How to use Brain Dump to sort out your Messy Thoughts

How to use Brain Dump to sort out your Messy Thoughts

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If you are obsessed with organization, planning and productivity you must have come across this term brain-dump. 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.

Here in this post I will tell you about a four-step method to practice brain-dump and sort out your thought process. The motive of brain dump is to make your more organised and productive and the process starts with your sorting out your thoughts, a messy brain only increases your risk of living an unfulfilled life, unless you are a maverick creative genius.

Time-management expert and author David Allen puts it perfectly in his book Making it All Work, “If it’s on your mind, write it down or record it somehow in a concrete way. It doesn’t matter how you capture these thoughts, as long as you get them out of your head and have them all in some way easily accessible for review.”

What is Brain Dump?

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

Our brain is a store-house of information. It constantly absorbs and feeds us information and accordingly we go on about our tasks.

If you observe yourself you are constantly thinking – “I have to make that call,” “I have to go now or I’ll be late or work,” “I have to finish that chapter by today,” “I have to have my dinner now.” Sounds familiar? So your brain is constantly buzzing.

Whenever you are not engaged in any activity you are thinking, which is nothing but your brain instructing and reminding you about the work you have to do.

But just like rest of the body our brain too gets tired with the all that information. So if you have a system in place where you could just put it all out your brain will thank you for it. Secondly it will help you to create a better task-management system.

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 The 4-step Brain Dump Method

Write everything down: Whether you use a simple pen and paper method or an app note down each and every thought pertaining to your personal or professional space.

This will ease your brain load as well as connect you with your thoughts. You will be more aware of what you really want and how to achieve your goals.

Sort out your thoughts: Once you are done writing, the next step is sorting out your thoughts. Categorization of your thoughts helps you to be more organized. You sort out your thoughts into categories such as goals, wishlist, work etc.

If you are using a notebook and you wish to be more specific, you can use the colour-coded method where you use a different colour for each of your thoughts. Like personal thoughts will be written in a particular colour while you can use a new ink colour when penning down your work-related stuff or your wishlist.

But I find this method a little time-taking instead I have different notebooks there is one where I write down everything literally everything! I use it for some classic brain dumping. There are separate notebooks for work, creating lists and other personal things.

Prioritize your thoughts: Once you through with the sorting process you can prioritize your tasks on basis of urgency. There are some things which have to be done as soon as possible while others can be attended later. Also there are some stuff related to your goals and dreams so before putting your thoughts into sections you can refer to this method I find really useful.

Labelling your thoughts and tasks:

  • High Priority tasks
  • Important tasks
  • Negative thoughts
  • Positive thoughts
  • Creative Ideas
  • Goals
  • Bucketlist

This is how I label my thoughts and please feel free to use this or modify/change these labels as per your convenience.

Evaluate: It so important to reflect on your thoughts, especially any negativity you might be experiencing should be written down. Most of the time you will see that your fears are unfounded; also at times it will just help you to de-stress.

When you are examining your list you may also find some tasks that are unnecessarily bothering you when in reality you won’t even need to do or be worried about those tasks.

I would also love to share with you guys how I categorize my thoughts, ideas and using the brain-dumping method.

High Priority and Important tasks: High-priority tasks and important tasks are usually related to my blog, freelancing or personal work like budget, utility bills etc. So these tasks have to be completed on an urgent basis and most of these tasks make-up for my daily to do-list.

Negative and Positive thoughts: Negativity is a part of every human life, we all experience it and I am no different. I like to jot down negative thoughts to get rid of any toxic vibe affecting my system.

Similarly for every negative thought there is a positive thought. I am a big believer in positive affirmations and writing those down helps me so much mentally.

Goals and Bucketlist: As you may have guessed goals are always related to setting personal milestones for yourself. I like the idea of goal-setting because it gives me a purpose and keeps me focussed. 

Bucketlist is again a wish-list of all the books I want to read and movies I have to watch or things I really need to purchase (mostly stationery items) and so on.

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

Another important part that comes after the brain dumping method is to evaluate how far you have progressed. A time to time 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.

If you fail to achieve your goals or haven’t made much progress towards your goals don’t get demotivated and give up. As long as you are progressing no matter how small that progress is you are fine.

The difference between brain dump and to-do list

Many of us confuse brain dumping with creating to-do lists. The simple difference between the two things can be summed up as your to-do lists can never be brain dumping but only a part of brain-dumping.

Brain-dumping is basically writing down all thoughts, ideas and tasks that has been nagging you and everything you want to do. With the brain-dumping method you create your to-do list.

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Why Brain Dump works?

Frees up your brain space

Have you noticed when you have some urgent work to do and you don’t complete it your brain time and again reminds you of that task.

You may be the laziest of creatures but your brain isn’t so it will remind you and at times it results in a lot of build-up stress that remains till you complete that important task.

To counter all such problems a brain-dump would be helpful to give you a sense of clarity and free up some of that brain space.

Helps in preventing memory slips

There are some tasks that we absolutely need to do on a daily basis or almost every day. Like attending office, travelling for work, eating our food, cooking, bathing and so on. So as per your situation there are some basic daily tasks you absolutely have to do.

Along with these daily obligatory tasks you also have some other additional tasks that you need to complete.

As mentioned earlier your brain is constantly keeping an account of what tasks you have done, what you need to do or any problem you are experiencing. In reality our brain is not programmed to handle so much information and whenever there is an information overload 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 brain and mind.

This is something that I have experienced every time I come up with a problem both in my profession and personal space. When a situation or an obstacle seems too big to resolve 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 helps me in untangling all those knots in my brain and lets me breathe easy. It’s a different story altogether that I feel so embarrassed when I read my rants later but nevertheless it helps.

If any of this makes sense to you then I would really urge you to try this method.  Whenever you feel too stressed or bogged down by life in general try writing down your problems, deep down you will discover an answer.

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 and check whether you have missed doing a particular work.

When you are sometimes demotivated with some tasks you can always refer to your brain dump notes and remember why you started in the first place.

The best part about the brain-dump 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 get stuff done or just to let some worry off your shoulders.

So here we are at the end of this post if you liked this post please share thoughts! Have you used the brain-dump method? Do tell! Always happy to know your thoughts.