Have you ever noticed that the more items you have on your to-do list, the more overwhelmed you start to feel and the less you manage to get done? This is actually quite a common occurrence for many people. What’s happening is that your brain simply isn’t able to process all of this information, so it shuts itself down. When that happens, you tend to forget everything and get nothing done. One way to overcome this overwhelm is to through what is known as a brain dump.
This exercise has helped get me back on the track to productivity countless times, and I’m happy to share how it works with you.
What Exactly Is A Brain Dump?
So, what is a brain dump? Well consider this, when you have a lot on your plate, all that stuff tends to swirl around in your head. Thoughts of that project you have going on at work, the bills that need to be paid, the kids’ activities you have to manage, and your own social obligations are all competing for attention.
It can all get to be too much and can lead to paralysis in which not much gets accomplished at all. A brain dump is pretty much just what it sounds like. It’s a way to take all those random thoughts and dump them out of your head, making room for clearer thinking.
You can do this in a wide variety of ways. Some folks like the process of putting pen to paper, while others would prefer to do things electronically with a brain dump app. There are also a number of strategies you can use to organize your brain dump. It’s a very personal process.
Why You Should Consider Doing A Brain Dump
There are many reasons you might want to consider doing a brain dump. I think it’s important to talk about this part of the process so that you may more readily recognize the need to get things out of your head. After all, the process can’t be effective if you don’t use it. Therefore, let’s take a look at the types of issues that may prompt you to sit down and purge your mind of useless clutter.
Whenever you feel you are procrastinating on a particular task, a brain dump may be in order. Once you move the junk out of your head, you can better focus on what you need to do.
Another great time is when you’re feeling overwhelmed by clutter. This can be physical or mental clutter. Dumping the mental mess is kind of the point of a brain dump, but physical clutter in your environment can be prohibitive to productivity also, causing you to shut down. Sometimes it’s good to clear your head before you begin a big project. It’s a great way to reset and start fresh. Any time you’re feeling out of sorts might be an indicator that dumping is necessary.
Steps To Performing A Brain Dump
First, you can start by simply dumping everything that’s on your mind into a list. That gets it out of your mind. However, a giant list of tasks, thoughts and ideas may be just as overwhelming as having it all swimming in your mind.
That’s why your next step should be to organize the information. You can do this in any way that makes sense to you. Remember, brain dumping is a personal process that should be meaningful to you in order to be effective.
One way I’ve found that works is to break things down into categories. You could try “Must”, “Need” and “Maybe.” Some folks might like to organize their lists in terms of time, such as “Today”, “This Week” and “This Month.” Experiment to find what works for you. When transferring items from your original lists to their appropriate categories, keep in mind that it’s fine to delete things entirely. If you’ve written something down that doesn’t need to be done, throw it out.
Once your lists are made, you can get to work on completing them. Cross things off as you get them done. Reassess regularly and move things around as needed. Give a brain dump a try. I have a feeling you’ll find it quite helpful.