How To Declutter Your Mind: Brain Dump

How to declutter your mind and create a brain dump list

Oh the joys of our everyday pace of life. Things get hectic and can easily go out of control if we snooze for a second. This happened to me a number of times. Instead of being my usual organised self, I somehow found myself becoming a 250-blinking-email-notifications-2-forgotten-birthdays-3-missed-deadlines-1000+-papers-chaotically-misplaced type of person. Enter… brain dump lists! *insert TA-DAH sound effect here* I don’t even know where to begin telling you how much starting a bullet journal and having a brain dump list has helped me! So I thought I could lend you a hand with a few tips if your mind feels overwhelmed, messy and all over the place. Make a cuppa, grab a piece of paper, a pen and read on. Let’s declutter your mind together.

How to declutter your mind and create a brain dump list

My mind and my computer have a lot in common. 

Before you think “Is this a lecture on how your brain works?!”, nope, it’s not. What I mean is, I often tend to think about 57 things at the same time. Which is pretty much the number of tabs I have open on my computer every time I am productive, errr, TRY to be productive. When all these thoughts keep piling up, I go into a mild panic mode and let a packet of cookies solve all my problems. I also start forgetting things. More panic! Because I never forget important stuff (so I thought). 

And then I discovered this beautiful world of BuJo (bullet journaling) and everything related to it, I found out about…*insert fairy dust sound effect*… brain dump lists! Light bulb moment right there.  

Why do I think you might need a brain dump list?

If you ever think that stuff has got out of control…you’ve forgotten to reply to a text or an important email for a few days (or even weeks)…things never seem to get done…you blink – and it’s midnight and you’re cross with yourself but you’re also exhausted…or if you simply start feeling overwhelmed, cluttered and unhappy with yourself, I am not saying creating a brain dump list will magically and instantly solve all those issues. But it WILL help to improve your current situation. Bit by bit.

Brain dump definition

No distractions

Do you know the feeling when you need to get stuff done but you end up scrolling through your Twitter feed? Then you find yourself 6 months deep into someone’s Insta grid. To make things even more bizarre, 2 hours later you realize you’re binge watching YouTube (ironically, you could also be watching videos on how to stop procrastinating). Whether it’s unintentional or you made a rational decision to be glued to that playlist, it’s disruptive. Before you get started on your “brain dump” list, remove all distractions. Turn off the TV. Close the laptop. Put your phone on silent. For the next 10 to 30 minutes (the time frame depends on how much stuff is actually on your mind) you need to be alone with your thoughts. Multitasking won’t work. It never does. Put everything else on hold and get started.

Necessary tools

Ok, so what do you REALLY need for a “brain dump”? It depends. But, honestly, there’s nothing better than a pen and a sheet of paper (or a notebook). You can make the process as simplified or as complex as you’d like. I know some people prefer their lists in a digital format. If you’re one of them, open a new Word document and you’re ready to roll. As much as I love my Excel spreadsheets and Word lists, I am a pen and paper kind of gal through and through. I personally use the back of my to-do list notebook or a separate weekly “brain dump” sheet of paper which I then add to my planner. 

How to declutter your mind and create a brain dump list

It’s OK to be messy

When I work on my brain dump I don’t worry about how neat my writing is or how organised the list is. The whole point of the brain dump is to literally “dump” every small and big thing you need to do or think about on paper. Treat it as an ULTIMATE to-do list, including the most urgent tasks and long-term plans. If there’s a piece of information on your mind and you feel like everything might crashing down if you forget it – jot it down. It’s OK to cross things off, make spelling mistakes or moves your notes about. All you have to do is dig deep into your mind and let those thoughts come flooding in. At this stage you don’t need to worry about categories or connection between each line. The messier, the better. The photo above is a made-up list. Because, aesthetic. 

Organise the “mess” 

Now that you’re finished with your brain dump list, it’s time to think about 2 things: urgency and categories. When it comes to urgency it’s pretty straight-forward – decide what’s top-priority and what’s not. Look at each task and establish when it needs to be completed: today/this week/next month/in a year, etc. If you feel like some tasks you’ve written down sound too vague or complicated, break them down into smaller and much more manageable ones. Next step is to categorise. Depending on what you have going on in your life (and, as a result, on your mind), think of groups for your to-do’s. Those can include: Home, Family, Kids, Work, Blog, YouTube, Health, Fitness, Faith and Miscellaneous (if you’re not sure what category the task belongs to). 

How to declutter your mind and create a brain dump list

Does it make the cut?

Here’s the thing about a brain dump list. It is not just about TASKS. The whole purpose is to free your mind off all mental post-in notes. So you’re more than welcome to write down a few lines about something that’s been buzzing in your brain. Basically, LET. IT. GO. What do you do after you’re finished and you have some random thoughts spilled all over the page? Consider starting a journal or adding “A few lines a day” section to your planner. It could be quite therapeutic. If you have some big things happening or important milestones you don’t want to forget about, jot them down into your gratitude notebook. I recommend starting one ASAP if you haven’t already – it’s life-changing. Now, when it comes to your to-do’s, be ruthless. Is it significant? Is it worth your time/effort? Also, most importantly, think PRIORITIES. Extra tip: if you are a blogger, you can write a weekly or monthly brain dump list for your post ideas. After that – sift, get rid of stuff that doesn’t excite you or your readers, then brainstorm and develop winner ideas further.

How to create a brain dump list

Hope you enjoyed this post and found it inspiring and helpful.

I think we all need to declutter our minds from time to time.

Remember that pen and paper I mentioned in the intro?

Now would be the time to put it to good use, and get your life a little more organised.

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Leave a comment and let me know if you have ever created a brain dump list.

If yes, was it helpful?

Off the top of your head, what 3 things would you put into your brain dump list RIGHT now? 
Share them below.
Yay to no mind clutter!

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