How to brain Dump your messy thoughts
Personal Growth + Productivity

How to use Brain Dump & Sort out Messy Thoughts

The term brain dump has gained traction as one of the better ways to manage work-load and stress.

To put it simply, brain dump is the process of capturing your thoughts and ideas somewhere so as to lighten your brain load which frankly we all could do with.

This post will discuss about a four-step method brain dumping method to organize your thought process.

This technique will categorize your thoughts efficiently to help you function better.

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What is Brain Dump?

Author David Allen explains brain-dumping perfectly is book Making it All Work, “If it’s on your mind, write it down or record it somehow in a concrete way… as long as you get them out of your head and have them all in some way easily accessible for review.”

Our brain is a store-house of information. It constantly absorbs and feeds us information.

If you observe yourself you are constantly thinking – “I have to make that call,” “I’ll be late for work today,” “Why didn’t he call me?” Sounds familiar?

Whenever you are not engaged in any activity you are thinking.

Your brain is dealing with multiple thoughts at a time, pertaining to you personal life, your dreams, life plans, work or random things.

But just like rest of the body our brain also gets tired and a messy brain only increases your risk of forgetting tiny details.

So if you have a good brain dumping system in place where you could just put out all your thoughts, your brain will thank you for it.

 The 4-step Brain Dumping Method

My brain has too many tabs open


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Write down your thoughts

Note down each and every thought pertaining to your personal or professional space.

You can use a simple pen and paper or an app but make sure your write everything down.

This will help to connect you with your thoughts and give you a mental clarity.

Prioritize and Label Thoughts

The next step of brain dumping is to prioritize your thoughts on basis of urgency because there are some things which have to be done as soon as possible while others can be attended later.

Put your thoughts into different categories.

You can refer to the labeling method given below.

1. High Priority tasks

2. Important tasks

3. Negative thoughts

4. Positive thoughts

5. Creative Ideas

6. Goals

7. Bucketlist

I have a brain-dumping planner in my Resource library you can download it for absolutely free and use it to categorize your thoughts better.

Along with this there are multiple other planners to help you organize your life better.

brain dump list


High Priority and Important tasks

High-priority tasks and important tasks are usually the tasks that have to be completed on an urgent basis.

These are also the tasks that would make up your daily to-do list.

Most of us procrastinate on these important tasks, a brain-dump will act as a constant reminder.

Negative and Positive thoughts

Negativity is a part of every human life, we all experience it.

But the effect of negative thoughts is immense it leads to self-doubt and a general overwhelm.

Brain-dump all your negative thoughts and replace it with a positive one.

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Goals and Bucketlist

As you may have guessed goals are related to your life-plans and setting personal milestones for yourself.

I like the idea of goal-setting with brain dumping because it gives me a purpose and keeps me focused.

One advice that I have read frequently is when using brain-dumping you must pay equal attention to your wish-list, since those dreams and wishes are equally important.

Color-code for Brain Dump

If you are using a notebook or a bullet journal and wish to be more specific, you can use the color-coded method for brain dumping where you use a different color for each of your thoughts.

Like if personal thoughts are be written in red ink, you can use blue ink while noting down your work-related stuff. But I find this method a little time-taking instead I have different notebooks.

There’s one where I write down everything literally everything! For my work-related things I maintain separate notebooks.

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The last step is to evaluate your thought process.

It is so important to reflect on your thought process, especially if you are having negative emotions.

Most of the times you’ll see that your fears are unfounded; also at times it just helps you to de-stress.

Secondly, you may find that some tasks are unnecessarily bothering you.

A periodic evaluation of your achievements, no matter how small these are, will motivate you so much.

Do consider a weekly or monthly evaluation of your goals and achievements with brain-dumping.

Brain dump V/S to-do list

Many of us confuse brain dumping with creating to-do lists.

The simple difference between the two can be summed up as your to-do lists can never be brain dumping but only a part of it.

Brain-dumping is basically writing down all thoughts, ideas and tasks that has been nagging you and everything you want to do while your task list is things you need to do on a particular day or week.

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Brain Dumping Prompts

These are some common brain dumping prompts you can use to sort out your thought process please feel free to alter these or add some of your own questions. These prompts are very similar to journal prompts.

– What am I worried about?

– Incidents that affected my peace this day/week

– People who bother me

– What made me happy today/this week?

