Updated: Dec 15, 2019
What is a brain dump?
Technically, you can define it however you wish, that is the fun of the brain dump - there are no rules. But essentially, it is taking everything in your head and putting it on paper.
The idea of a brain dump is nothing new. It has been done forever, and is talked about all over the internet. The step that isn't talked about much is what to actually do with everything you just wrote down. The brain dump process itself is cathartic and helpful all on its own, but I think more needs to be done to actually find solutions.
As promised, I have created a system to help you brain dump and problem solve. Let's get started. I have designed FREE worksheets to help you complete the whole process.
Grab a piece of a paper and your favourite pen.
Write down everything (and I mean everything) that is in your head:
Fears, what you are grateful for, what the kids need, groceries, appointments, renovations, bills past due, worries, things to do, etc.
You do not need to write in a straight line, or in full sentences, you don't need to spell things correctly. This is for you and you alone. No one is judging you.
Once you think you have written down everything, sit quietly for 5-10 minutes doing nothing. And I mean doing nothing. You need a few more minutes to ensure that nothing else jumps into your head. If something does, write it down. Continue this process until you can go a full five minutes without writing down anything new.
Now, using a new piece of paper, cut it up into pieces (enough so that you can write each idea / thought / task on its own piece). Write down each individual thought on its own piece of paper.
I want you to take each piece, read it over carefully, and put each piece into one of two groups: Control or No Control.
If you have control over the thought or task in some way, put it in the Control pile. If it is something you have no control over, and it just is, put it in the No Control pile.
Read over your groups carefully and make any necessary changes.
I want you to take some time with the thoughts / tasks on the No Control side. You need to determine if you want to hold onto them or let them go.
You may need help with that, and that is okay.
Seek the help you need, whether that is from a friend, spouse or professional.
Moving onto the next step, we are going to focus on the boxes placed under “control.”
Lay them out in front of you and begin to examine what they have in common. Begin to group them together (that is why you wrote them on their own piece - so you can move them around as you wish). Once you have grouped them all together - decide what the title / heading will be for each group.
For example: mental, financial, vocational, spiritual, family, physical and social
Next, you need to determine your starting point. In order to do that, you are going to look at each grouping and assign it a rating out of /10. This rating is based on the stress that this group is putting on your life. 0 being "no stress at all" and 10 being "totally overwhelmed, I am done."
Now you can decide on where to start, many people will jump to the group they have rated the highest, but you don't have to. Sometimes those groups may be out of reach for us right now, and if we try, we will only be more stressed when we don't reach our goals. So it is also important to be realistic and understand that you are aiming for progress, not perfection.
Think of it like debt - all of it matters. Sure, it would be best to pay off your largest debt with the most interest, but that mountain may seem too big to climb right now.
So what if you actually paid of your smallest credit card debt? You’ll achieve this goal faster, giving you a greater sense of joy and accomplishment, and now you can put that money towards your next debt payment. It will snowball from there.
Our lives can be managed in the same way. Get what you can off your plate right now. Then when you start to feel a little better, a little lighter, put that new energy and motivation towards working on something harder and more complicated.
Only you can decide whether you
are ready to take a step or
climb a mountain, but if
you aren't sure, then just take a step.
I have created FREE worksheets that follow everything I have described above. They will help you through the process and provide you with a template so you can get started right away.