A brain dump is an easy and sustainable way to regain focus and clarity by clearing your mind of all the tidbits you’ve got floating in your brain. Those bits contribute to anxiety, stress, overwhelm, and disorganization. Use this brain dump guide to lighten your mental load to regain focus and organization.
Each time I feel myself getting overwhelmed, stressed, or anxious, it’s caused by one of two things… clutter in my house or clutter in my brain. I don’t know about you, but when my brain is overwhelmed with lots of random stuff to keep track of or something is happening where I need to hyper-focus for an extended period of time, everything around my house goes to shit. I especially fall in the weeds when I’m not keeping up with my planner or lists. Enter the brain dump.
Brain dumping is exactly what it sounds like. Writing down every single thing you have floating around your mind, onto a sheet of paper. There’s no ordering or organizing thoughts. You just free-flow everything your brain thinks of, onto a giant list. Think of it like when you are clearing clutter from your living room, into a basket that belongs in your kid’s bedrooms. Just dump it in the basket and sort it one room at a time. Same concept.
There is actual science behind using brain dumping as a tool to ease anxiety and stress. The reason it will help your anxiety is because part of anxiety is the problem of too much unresolved clutter in your mind. Brain Dumping helps organize this clutter into workable pieces, which are easier to resolve than a jumbled mess (Psych Central).
Brain Dump Do’s and Don’ts:
I made an adorable printable packet for you to use for this process, which you can grab right here. Once you’ve got your paper ready, start jotting down anything you need to do, calls to make, projects, chores, jobs, upcoming events, appointments, schedule updates, activities, random ideas, whatever. The list should include home, work, family, and personal stuff – e v e r y t h i n g. This will serve as a running list of all the things you need to take care of at some point in time.
Organize The List
Next, go through the list and sort it into two categories – work and home. Of course, if that doesn’t work for you, you choose what does. You can rewrite the lists into two new category lists, use highlighters to sort, put a W next to work items, bullet list – choose a way that works for you. I personally make two lists – work and home, then toss the master list. Take a new paper, or the same paper, and get sorting.
Tackle That List: Top 3-5
All you’re going to do now is jot down the Top 3-5 things from your newly sorted home brain dump list into a daily task list, to-do list, or my planner. I always work from my home list first. I choose any work tasks only during my work time. If you’re not living my life, this will be different for you, but I’d still suggest starting on the home list because that’s your anchor. Cross off those Top 3-5 tasks from your main home list when you write them on your daily task list.
Do not shoot for the stars while making your list. Only add 3-5 things you can accomplish in the day. This is for the main reason you want to help handle the overwhelm and anxiety, right? Nothing screams *aNXiEtY* than staring down a massive list of 12 heavy things. Chances are, you won’t finish all 12 of them because life happens, and you’ll just feel overwhelmed again. Shoot for 3-5 things. Small wins.
Next, scan your main home list for any reminders for today, and add them to the daily list. If you’re keeping a planner or calendar, this is the perfect time to add reminders and appointments you have written down. Remember to cross them off the home list as you add them to your planner or daily list. As you tackle your Top 3-5, remember to cross them off.
Daily Task Tips & Maintenance
If you find that you breeze through your Top 3-5 list, you can either bask in the glow of your accomplishment or add a few more tasks from the home list, crossing them off your daily tasks as you go. If you don’t breeze through and find yourself with leftover things, just add them to the top of the next day, and keep chipping away.
To maintain your brain dump as an ongoing two-list brain dump, simply add the things you think of each day to the proper list. Or, if you’d like to start a new list each week, you can do that too. I find as I keep up with it, my brain dumps get smaller and less overwhelming.
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Whether you download my printable Brain Dump & Task List or use your own, I’d love for you to share your method to your IG stories or reels and tag me @FarmhouseMade, so I can share your ideas too!