Have you heard of a “brain dump”?
It’s a very effective exercise to help you clear your mind and allow you to focus with less distractions on one particular task.
The big problem a brain dump addresses is the fact that you have constant thoughts, ideas, questions, and concerns running through your brain. A brain dump allows you to consciously address them, get them on paper, and thus keep them from distracting while you're working on something else. You won't be interrupted by that pesky thought of, "Oh yeah, I need to pay the water bill today"and then leave your important goal to go and do that task.
It's the interruptions that kill your creativity and you need to have a way to deal with the constant thoughts your brain will come up with to try and get you to do something else besides working on your important goal.
The other benefit of doing a brain dump is that it's a great way to deal with feeling overwhelmed or stressed and it'll allow you to figure out what's the most important thing for you to work on first.
Here's What To Do:
A brain dump is deceptively simple. All you need to do is get a notebook, a pen, and set aside a little quiet time to do it. If you’re more comfortable typing, open a word document or your calendar or some other application you use to store information. That being said, there is some real value in going the old-fashioned way of pen and paper.
Start writing everything that comes to mind. Don’t judge, don’t edit, and don’t skip over anything. Any ideas for projects, to-dos, and the likes go in the notebook. Don’t try to sort or organize them. Just let them flow from your brain to the paper. Of course you don’t have to write down random thoughts. The idea is to get all those project ideas, things you want to do around the house, new strategies you want to try at work, or even that idea you had for a novel. Order and topic don’t matter. The fact that you want to start jogging again can go right next to that list of potential new clients you want to type up.
Take your time, don’t force it and take a breather ever now and again. This exercise can be quite exhausting, but it is incredibly helpful and freeing. Think of it like a reboot for your brain that dumps all the RAM memory. It frees up a lot of space and helps you focus on the tasks that are truly important without being distracted by random thoughts.
A Cure For Insomnia?
If you find you can't sleep at night because you have too many thoughts running through your brain, get up and do a quick brain dump then and you'll find that you can sleep easier because you don't have to try to remember all the things your brain is churning around and around in your mind.
What Do I Do With It Afterwards?
What you do with your brain dump is up to you. You can simply tear out the pages and stick them in a drawer. There’s value in the simple act of dumping them out of your brain.
You can also go through your brain dump pages a few days later and make lists of what you want to do and focus on. For example, you may make a list of good work related ideas that you should try to implement over the coming weeks. You may also decide to cross out and disregard a lot of what you’ve written down and that’s ok too. Another list could capture any home improvement type projects you thought of that are worth pursuing.
Going through your brain dump like this allows you to sort and categorize the information into a format that you can work with, one task at a time. This is much more productive than having those random thoughts running through your head, taking up valuable brain space.
Store All Your Thoughts In One Place
Jessica Abel suggests that you create a system and store all your thoughts in one place. She says if you do this then your brain trusts that you won't lose any of your thoughts and can truly let it go from your mind. She also provides a list of a few different tracking tools that she uses in order to this.
Miss Trenchcoat in the video below uses a planner to store all her thoughts in different categories. She also provides a helpful Triggers List.
Brain Dump Summary
Try a brain dump and work with the different methods to see which one works best for you whether that's storing everything in your calendar or if you just need a pad of paper. You'll feel like a huge sense of quietness when you've got everything out. You no longer have to keep telling yourself to remember something. Plus, you won't lose all those great creative thoughts that are so quick to disappear if you don't write them down.
I hope you give this brain dump technique a try. Don’t just do it once and be done. Continual brain dumps will help you stay focused and productive.
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