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Have you ever had these things happen?
You wake up ready to tackle your “to do” list however your attention flips from idea to reminder to replaying yesterday’s less than stellar day. Nothing on the list gets checked off.
You feel paralyzed by worry about some as yet unrealized situation.
Or you go through your nighttime routine, flip off the light and crawl into bed at a decent hour. Immediately your brain goes into overdrive, flooding your awareness with brilliant ideas, stubborn fears or regrets you can’t do anything about. Hours later you still haven’t slept.
Our brains continually receive and process information. It does an amazing job of sorting through all those bits and pieces of information and bringing into our awareness what is most important. However, like a room full of too much stuff, the brain can become cluttered with too many thoughts, ideas, fears, anxieties, regrets, dreams and tasks. That clutter of thoughts creates overwhelm, making it difficult to focus and prioritize tasks.
The benefits of brain dumping are many and yet it is so simple to do.
What is Brain Dumping?
A brain dump is a transfer of thoughts to a journal, digital notes app, notebook, white board or piece of paper. It’s a way of capturing all those ideas, worries, questions, or sparks of creativity that are swirling in the mind in one place.
I think of it as a movement of energy from my brain, down my arm and out through my hand, onto paper. If I don’t move that energy it continues to circle in my mind, distracting me or keeping me awake. Brain dumping serves as a reset button.
Benefits of Brain Dumping
The benefits of this exercise are many. They include:
- clears the mind of clutter
- stops worry about unimportant things
- breaks the loop of replaying an incident over and over
- brings clarity to dreams and visions
- uncovers deeper truths
- clarifies beliefs
- helps you let go of regrets
- organizes tasks so you can see what is most urgent
- helps you decide what is most important to you
- moves energy so that it is not continually circling in the mind
- provides “ahas” and insights
- shifts negativity
- highlights gratitudes
- creates a safe place to write out feelings and process them
- encourages creativity and problem solving
- keeps track of things you don’t want to forget
- improves memory and recall
- makes it more likely for follow through and taking action on goals
- strengthens focus and productivity levels
- reduces stress, anxiety and depression
- expands perspective and “big picture” thinking
When to Do a Brain Dump
To receive the most benefits from brain dumping, practice it every day…or at least once a week. You can start the day with a brain dump, to help organize a “to do” list, capture creative ideas or tackle a problem that needs solving.
Or, end the day with a brain dump to make it easier to fall asleep without all those thoughts, ideas and nagging worries tumbling about. I’ve turned on the light after getting into bed to do a brain dump. Otherwise, I can kiss that good night’s sleep goodbye.
Any time of day is appropriate for a brain dump. If your mind feels cluttered with thoughts or repetitive loops or anxieties, pause to get them out of your head.
How to Brain Dump
Grab a pen and a notebook, open your phone’s notes app or create a document on your computer and find a quiet place to be alone for a few minutes.
Free write all the things distracting you:
- troubling thoughts
- creative ideas
- to do lists
- important and not so important tasks
- items to purchase
- big dreams and goals
- travel list of what to pack
- negative thoughts about yourself or anyone else
- that bad dream from last night
- what makes your heart come alive
- what makes your heart sad
- celebrations to plan
- past regrets
- anything you don’t want to forget
Truly, the things you can write about are endless. The key is to allow whatever is cluttering your brain to appear on paper. If it’s bothering you, write it down. When a thought keeps circling back around, jot it on the paper.
Write until it feels like you’ve captured what’s disturbing your peace, making you anxious, filling you with ideas or keeping you from focusing. You can do more brain dumps as necessary.
When you finish, look over what you wrote.
Organize tasks into lists and make action plans…for now or later. You can always return to a written out brain dump.
Put stars next to big ideas you want to develop.
Go for a walk and leave your thoughts behind on the paper. Enjoy breathing fresh air and relaxing the mind. Or enjoy a long soak in the tub or go to sleep. Return to the brain dump if you want…or never look at it again.
If something you wrote down warrants further thought, write it at the top of a blank page for future consideration. This is where insights can appear, as you dig a little deeper.
As you organize your brain dump, check off items or scratch through them.
It’s okay if the same things keep showing up in brain dumps. That just means there’s deeper work to do. Watch for patterns. Is there someone to forgive? An unpleasant task you need to conquer and move on from? Something you need to release? A daily planner, meal planner or calendar to purchase? Eventually your brain will let go of these reoccurring thoughts as you deal with them.
How I Use Brain Dumping
I have a collection of notebooks that I use for everything from blog and social media post ideas to travel destinations to big dreams and goals. I also capture fears, worries and regrets on those notebook pages and then let them go. In fact, I often burn those pages as a symbolic way of releasing everything written on the paper. I joke that I carry my brain around in notebooks and that’s no lie!
When driving I dictate ideas and thoughts into my iPhone notes app. Or I’ll verbally make lists or capture thoughts I don’t want to forget.
I’ve used sticky notes and a large white board to capture ideas for projects or brainstorm ideas.
And I frequently do a quick brain dump if thoughts, plans or creative ideas are keeping me awake. It’s a wonderful way to calm my mind. Plus I know I have my notes for the next morning, when I wake up. I don’t have to keep thinking about them.
Brain dumping is very helpful for me.
Have you tried brain dumping? Tell me about your techniques!
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7 Replies to “Benefits of Brain Dumping”
I need to try brain dumping! My brain feels like it runs on a motor and constantly goes.
Shutting it all off is essential!
I needed to read this last night. My brain was in overdrive and I could not sleep. A brain dump would have been so beneficial. I am definitely going to use this wonderful tool.
I love this idea of brain dumping! It really helps to get organized in your brain!
Brain dumping is so rewarding. It helps us to take a moment of our day and write down everything that comes to mind. Sometimes we even remember things that we completely forgot.
This is how I make my lists of things to do! Super helpful…I should try it for other things
I often have difficulty sleeping. I think this might be a great idea.