When was the last time you did a good Brain Dump? If it’s been a while or if it’s been NEVER, then I highly recommend it. Honestly, there’s nothing better than a good brain dump.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, a Brain Dump is basically described as
the act of dumping all the contents of your mind onto paper as one might dump the contents of a purse onto a table. Your are spilling out stressors, your nagging thoughts, your pesky annoyances.
I use this simple and handy tool in a few different ways.
First of all, many people use Brain Dumping as a practice to declutter their brains or as a way to be more productive. Some use it to create their “to do” lists and prioritize what is necessary and what is just a nagging thought circling around in your head. I will tell you the truth – doing a good Brain Dump (actually several) really saved me during a time when I was overwhelmed and anxious with far too many things on my plate, and loose balls in the air. If you have a big elephant you are trying to eat, dumping all the things down on a sheet of paper either at once, or weekly, or even daily, is a first step in figuring out how to take those bites out of that elephant. Picking a manageable number, for me during that time the number was three. Every day I would take my Brain Dump and make sure I could strike three things from the list. It made things manageable, made me feel productive and in control, especially when many other things everything else around me were out of my control.
This is still a great thing to do at the beginning of the week and let it carry you through the week. Even when you only have a baby elephant to eat on a regular basis. Some people have home lists, organised lists, work lists, lists for kids, trips, shopping, you get the idea.
Swirling Thought/Sleepless Nights
Next, I use this trick for those nights when my mind will not rest. You know those nights when you are up at 3 am because your brain decided to go on overdrive and remind you that your son’s baseball uniform needs washing, your daughter needs a ride to soccer practice, you forgot to pick up the snacks for something or another or was that supposed to be for next week, your mother-in-law’s birthday is coming up, you really need to update your resume, and also schedule a mammogram, drop off the dry cleaning on the way to the gym, remind your oldest child to schedule that college counseling session, and you just have to get to sleep because now you have to get up in THREE hours. . . .
Those are the nights that a good old fashioned pen and paper by the bed is the greatest invention ever. If you are wide awake scared to death of forgetting something or everything, then just write it down. It’ll be there in the morning to keep you in line. Likely, all of the things do not all actually have to be accomplished on the very next day, and likely you would not forget the important things, but just give your brain a rest and yourself, so just dump it and get some sleep.
New Year Goals
The third way I love to use a good old fashioned Brain Dump is when I’m setting goals, making plans, setting out wishes, New Year Goals or Bucket Lists. I like to just sit down and whatever comes to my mind, just write it down. I know that if I spend too much time thinking about a particular goal then I’ll talk myself out of it. I’ll get all practical and second guess the possibility or the feasibility of success. If I do that then I’m doomed and become afraid, embarrassed, and far too realistic. So, I like to just start writing without thinking. Just regurgitating what has been swirling around in my head, some pretty general and others specific, some are just fleeting and some are the things that are constantly niggling . . .
You don’t actually have to read my list. I’m not sure exactly why I’m even sharing it here. I should be scared and worried about posting – What in the world will you think of it? Of me? But here goes-
Say Yes more
Stop needless Worrying
Read Every Day
Learn New Things – Bridge for my brain, Tap dancing, New Painting methods
Take a solo trip
Get my hip fixed
Work with a trainer for accountability and more strength (back to the hip thing)
Complete my Health/Life Coach Certification
Create that Program
Stop being Afraid
Get out of my hole
Connect More –
Continue getting out of my comfort zone
Make a Business Plan
Drop the money fear
Pray more with confidence
Let it go
Lose the bitterness
Become smarter with money
Space for creativity
I could probably go on with this list, but then that would likely defeat the purpose because it can get too overwhelming and not actionable. Some of these things on the list are continuing “works in progress” and some are more concrete little goals. As I said, what comes up just comes out. I do this at the beginning of each year and find it helps guide me into the new year. I can look at the past year and say, “wow, I did that thing” or maybe, “darn, I didn’t get an opportunity, or didn’t take the opportunity” and then see whether it shows up on the new brain dump list or just gets “dumped”.
Finally, the last way I’ll use a brain dump is when I have an issue or problem to solve. I’ll get that pen and paper and just start scribbling any and everything about the problem. All the issues, from different angles, what outcomes might come from handling one way or another, best case scenario and worst case scenario and anything in between. Sometimes, getting it all on paper puts it in a much better perspective and what may have seemed to be an unsurmountable problem, well, might not be.
So, there you go. I really don’t think there’s much better than using this tool to start getting things done. It’s a simple, effective and FREE self-care practice. Try it. It brings peace, makes you feel motivated, focused and productive. I’ve tried lots of different things to handle stressful times in life and anxiousness. Well, this is it. It really is one of the best ways to clear your head and peace.
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