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Why I FINALLY Tried A Brain Dump To Be More Productive – And YOU Should Too

Why should I be using brain dump worksheets, and how can they help me be more productive?

Oh, those stupid brain dump worksheets. Every time I scroll through Pinterest, there are half a dozen different brain dump pins. All sorts of brain dump pins…everywhere. *sigh*

And I remember clearly thinking each time they crossed my feed: ‘What a waste of time! Who has time to just sit around and scribble their random thoughts down on a paper?! That’s gotta be the anti-thesis of being productive.’

Yikes. I mean, I can dig into the faults of this thinking now that I’m a little older and wiser… but it was in my brain nonetheless.

And then one morning, I was walking the kids to school with my husband-slash-business-partner. We were talking about our busy day ahead, and I was SO STRESSED OUT. 

 

I had hardly slept all night. I had so many ideas and so many things on my to-do list, and my head was just spinning in circles of anxiety and overwhelm. 

My husband, who stresses about the complete opposite of everything I do, laughed at me in all my chaos.

And I just remember telling him:

‘It feels like I’m a freight train, whistling and charging ahead. I’m going faster and faster, and I can clearly see that there’s a brick wall up ahead on the track, but I just can’t stop.’

My head was swimming in 1,000 thoughts and I needed a minimum of 6 extra hours in my day.

I just knew- hands down- that I was headed for a burnout. It was inevitable. My brain was overloaded.

So we got home, and I sat down on the couch, pulled open my laptop, ready to start my busy work day. But my head was a freaking mess! I couldn’t focus.

Closing my laptop in defeat, I brewed another cup of coffee, and sat down with a paper and pen. I remember drawing squares on the paper. Then I just started scribbling down everything that was overwhelming me. I wrote down all the stuff for the kids’ school, all my work stuff, and all the stupid stuff around the house that I had been putting off for days, all of it!

Low and behold, I had just done a brain dump. (WHAT?! ME???)

But here’s the thing- I had just written down all of my thoughts, on paper, and I had no idea what to do next.

In hindsight, I probably could have just taken a few minutes to read one of the brain dump articles from Pinterest. But I’m stubborn and I sometimes think I have to do things ‘my way’ instead of what would probably be the faster and easier way.

So I just looked over my paper, putting all of the tasks and thoughts into the order of importance. I started with the stuff I absolutely HAD to get done that day, to the stuff that I really didn’t care whether it got done or not.

(Although I wouldn’t excuse myself from torturing myself over it if it didn’t, of course).

By the time I was done, I had a to-do list of sorts that was completely different than any to-do list I had created before. This one was done using my gut feelings, instead of sitting and trying to strategically plan my productivity.

This list tackled the things I NEEDED to do, instead of the things I thought I SHOULD do. 

But the best part? It was a list that covered ALL of the aspects of my day- from work to family to housework and so on. GENIUS!!

And so, a more humble version of myself moved forward that day with a solid reminder: Don’t knock it until you try it. 

What are the benefits of doing a brain dump?

There’s a LOT of advantages to brain dumping, especially depending on WHY or perhaps WHAT you’re dumping about.

But let’s explore a few of the universal benefits, shall we?

  1. A brain dump is a single place to get ALL your thoughts or needs down on paper, in front of you.
  2. Brain dumping can help you prioritize and organize your thoughts and tasks.
  3. Dumping your thoughts on paper helps clear your mind so you can focus better and feel more calm.
  4. Brain dumping regularly gives you a way to track your history of what kinds of things you procrastinate, what you prioritize, and what you might want to improve or streamline.
  5. Seeing your thoughts and tasks written down helps you remember them better later.

Obviously, doing a brain dump once a week (or even once a day) can be pretty beneficial!

Especially if you are trying to balance multiple things at once. Running a business or career, a home and family life, blogging, fundraising, etc. all stacks up.

Spending a few minutes to organize your thoughts actually helps you crush your goals better than ever before. You have literally cleared away the clutter in your head.

How does brain dumping work?

There are lots of different ways you can set up your brain dumping exercise. Some people prefer to start with a blank sheet of paper and just get scribbling! Others prefer a defined, organized worksheet to help them get clarity and focus. 

Don’t be afraid to tweak it and change it to whatever works BETTER for you! It’s YOUR brain, after all!

And since I love making printables and worksheets, I wanted to give y’all a handy little printable to get started.

If you decide to change things or try something else later, then hey, at least you’ve gotten started, right?

You can download this Brain Dump Worksheet an image OR pdf file here >>>>

So let me walk you through how I do a brain dump with my cool new worksheet. Spoiler alert: It’s super easy and kinda fun. 

Brain Dump Step One 

In each box, write a category or section of your life on the line.

This can be ANYTHING- your business, your career, your blog, your fundraiser, your housework, your kids, your social life, your hobbies, your social media, etc….

Whatever you’ve got going on in your life, put it in a box!

Brain Dump Step Two 

Now in each section, write all of the things you need to do. Or write things that are bothering you.

Whatever pops into your head, write it down!

You don’t have to go in order. You can jump around from box to box!

Just get everything out of your head and down on the paper.

Brain Dump Step Three 

Now that you’ve gotten everything onto the page, look over everything in each box.

What jumps out at you as needing to be dealt with FIRST? What is the absolute most important thing? Mark that with a #1. 

Look at each of the tasks and try and decide what you think you should do next, and next after that, until you have a pretty decent list of things in order of importance. 

You can prioritize these however you want. If some things have deadlines, make them first. If things are bugging you but you really don’t want to deal with them, make them last. Or shove them anywhere in between!

Don’t forget, it’s YOUR brain dump, so you make the rules!

Brain Dump Step Four

There is no step four! Haha! See how easy this was? 

All you have to do now is start tackling your list, one by one. Start with the highest priority and work from there. That’s it! 

So you can officially consider yourself a Brain Dumper now. Enjoy that extra space you’re creating in your brain to hold better, cooler, and funner stuff. 

If you get stuck on anything, or have any questions, comment below! Or if you think of a neat brain-dumping trick to share with us please write it below! 

Thanks for reading, y’all, now go and have a kick-ass day!

If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out our other helpful work+life articles, case studies and how-to’s to optimize your business and life!

2 Comments

  1. Heidi C. Fitzsimmons

    this is great! i already do brain-dumps of my to-do’s you know the big list not just today’s list, but I like how you have the grouped and boxed together -very helpful!

    Reply
    • Jessica Lathrop

      Thanks for the support, Heidi! I am so glad you find the printable to be helpful! 🙂 Brain dumps are becoming my new favorite productivity hack for 2020! (Can I call it a hack? Why not, right? LOL!)

      Reply

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