-What I have to do urgently this week/day

-What do I keep on forgetting frequently?

-What home-tasks I have to complete this week/month?

-What office related tasks I have to complete this week/month?

-How can I divide my time between tasks?

-What I want in life?

-What do I want to achieve this year?

-Setting Goals for each year/month

-How can I tweak my daily routine?

-Social events I have to attend this month

-Tasks I didn’t get time to do

-People who have to call back/ whom I have been meaning to call

Brain-dumping prevents brain fog

Sometimes when you have some urgent work to do and you don’t complete it your brain time and again reminds you to do it.

This at times it results in a lot of build-up stress that remains till you complete that important task.

A brain dump would be helpful to give you a sense of clarity and prevent brain fog, a situation where your brain cannot think as it’s too tired.

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Helps in preventing memory slips

There are some tasks we absolutely need to do on a daily basis.

Like attending office, travelling for work, eating our food, cooking, bathing and so on.

Along with these daily obligatory tasks there are some other additional tasks you might need to attend to.

Your brain is constantly keeping an account of what tasks you have done, what you need to do or any problem you are experiencing.

But unfortunately our brain is not programmed to handle so much information.

Whenever there are too many things going in your mind some tiny details may slip from your memory.

A brain dump in such situations will help you to remember things.

Problem solving and stress-management

I rely on brain dump a lot when it comes to problem-solving and taking some stream off my mind.

Every time I come up with a problem both in my profession and personal space I write it down on a notebook in as much details as possible.

Like for example – what is the issue I am facing? Why and how is it affecting me? So through this self-questioning and answering process every-time I come up with a solution.

To put aptly this method helps me in untangling all those knots in my brain and lets me breathe easy.

Later I feel so embarrassed with my rants but nevertheless it helps.

If any of this makes sense to you then I would really urge you to try this method of writing your problems.

Whenever you feel too stressed or bogged down by life in general try writing down your problems, deep down you will discover an answer.

Becomes a Reference Point

A very important benefit of brain dumping is that it becomes your reference point for things.

Like I have already mentioned it helps you from forgetting stuff.

You can always refer to your notes for future tasks as well.

Even when you feel demotivated with some tasks you can always refer to your brain dump notes and remember why you started in the first place.

Final Thoughts

If you want to set up an organized system of managing things with unobstructed workflows in place, use the brain dump method, it is really gives a clarity to the thought process and improves your productivity.

The best part about this method is that you can apply it in any situation.

You could be a student, a business-owner, professional or a home-maker and use this method to let some worry off your shoulders.

So here we are at the end of this post hope you enjoyed it.

Before leaving please don’t forget to get you free brain dump planner from the resource library.


  • Kendra | Self-Care Overload

    Great read! Brain dumping is one of the most satisfying things to do when you have a mind full of clutter. I appreciate all of the amazing information listed here. Especially, prioritizing your tasks. It makes things so much better when you have put your tasks in order and it also allows your brain to have relief when knowing you don’t have to worry about everything at once. Thanks for sharing these tips!

    Kendra | Self-Care Overload

  • Beth Gray

    Great post about brain-dumping – I do this regularly before going to bed, if I find my mind is still too active. Then, in the morning, I come back and read through it all, and take what is important for getting done.

    It certainly quietens down the monkey mind!

  • Honey Reyes

    A benefit that I found from this is that when I notice I keep dumping the same item over and over and it never gets done, I am able to remove it from my to-do list because I can visibly see how many weeks it failed to be a priority for me.

  • Kaye

    Did try doing this but maybe understood it wrong, but now thanks to your post I have realized that Brain Dump is not the same as to do list, and should never be. Thank you for the information.

    Amalog –

  • Jamilyn

    I have so many thoughts as it is, and I need a strategy to keep them all together. I think I will give it a try. Most of the time, I leave the creative side to my husband for new material, but I need to get good at this too! Thanks for sharing!

  • amy

    Lengthy, but comprehensive! I enjoyed reading this post and picked up quite a few tips. You
    highlighted the practical uses and benefits of brain dumps really well. Everyone ought to do it!

  • Nancy

    I am all about brain dumps! I write down everything so I avoid forgetting. Having a mind map works as well. Thanks for sharing all of these tips for putting together a brain dump. I pretty much do the same thing. It makes it so much easier to focus on other tasks. Thanks for sharing!

    Nancy ♥