Last week I shared An Exercise to Reduce Burnout (and More): Start a List of Every Single Thing You Do at Work. The goal of that exercise was to see ALL of your tasks in one place so you could prevent burnout, manage expectations, combat imposter syndrome, and realize your worth.
This week, I have a similar exercise for you, but this is more for times when your brain is completely overwhelmed with the things you need to do (or cluttered with things you just think you should do).
Despite being a big list-maker, there are still times when I cannot keep on top of things both professionally and personally – there is always that *one thing* that I remember at 2 o’clock in the morning.
That’s when I need to do a brain dump.
Brain dumps are very easy. You just write down pretty much everything that comes to your head.
There is no right or wrong way to do a brain dump. Some people like to fancy it up with different color pens and artistic fonts, but you do you.
I use a notepad and a pen I took from a hotel – decidedly NOT fancy.
While some will encourage you to just start writing, I draw a line down the middle of the paper. Then on one side I write work-related thoughts like simple to-dos or ideas for blog posts or webinars, etc. And on the other side is home-related ideas like make a doctor’s appointment, figure out the back yard, refill dog’s prescriptions, meal ideas, etc.
This way if I don’t do the next step, there is still some order to the dump.
Once you have all of your thoughts out, you then need to figure out how to organize them. You can transfer them to another to-do list, organize them by priority, or use sticky notes, a highlighter, or some type of color-coding system on the same piece of paper. Again, do what works for you.
Being someone who has anxiety, my brain is constantly “talking” to me which makes it hard to keep track of things. A brain dump helps me focus and get everything out. And usually, once I write it down, it gets done.
If you still aren’t quite sure where to start, Diary of a Journal Planner shares some prompts in How To Do A Brain Dump:
- What have you been worried about?
- What do you keep forgetting to do?
- Did something go wrong with your day/week?
- What really worked today/ this week?
- What tasks never seem to get done?
- Is there an upcoming event or special occasion?
- Are there any big goals you keep putting off that would make a big difference to your life. Maybe you want to take up yoga, start a new fitness routine or lose a few pounds.
- Is there something you would love to learn?
See more prompts in that post.
Some people brain dump daily or weekly. I only bran dump when I realize I have forgotten to do something multiple times or when I get that “AHHHHHH” feeling in my brain when it can’t hold another thing (or maybe that’s just me).
Let me know if you have tried brain dumping and how it worked for you!