Tips for a Better Brain Dump

posted in: podcast, productivity | 9

A complete and thorough brain dump is an integral part of both the Simplified Organization Self-Paced Course, and Work the Plan. Lately I’ve had a lot of people ask questions about it, so I thought I’d answer those questions together in a short video.

A complete and thorough brain dump is an integral part of the Simplified Organization Self-Paced Course. Here's how to do a brain dump better.

Starting a brain dump list is the best strategy for combating the feelings of overwhelm and chaotic thoughts. It’s a quick get it out of your head and onto paper trick, not a structured list. When you get all those crazy thoughts out of head and onto paper, you will often see that the craziness was all in your head. With it solid on paper, you can then analyze it without being overwhelmed.


Listen to this post!

SO021: Tips for a Better Brain Dump


Here are some tips and thoughts about doing a better brain dump:

Brain Dump Summary

  • A brain dump is a strategy to return to again and again, whenever you feel confused, scattered, or overwhelmed. It gets your swirling thoughts down onto paper so you can think about them and examine them and make decisions about them rather than just hold them.
  • You can keep it in a notebook, on index cards, with voice memos, or on Evernote – just try to keep it in one place and make sure that place is convenient.
  • Don’t try to do it all at once. Do it in little snippets of time, here and there, as things occur to you. Spend a week or more at simply getting things out of your head and onto paper, especially if this is the first time you’ve done it or it’s been years since you’ve last tried.
  • Don’t worry about processing your brain dump list until you’ve spent adequate time emptying your head. What to do with your brain dump list comes in module 4 of the Simplified Organization Course – don’t tackle that until you’ve gone through the areas outlined in the previous modules. You want your first brain dump list to be as thorough and comprehensive as possible before setting up your processing containers and systems.

Taking that time to really do a thorough job here will also give your mind time to percolate and incubate ideas and connections about what on your list will be able to be deleted or adjusted or modified. Don’t be in a rush.

Having an organizational system doesn’t prevent overwhelm from ever happening again. Instead, those systems help you know what to do when you feel overwhelmed and scattered. They help you get back on track faster.

Start your brain dump now with my free guide with prompts and instructions
to get you decluttering your mind today!
A complete and thorough brain dump is an integral part of the Simplified Organization Self-Paced Course. Here's how to do a brain dump better.

9 Responses

  1. […] Making a list is my go-to strategy whenever I start to feel a little overwhelmed (or a lot), scattered, or just plain crazy. David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done gave me a name and an excuse for this process: Brain Dump. […]

  2. […] our live Q&A chat in October we chatted a bit about brain dump lists, and so I recorded a quick video covering the essential points I had to make about that. The next […]

  3. […] is a list I’ve made a few times in a brain-dump sort of a way, but it’s not one I actually refer to or use, except for a short period of time […]

  4. […] brain dump process can be a huge thing that happens over the course of multiple weeks the first time. But once your […]

  5. […] Tips for a Better Brain Dump Mystie’s brain dump instructions are helping me so much. And I mean SO much. […]

  6. […] meeting was about how to complete a “Brain Dump” and during the discussion I asked what to do with our paper(s) after we were done sorting […]

  7. […] And so learn and learn and learn I did and still do! I am much better versed now than before, and I use what I learned in my job at Pace University today. However, that learning definitely made me suffer from analysis paralysis. What was I going to do with all this knowledge? I went 100 directions at once, then 180-ed, then did a K turn, and ended up hitting a wall. I finally took some advice from Kristi Brown of Significantly Successful who suggested I do a brain dump. I jotted down skills I have, accomplishments I am proud of, my education, classes and events I’ve attended, personal oddities (like always reading 52 books a year), and more. (Find out how to do a brain dump here and get some useful tips here.) […]

  8. […] Braindumps are one of my favorite ways to destress at the end of the day. Don’t worry about making a neat, cohesive list. Just take the swirling thoughts rushing around your mind, and let them rest on paper. […]

  9. […] brain dump is a strategy to return to again and again, whenever you feel confused, scattered, or overwhelmed. […]

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