Hey Planning Mashers!
Do you ever feel like there are so many things to do that you just can’t anymore? I know the feeling of overwhelm very well, as well as the negative consequences it can bring to our lives. Today, I’ll share with you, the one technique that helped me put all this behind: The Brain Dump!
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With all the social roles and responsibilities we have these days, it’s so easy to get overwhelmed. You keep pushing your brain to remember all the tasks, to work on all the obligations and it can turn into a huge messy pile of chores. This leads to feeling anxious, overwhelmed and generally lots of stress.
This is a pretty dangerous state of mind, that can only lead to one thing – mental breakdown, and this is, obviously, not good.
There is, however, a very simple way you can deal with the overload and keep your sanity – by using a brain dump!
(Psss, there is also a free printable brain dump page in our Resources Vault. If you’re not a part of Planning Mashers – be sure to sign up at the end of the post!)
What Is A Brain Dump
A brain dump is simply a way to move the content of your brain to the paper. All the to-dos, stressors, worries, plans – everything that’s boiling in your brain causing your stress.
It’s a way to declutter your thought and get the focus back to what’s really important.
Putting everything on paper is always a powerful practice, and in this case, it will also allow you to see everything that bothers you and organize your time and effort the best way to handle it.
Just as you write everything down, you’ll feel the pressure lessening, the overwhelm stepping down. You’ll finally be able to take a big breath and start tackling everything with intention and newly found motivation.
Why Does It Work
Putting things on paper is such a simple thing to do, it’s hard to believe it can actually help to deal with such a huge issue as overwhelm and stress.
But it definitely can, and here is how it works.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, your mind is a mess. You have tons of thoughts replacing each other at the speed of light and that nagging feeling that you forgot something keeps coming back over and over again.
Honestly, for me, this feeling is the worst. You’re already full of all your tasks and worries, and this little voice saying that you forgot something is that extra drop that overflows the cup. The worst!
If you put all of this on paper, a miracle happens. Suddenly, it’s not the worst anymore. It actually starts feeling… manageable! And the dreadful sensation those thoughts cause, will stop running all over your brain, cause now they are nailed to the paper and ready to be worked through one by one.
That nagging feeling of forgetting something will be gone! Good riddance! Now everything is here in your journal and if something else comes to us – just add it to the list.
The second reason why it works is because you open your mind wide, and you rediscover ideas, thoughts and plans you had forgotten, or even better, ones you never knew were there. Once you start writing everything that’s on your mind, you discover some things that were worrying you, but were completely hidden behind the piles of your daily chores and to-do lists.
How To Brain Dump
Ok, sounds awesome right? Wanna do one? Of course you do.
Creating a brain dump is really super easy. Take a piece of paper and a pen and start writing. It’s that simple.
Write EVERYTHING that’s on your mind, without exception. Friend’s upcoming birthday, groceries, a huge work project, that leaking pipe – everything goes.
Take your sweet time doing this. Don’t worry about making it pretty or organizing it. For now, the goal is for you to unload everything. We’ll work on the other things as a next step.
If you are a more visual person – try writing it as a mind map, or maybe adding some doodles. Do whatever feels natural to you. Do what helps you squeeze your brain to the fullest!
The important thing in this step is to write ALL of it, it doesn’t matter how small or insignificant it looks.
You can use whatever you like for this exercise! Maybe you just want to have a piece of printing paper to write on, or maybe like me, you prefer to add this as a spread in your Bullet Journal.
Brain Dump Template
Sometimes, it can be pretty confusing to start this exercise, especially if it’s your first time and you’re not a pen and paper kind of gal.
So, here are some prompts and questions for you that can help you get started. You don’t have to go through all of them or anything, they are just to help you get going and soon, ideas will come flowing like a river.
- What are you worried about?
- What do you keep forgetting?
- Did something go wrong?
- What are some things that you seem to never get done?
- What are some maintenance tasks you need to perform?
- Are there any events or special occasions coming up?
- What do you think you need to change in your routine?
- What annoys you?
You can also just divide everything by – what you must do, what you want to do and what perhaps will want to do eventually.
Just writing everything on paper is a very strong thing to do, but there is more to it. Once you unload everything, it’s time for the next step – working through all the things.
First of all, you have to go through all the things you wrote. Ask yourself some of these questions.
- Which are the most important and urgent things?
- What are the things that bother you the most?
- What are some things you can complete right now?
- Are there any tasks that are actually irrelevant and should be forgotten altogether?
Once you have had your first look at the tasks, it’s time to get working!
You can go through them the way you like: start from something you can do right away, from something that annoys you the most, from something that you think is the most important, or whatever you want.
As a Bullet Journal junkie, I always recommend you to create a plan and spreads for your tasks.
Go through your bigger badder most intimidating tasks and see if they need separate collections: trackers, lists or full-on goals spreads.
Fitness Bullet Journal spread will help you with your health-related tasks. Habit tracker will be perfect if you’re changing your routines.
For some general worries and uneasiness try some of these Bullet Journal spreads to bring you joy. It’s important that you don’t just work on your to-do list, but on a mental part of your brain dump.
Remember! Having a plan is halfway to getting it done!
Finding The Triggers
An important thing about using a brain dump is to use it on time. Not when you’re already so far up the stress that you can only explode, but before you get to this point.
For that, it’s pretty useful to understand your triggers and what situations generally lead you down this path.
A brain dump is a fantastic tool that can help you immensely, but sometimes, we’re way too deep in this mess to even realize what’s happening and that it’s time for this technique.
My tip for you here is to write down the triggers and the situations that usually lead to overwhelm. It will help you to be more mindful and realize that you need help at the right time.
Here are several sample situations to get your brain juices flowing:
- When organizing big events
- When it’s time for a family reunion
- When you’re working on a big work project
- When your schedule is super packed
- Before the holiday season
- When the house is a mess
- When you start having meaningless fights with people in your life
- Before traveling
- When it’s tax time or any other financial issues
How Often Should You Do A Brain Dump
It’s up to you, of course, but here are several tips.
First of all, every time you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Look back at your list of triggers and be sure you’re mindful of how you feel to start using your brain dump as soon as needed.
Create a brain dump every time you feel stuck with some particular issue, it will help you free up more brainpower to find a creative solution.
If you’re struggling with sleep and feeling too worried, consider doing a small brain dump before you go to sleep. Now you’ll have your mind calm and ready to rest because all your troubles are there on the paper.
I also like doing a brain dump once a month, just for general mental health and to be sure I’m not forgetting anything and know what I need to work on during the month.
Free Printable Brain Dump
If you want to have a prettied up brain dump, I got you covered – there is a free printable in the Resources!
It has two pages. First is just to unload it all, create that giant list as you go.
The second page is in case once you rote it all you’d want to organize it before starting to plan out how to tackle each task. So it’s divided into 4 parts for your convenience.
- After you download the printable, use a PDF Reader like Adobe Reader (100% free and safe download) to open the file.
- Find your print button and print your documents. Do not print double-sided and be sure that you have selected ‘Actual Size’.
- After printing, carefully cut out the printable and use a glue stick or adhesive tape to add it to your pages.
Your brain is a powerful machine and it’s so easy to overload it. Take good care of it and make sure you give it a rest with regular brain dumps.
Have you ever tried this technique? Share with us your experiences in the comments!
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And remember: Keep Bullet Journaling and Don’t Be a Blob!