How to Clear Your Mind with a Brain Dump

You ever noticed how slow your computer gets when its storage is almost full?

Applications that used to open in a second now take a few. The software lags and stutters more. It turns doing anything into a challenge.

That’s about the same way our mind works.

When there’s all this stuff in our heads — — unfinished tasks, memories that make us anxious, things we shouldn’t forget to Add to Cart — — it becomes much harder to concentrate on what we’re doing. I know I can barely work when there’s something bugging me.

It’s why brain dumps are so helpful.

With a brain dump, you’re cleaning out all that mental clutter clutter. The fact is that we don’t have to hold all taht stuff in your head. You can relieve some tension by offloading it onto your notes.

It helps you see things more clearly, helping you become more creative and productive. Plus, it might even help you sleep better.

Here’s how.

How to do a Brain Dumps

The core of doing a brain dump is to get everything that’s on your mind onto the page. Productivity consultant David Allen calls this practice “Mind Sweeps” and it essentially answers the question: What’s gotten your attention lately?

It’s a lot like writing one god awful draft at a time except with less direction. Get a pen and paper or open a note file on your laptop then write. Write whatever’s on your mind.

Be unhinged. Don’t stop. Spit it out. Smash the keys and seek forgiveness later. There’s no deadline nor word count. But there is a speed limit. It isn’t measured by kilometers per hour but by a simpler adjective: fast. Write fast.

As straightforward as that may be, it can still be a little hard getting into the actual writing. You’re bound to miss something. To really squeeze out everything, you can follow a trigger list.

Brain Dump Trigger List

It’s essentially a list of prompts or jumping off points that will remind you of things you need to keep in mind. The list contains personal concerns like:

1. Unfinished projects

2. Calls to make

3. Things to buy for the house

4. Clothes and groceries you need to buy

5. Errands to accomplish

You can also check up on yourself emotionally with questions like:

1. What’s making me anxious?

2. What am I excited about?

3. What’s holding me back?

4. What’s a big goal I’m putting off?

5. How do I feel? (Psychologists recommend identifying your emotions to help you process them better)

You can set a timer for yourself so you don’t keep going too long.

Once the clock runs out, you’ll find that you’ll feel much lighter than before. From my personal experiences, I can tell you that the problems that felt huge in my head seemed way smaller once I had written it out.

Morning and Evening Brain Dumps

The feeling of lightness is really great especially before I start work and before I go to sleep.

In the Morning

It’s the reason why another name for a brain dump in the morning is “Morning pages.”

Morning pages a practice popularized by Julia Cameron. Her style involves handwriting three full pages of your thoughts right after you wake up. “Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand,” she writes.

It can be like a morning shower for your mind, freshening it up for the day ahead.

In the Evening

Another great time to do a brain dump is at night before you sleep.

I can tell you from personal experience that going to sleep with a lot on your mind isn’t easy. I’ve found that I get a lot of creative thoughts and ideas right before I drift into unconsciousness. As fun as they are, It’s annoying because it disrupts my sleep.

That’s why I always keep a notebook beside me. Whenever I get an idea, I scribble it down quickly. It clears my head and relieves me of the anxiety of hoping I’ll remember the idea in the morning. Now I can’t sleep without a notebook beside me.

An alternative is to do a pre-bed brain dump. After your brush your teeth and change into your pajamas, you can take a few minutes to write whatever’s on your mind on a sheet of paper. This could help you wind down and sleep much more peacefully.

Keeping Your Mind Running Smoothly

I’d gamble that the nature of your work includes staring at your computer screen for 8 hours a day. That means most of the work happens in your head. You’re constantly brainstorming ideas, keeping up with tasks, and planning for tomorrow. It’s a lot.

All these thoughts and tasks clog up your head like files on a computer. A brain dump declutters your mind. It makes space for more ideas and thoughts flow. Making this a regular practice can help you keep your mind running smoothly.

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Content writer. Graphic designer. Meal-finisher. Seinfeld enjoyer.

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Francis Alcantara

Content writer. Graphic designer. Meal-finisher. Seinfeld enjoyer.