you get everything down on paper. What do you do with the information next? Using sticky notes has helped me. I get the smaller ones so more can fit on a page. Then, when I have my brainstorming session, I can look over the list and prioritize and figure out if this is a now or later idea or perhaps not an idea I want to pursue at all.

I’ve learned that taking a step back and reflecting on the idea before I move forward helps me avoid “shiny object syndrome” and lose focus.  So, once you figure out a system that works for you, organizing your ideas and exploring them routinely can help you determine your strategy and how-to (and if you want to pursue the idea now, for example). I like to schedule a brainstorming session, usually once a month. I put it on my calendar and schedule it as an appointment for myself. It’s a time where I can go through my ideas and think them through. I choose a day and time that energetically allows me to be creative and inspired. Usually this is on Monday’s for me.

Some questions you can ask yourself (pick and choose what speaks to you):
  • What is the goal of this idea? Does it match your current vision?
  • What does a rough timeline look like to accomplish? Days, weeks, months?
  • How much energy will it take to complete? Does it inspire you?
  • What is your desired result and does that motivate you to take action?
  • How can you break it down into smaller actionable steps?
  • Is it something you can add with ease?

This is where you can also go back and organize your list. For example, organizing it by home, personal, business, etc. Colored pens are definitely fun during this time! Start going down your list and putting the ideas in the category they belong to so you can get a bird’s eye view of what you have on your list(s). How you do a brain dump and organize it is unique to you! That’s key to making it work for you.

I have a tendency to have a “squirrel brain” and I can get distracted easily. Getting my ideas out of my head and on paper acknowledges that I have the idea and I can determine if it’s something I want to pursue right away or if it’s something for a week, a month, a year down the road. Doing a brain dump is a great way to get ideas out of your head and onto paper. It creates a spaciousness for new creative energy flow. It’s a tidying of the mind!  Grab your free brain dump guide here! 
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