SO022: An Effective Brain Dump

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Season 4: Brain Dump to the Rescue

Whenever you feel overwhelmed or scattered, sit down and brain dump.

First, pick a place to keep your notes; either a notebook or index cards or Evernote, whatever thing would be convenient for you and just easy to jot things down. It doesn’t have to be structured – it shouldn’t be structured. It’s just a quick ‘get it out of your head and onto paper’ so that your head can be used for thinking about things rather than holding things. You want to use the paper for holding (containing) your ideas and things to do (and whatever else pops into your head) and then you can look at the things outside of your head and use your head, your mind, for thinking about them and then you’ll make a better processing list later on. But doing something about them later comes later. First do the thorough, thorough Brain Dump.

This isn’t going to be a sit down and do it all in one sitting, or even once. I don’t know how many brain dump lists I have done, even this year.

It’s something that I just do when I start feeling scattered and distracted. I sit down, make a list, get it out of my head, and then I can look and say, “These are the things that are always on my brain dump list, I’m OK.” Life’s not going crazy, just my head. It’s all in my head. When you get it out of your head, you see it on paper, and at least eventually, hopefully, sometimes, it’s all in your head and not as crazy as you thought it was. It makes it easier to handle.

But maybe it’s not all in your head. What you need to do is get it out of your head so you can see it. Just get it all out of your head.

So, let it be a week, two weeks, even a month and just add to that list as you have time. At home with kids, with other responsibilities, you can’t dedicate an hour or three hours to getting everything out of your head in one-sitting. So just coming to it for just little chinks of time here and there throughout the day or even once a day for a week or more will help you get a better list, get everything out of your head as different things trigger different ideas or responsibilities you just add it to the list. So give it some time.

Let the thoughts percolate in your head and just give yourself time to get everything out of your head and onto paper.



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