Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt overwhelmed. Stressed out. Beaten. Devoured by life and its responsibilities.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever dreamed of running away. Of starting over. Of leaving with nothing but the clothes on your back and hightailing it. The destination doesn’t matter all that much, does it? You just want out.
I’d like to introduce you to a very special person in my life. A confidant of mine. Someone who’s never let me down or betrayed my trust. Someone who answers whenever I call and has never judged me, no matter how pathetic or overwhelmed I may be.
The Brain Dump.
A good friend and mentor of mine prefers to call it the Brain Blossom. She thinks it lends a more positive, less gross connotation to this handy little strategy but personally? My brain doesn’t blossom. It doesn’t open up and flourish. Something beautiful and delicate isn’t unfurled.
My brain straight up dumps.
Picture, if you will, an overloaded, overflowing dump truck. It’s filled to complete capacity. Every single inch of space is crammed full. Every size rock imaginable. Giant boulders. Stones the size of your head. Teensy tiny gravel. All packed almost air tight in and above the bed of that truck. Piled SO high, one upon the other, that even gravity appears to bow before the load. Random dusty debris floating and settling here and there. The tires, struggling mightily under their burden, groan and shift. The metal truck bed bulges and creaks.
Not a place you wanna set up camp, right?
Yeah, that’s pretty much my brain when it’s on overload. And by overload I mean on the regular. Yep, that’s an accurate description of my brain on a daily basis.
Hence, the Brain Dump.
Every idea. Every responsibility. Every thought is completely wrung out by the end of my Brain Dump. All that crap that was clogging up my head? It’s all emptied out on paper.
I no longer have to think about it.
Worry about forgetting it.
Agonize over how I’ll fit it in with the rest of my life.
Once it’s written down, I can stop overthinking everything and start taking action.
One item at a time.
I cannot even begin to describe the sense of relief that engulfs my very soul at the end of a successful Brain Dump. I mean, yeah, I still have to DO everything I’ve written down, but at least I don’t have to think about it anymore. Worry if I’m forgetting something. Wonder what the crap I actually have to do in order to even have half a chance at calming the wracking waves of anxiety that sometimes threaten to drown me.
For real, y’all. Sometimes I think accomplishing all of the items on my to-do list isn’t nearly as hard as figuring out exactly what I need to do.
So if the Brain Dump is pretty much an actual dumping of all the crap that’s clogging up your brain, how exactly do you do it?
Any successful Brain Dump includes a three step process.
Step 1- Write down every single thing you could think of that could possibly be a “to do” item.
Seriously. You just write. it. down. Every single thing on your mind. Everything you need to take care of. Don’t overthink it. Just get whatever is in your head down on paper.
Step 2- Look at your list from Step 1 and start grouping like items together.
Grab some highlighters or colored pencils and start marking tasks that fall under the same category in the same color. My most common categories are as follows-
- Personal To Do
- Stuff To Do At Home
- One Organized Girl To Do-For Clients
- One Organized Girl To Do- For Running the Business
- ROCKTHIS.ORG To Do
Don’t get lazy on me and skip this step! It’s VITAL.
Step 3- Retype your list, so it’s divided by category.
Pretty much, you’re going to go straight up high school science lab and make a data table. Your categories will go along the top and then each task related to that category will be listed beneath it.
I know it’s going to take some time. And some motivation. And I know both of those are often in short supply. The effort is worth it though.
Your final product will be a comprehensive, categorized list of all of the tasks that have been weighing you down. That have been stealing your sleep. That have been stealing your joy. A concrete document laid out in black and white (Or completely color coded if that’s how you roll!) that will allow you to identify the tasks you need to complete through the fog of overwhelm. That will allow you the clarity to ask for specific help in order to complete those tasks.
Simply put? The Brain Dump will rock your world. It’s worth your time. It’s worth your energy. I mean what else are you gonna be doing? Laying in bed at night agonizing over everything on your to do list without actually being able to name any specificitem that needs to be completed?
Psalm 55:22 tells us to “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved. “
The Brain Dump is one way to get those burdens out of you and onto the Lord. You should totally give it a shot!
Wanna see a sample of each step? Here ya’ go!
A Few Hints To Max Out Your Brain Dump
1. Type, don’t write, your Brain Dump
You want to get those thoughts out of your head and onto paper as fast as possible. Since most people can type faster than they can write, that’s the route you wanna take.
Typing also takes out the whole “my handwriting looks like a serial killer’s” distraction out of the picture. I dunno about you but the more stressed I am the more picky I get about my handwriting. Maybe it’s a procrastination technique, but I’ve been known to start a handwritten brain dump over and over and over and over, each on a fresh sheet of paper with a different color and/or type of writing utensil until I “get it right.” Avoid this at all costs.
Since the brain dump is a three step process, it’s way more convenient to just hit print multiple times than it is to recopy. Maybe things start to get a little convoluted during the second step. You start to get your categories confused and need to start over. You’ll hate yourself way less if all you have to do is reprint the list! Typing also gives you the copy and paste option for step three!
2. Enlist the help of a friend. Someone you trust who can type like the wind. You talk; they type.
Having some help in step one helps you focus on just banging those to-do items out. Essentially, someone else is documenting your word vomit, so all you’ve gotta focus on is the thinking aspect of it.
Recruiting a partner in crime also keeps you from getting distracted by the actual task you’re writing down. The point of the brain dump is to just make the list. Execution is for later.
Working with a friend will also allow you to tag team the Brain Dump. You’re not in it by yourself. You have someone to help you categorize your tasks in step two. Someone who can retype your list in step three if you’re absolutely exhausted by that point. You also have a built in accountability partner.
3. Brain dump on the regular.
The Brain Dump works best when it’s done on a regular basis. Once a week to once a month is best. Depending on the time you have available and the number of items on your list, you could meet with a friend once a month for a big Dump and then do weekly check-ins and updates on your own.
Assign a regular time to Brain Dump. Maybe it’s Sunday night before your week starts and The Walking Dead comes on. Maybe it’s Monday morning after everyone else finally leaves for the day, and you have some peace and quiet. It doesn’t matter the specific day or time you choose as long as you’re consistent.
Trying to get organized? Here's a Sorting Categories printable for you.
No catch. Just a cute printable.
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