A photo with a cup of coffee and pair of glasses next to a blank notebook. A perfect setup waiting for your brain dump list.

The Great Brain Dump

Jan 17, 2021

Want to know a trick I use every day for both work and my personal life? I’d have to say it is one of the most beneficial produtivity (and sanity) tools I use. It requires nothing more than a pen and piece of paper at it’s simplest. An in-depth spreadsheet at it’s most complex. What is it, you ask? A brain dump list.

Why is this such a great tool for me? I have a brain that, like many of you, never seems to stop rolling. I also act more and more like a goldfish when I get tired and burnt out. My ability to focus one one thing goes out the window. That’s where brain dump lists come in.

Don’t confuse this with a To Do list.

A brain dump list includes more than just actions that need to be taken. It includes any ideas you have, deadlines you need to remember, topics you want to learn more about. It is literally anything on your mind that is distracting you from what you want to focus on in the here-and-now.

Are you deep into a laundry-folding session and you get a great idea for your next blog post? Write it on your brain dump list.

Are you trying to focus on a client call when you suddenly remember your brother-in-law’s birthday is next week and you need to get a card? Jot it down quickly on your brain dump list.

Maybe you are laying in bed and your thoughts are a tornado, whirring with everything from the yogurt you need to buy at the store, to a bold new idea for your website, to the leaking faucet you need to get fixed, to the friend who is having a tough time that you need to check in on, to that client you need to follow up with, to the vet appointment you need to make for your dog, to the book you saw someone reading in the waiting room at the DMV that you thought looked good….and on and on and on. One of the fastest ways I can get my mind to calm is writing all of these things down on a brain dump list. Just single line, no fluff descriptions of absolutely everything. Once I write it down, I don’t need to spend brain power remembering it.

What do I do once I write it down? I forget about it for the time being. I then review these lists at intervals that work for me. It might be daily, weekly, or even monthly.

Need a few ideas beyond the pen-and-paper style that might help you be more productive and focused? Here are a few brain dump methods to think about:

  • An ongoing list in your Notes app, One Note, Airtable, Asana, Trello, or any other list or productivity app you use on your phone
  • Screenshots, bookmarks, or saves of anything you want to remember while scrolling on your phone or computer
  • Index cards that you keep next to your bed, in your planner, or in your car that can be easily combined when you review your lists
  • A section in a paper planner that is dedicated to these messy, random lists

If you don’t use a brain dump method, do you think it would be a useful tool in your life and business?  If you do, what system or method do you find works best for getting all of those random thoughts out?

Did you find this post helpful?  Check out this post: 15 Ways To Reclaim Your Creative Time as a Business Owner



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