Do you often go to bed thinking about all the things you have to do the next morning?
Do you wish there was some way to declutter your mind before sleeping or before studying?
What if I told you there is?
That’s exactly what a brain dump is. Let´s go over what a brain dump is, how to do it and why it´s good for you!
How to Declutter Your Mind with a Brain Dump
What is a brain dump?
A brain dump is the action of putting all of your thoughts, to-do lists, and worries in the same place. It can be a single piece of paper, a bullet journal, or a worksheet.
Doing a brain dump is simple. Whenever you feel like there are a lot of things occupying your mind and preventing you from doing a task, you “dump” them in a paper, or in your notes apps if you prefer, to empty your mind.
The purpose of a brain dump, besides helping you get a lot of stuff out of your head, is to help you organize those thoughts.
Although the name can be a little confusing, and honestly, little appealing, a brain dump is the same thing as a mind map or brain declutter.
The point is the same, to gather all of your ideas on paper to help you get focused and organized.
How can you do a brain dump?
1. Look for your supplies
You can use an individual sheet or a page in your bullet journal for your brain dump. Any pencil and paper will do, but honestly, colored pencils make the whole experience a lot more fun.
The old-school method’s benefit is that it allows you to rest from looking at your screen.
If you want your notes to be saved to the cloud on the internet, you can use Google Docs to do your brain dump.
2. Write things down
Set a timer if you are short on time. Now, you need to write everything down… EVERYTHING or anything that you need to get out of your mind. Do it without a filter, form, or logic.
Is something bothering you? Write it down!
You’ve got something to do? Write it down!
Need to organize your thoughts? Write them down!
Basically, there isn’t anything that wouldn´t belong in your brain dump as long as it is in your mind and you need to get it out.
It can be a list, a paragraph, or a doodle.
Brain dump prompts
If you need a little help figuring out what you need to get out of your mind, here are some brain dump prompts to help you write your thoughts on paper:
- What’s worrying you?
- Is it something you absolutely need to do?
- Is it a problem? Is there a solution? Can you deal with it now? No?
- Is there something stressful that you are avoiding?
- Are feeling ok? Are you taking care of yourself?
- Do you have any goal that is scaring you?
- Do you have clear goals for this month?
- Do you need a break? Is there something overwhelming you?
3. After a brain dump
After you’ve attended your priorities, you can return to your thoughts recollections to study them.
Study what you wrote down first: Does it look like a to-do list? Is it a group of worries?
Classify and organize the thoughts and ideas written in your brain dump by categories. You can use as many categories as you need. For example:
- School assignments
- New projects
- Meal Prep
And so on.
After classifying and dividing your thoughts, tasks, and ideas, it is time to decide which ones need further action. What’s important and what’s not?
Break the big projects into small tasks so you don’t get overwhelmed and you have an action plan. Also, you’ll need to organize your tasks and to-dos by date. You can learn how to schedule your goals here.
For example, you may have different things to do like calling someone, cleaning the house, and studying for your class.
Organize them as priorities, by order of importance and urgency. You can decide studying comes first, calling your friend can wait until night and cleaning the house can wait until the weekend.
Whenever you complete something, cross it out from your list.
You can check out this post about how to establish priorities without going insane.
How brain dump works
The idea behind a brain dump is the same as getting something out of your chest by talking, except that you write it on paper.
You empty your mind and put aside the thousands of things you must do, so you can focus on the one you are doing at the moment.
Also, you are making sure that you aren’t forgetting about the rest of the things on your mind.
The thing is, usually, your mind is a tornado of ideas because you are afraid to forget them (and most of the time you do).
However, when you write down all of those thoughts, you rely on the fact that they are written somewhere. Not only you are making sure you don’t forget them, but you are giving priority to your current task.
Moreover, a brain dump serves as a quick momentarily venting method. It lets your mind take a break. If you are feeling too many things at once, but you don’t have anyone to talk to, you can vent them through paper, so you can explore them.
When do you do a brain dump?
When is the correct time to do a brain dump is up to you. You can do a brain dump as much as you need it.
The moment depends on the situation you are in. Most people do a brain dump before sleeping so they can empty their minds before sleeping.
On the other hand, students often need to do a braindump when they are studying for a specific class, and thoughts about other class assignments keep crossing their heads.
You can do this thought recollection whenever it feels right. You can even carry a small notebook with you so you can write your ideas when you are on the go.
The time is right to do a brain dump if:
- You are feeling overwhelmed
- You have too many ideas on your mind
- You have to focus on a single thing and other things are distracting you
- You need to put a name to a feeling or sensation you are experimenting
- You have too many things to do
- You are feeling burnt out
- You are feeling anxious
- There is something you don’t want to forget
- You have an upcoming project
You can do a brain dump multiple times in a week or just whenever you need it, even if it is once a year.
For how long should you brain dump?
Decluttering your mind might take a little while if you are not sure where to start.
However, your brain dump session could take as short as 30 seconds or one minute.
It all depends on how many thoughts and ideas you need to get out of your mind and the time you have available to do so. You can even use a timer if you just have only a few minutes a day to do this exercise.
The important thing is your session shouldn’t finish before you’ve emptied your mind completely.
The benefits of doing a brain dump
From relieving your anxiety to helping you keep you focused on your to-do list, doing a brain dump is beneficial for you.
If you are not sure how a brain dump could possibly help you out, here are some reasons why you should do it:
Reduce your anxiety and stress
When you are doing a brain dump, you are doing an exercise of mental self-care. You are cleaning out your mind and you are blowing off some steam, letting your mind breathe.
Also, it helps to reduce your anxiety, as you can stop your mind from spinning around twenty different scenarios and tasks since you write them down. You are signaling your brain that when the time is right, you’ll develop a plan to work on them. This also reduces your stress.
Helps you stay mindful
Your head has probably been full with thoughts about the upcoming future more than once. Doing the exercise to get those thoughts out of your head to keep your mind on what is going on in the present is a way of staying mindful.
In other words, you are consciously deciding to live in the present.
Improves your memory
It is proven that writing down something helps you to remember it better. Constantly pondering things because you are afraid to forget them is a hassle and it takes the focus away from the present.
Yet, writing your thoughts down allows you not only to stay present and focused, but it serves later as a reminder of what needs to be done.
Helps you to be more productive
You’ve probably noticed by now that multitasking doesn’t work, or at least not as perfect as we pretend it does. When you do a brain dump you learn to invest all of your energy in one thing at a time.
Also, you can remember all the important things you still have to do when the time is right.
Up to you
Having a lot of thoughts in your mind is overwhelming and stressful. Also, it makes it hard to concentrate.
Yet, doing a brain dump by writing everything down can help you. Such a powerful exercise only needs a pencil and paper.
There are different benefits to doing a brain dump like reducing your stress, staying mindful, being more productive, and improving your memory.
Remember there aren’t definite rules for doing your brain map. The important thing is to help you focus on what matters the most in your present.
Tell me, do you find brain dumps are a good way to declutter your mind?