How to dump your brain

I quite often feel completely overwhelmed with the things I need to do, even when my to-do list is fairly reasonable. Often it’s at the end of an unproductive day when I’ve faffed around achieving nothing but feeling stressed out. It’s at these times I do a brain dump, or mind map, to help me get everything out of my frazzled head and onto paper. It helps a lot.

There are probably tonnes of different ways to attack a brain dump. The simplest is just to write a long list of everything that you think of that needs to be done. I tend to do a mind map, just because it looks prettier, and it allows your mind to think a little more logically.

I start out by listing either big projects that need doing, or categories e.g. housework, business stuff, blogging. Each of these is circled.  Then I sit and quickly scribble everything that comes to my mind on the paper – attaching it to a category or starting a new category if I need to. Sometimes new ideas branch off old ones. The main thing is to keep scribbling, and get all the stuff in my brain out on the paper. I save expanding things into more detail for later, together with ordering everything into lists.

This is tonight’s effort. I’m obviously not feeling overwhelmed tonight – it was a stretch coming up with things, and this is fairly neat, not my usual scrawl to keep up with my brain.

mind map brain dumpI’ll often do this right before bedtime, and then keep it beside the bed, just in case things start swirling around my head as I’m going to sleep. It’s easy, then, to quickly add them to the mind map and stop worrying that I’ll forget them.

In the morning, I can start to prioritise the tasks; making to-do lists and working out what my three MITs will be for the day.

Do you dump? How do you get all the *things* out of your head? Or do you work better if they just stay in there?


24 thoughts on “How to dump your brain

  1. What a great idea! Honestly! I can absolutely see how this would just clear out your brain and lessen the stress of forgetting and feeling overwhelmed! Will definitely have to remember this for future reference x

    • Lists are just the best, aren’t they? I think I like the non-structuredness of a mind map sometimes, just to really clear my mind.

    • My memory is definitely no good, there is no question about that! My hubby knows now that if I don’t write it down, it will be forgotten!

  2. I’m getting to the end of the day and feeling unproductive more often than not. My husband asked if I keep a to-do list, and I do, but this will help so much more I think! Thanks. Going to give it a go. Also, my husband has an impressive floordrobe. Floordrobe. Ha! Love it.

    • Hi Jess! It’s easy to feel unproductive when your day consists of repetitive, but essential tasks. And a brain dump is great, unless you then feel you have to get it all done at once…

  3. Yes, I’m a big writer of lists – but I love how yours is so visual. And, thanks for the reminder about the MITs – have to get back into that, instead of trying to make everything an MIT!

  4. I ‘dump’ (lol) but most of mine is in the forms of lists. Sometimes mine is just mental but when I have a lot going on I will often sit in bed at the end of the day and write a little list on my iphone before bed- but I love the way you set yours out :)

    • I think we underestimate the power of getting stuff out of our head and onto paper (or iphone!) It’s a habit that I’ve come to love a lot.

  5. Oh I LOVE this idea! I am a huge list-lover.. but the mind-map idea makes my inner Virgo happy.. all organised! Thanks! Trying this tonight! Loz x

  6. Ooh I like this idea! I do lists but this is much better. My mind is full at the moment so this would be a great idea for this arvo!

  7. I love a good brain dump, but often just do a massive long list, then get overwhelmed with it. I have the mind node app, which is just like this but electronic. I originally got it on my iMac, but didn’t like it as it was a pain to go to the computer to see my to do list. Just checked and I seem to have it on my iPad too (although I can’t remember putting it on there), so will give it a try now and see if it works for me.

    • If your head works better digitally, an app would be great! As much as I love my gadgets, this is one thing I need to do with pen and paper.

  8. I start my to do list first thing in the morning, then it just gets longer during the day, as I add things fast than I can tick them off. It is totally depressing. Something about the mindmap is very appealing in the way it groups things. Makes everything look more organised. And the list doesn’t get longer, just… wider :) Thanks for the tip. I’ve always wondered what a mind map was.

  9. When I had a quite a bad time when I was out of work for almost a year, I did one of these! I took one of those massive bits of butchers paper, and wrote EVERYTHING down. I felt so good afterwards! I could finally map out everything my brain was trying to store! I used to hate mind maps when I was in school, but I love them. It’s just wonderful to see everything on paper sometimes!

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