In yesterday’s post we talked about strategies for decluttering your mind. One of the things I mentioned was to write things out in your journal. Today I want to share another great tool with you…
The brain dump.
Our brains are like hard drives in that they can only hold so much information at one time. And when the brain gets full, it does the same things a hard drive does… it slows down.
Since the daily subconscious activity of your brain is what keeps you breathing, the one thing you don’t want is for it to slow down or start getting confused due to all the excess information floating around in there.
A brain dump can help with that.
What is a Brain Dump?
If you’re like most people with an active mind, your thoughts can get overwhelming at times. It can be really hard to get past those thoughts to the quiet of a still mind. It’s one reason so many people find it hard to slow their mind down to meditate.
Doing a brain dump can help you make sense of all those thoughts in your head.
A brain dump is exactly what it sounds like: you take the thoughts that are in your head and dump them onto another storage device, like a journal or a piece of paper. The brain can only process a fraction of what’s inside your brain at any one time, so removing them from active memory to a place where you can see and recall them at any time helps the body feel relaxed and increases your productivity. No longer are you worried about what you’re going to make for dinner, now the only thing that matters is the task at hand.
Why Do a Brain Dump?
The benefits of a brain dump can be huge. For starters, just getting everything out of your mind and down on paper can create clarity and peace of mind. It can also help you feel more in control, because it gets all those thoughts that have been rolling around in your head out into the open where you can see them.
Having everything written down in one place gives you a chance to organize it, prioritize what’s important and get rid of the clutter. You may find that you feel more relaxed, are more productive, and even sleep better just because you have dealt with what was taking up space and energy in your mind.
How To Do a Brain Dump
If you’ve never done a brain dump before, it’s remarkably easy. There are just a few basic steps to do.
- Grab a journal or notebook, and your favourite pen.
- Set a timer for 30 minutes or an hour.
- Start the timer and begin to write whatever comes into your mind.
Don’t censor yourself, just get everything down on paper as quickly as you can. Depending on how cluttered your mind is, you may end up with anywhere from one page to 10, but no matter what, get those thoughts out of you!
Once you have your list of thoughts, spend some time going through it and prioritizing what needs to be done, what can wait, what you can get someone else to do for you, and finally, what you can dump.
That’s really all there is to it.
Doing a brain dump is a lot like freewriting. Many authors use this as a tool whenever they have a mental block. And some, like Julia Cameron advocate doing a brain dump every morning so that you start the day with a clear mind. (See The Artist’s Way for her description on how to do morning pages.)
But you don’t have to be a writer to take advantage of the clarity and peace of mind that a brain dump can give you. There may be feelings and thoughts that are blocking you from achieving your goals, that you don’t even realize are there until they show up on your page.
Doing regular brain dumps can not only help you organize your thoughts and your work, but can also help you tackle larger issues in your life that may be stopping you from achieving the success you deserve.
Have you ever done a brain dump? How’d it work out for you?