We all have nagging thoughts, some that are important and never to come again, others that are incessant and anxiety inducing, and some that are epiphanies that will change the direction of our life. When they all come together at the same time, they cause feelings of being overwhelmed, confused, mentally paralyzed, or stuck.
If you’ve ever been overwhelmed by a hurricane of thoughts, you’ve been in need of taking a brain dump.
What is a Brain Dump?
Thoughts tend to be abstract. They come in the form of movies, pictures, feelings, and words in varying shapes and sizes. Each thought we have has its own complexities and personal memories tied to them. When overwhelmed by many of these complex mental objects, we require a release.
Brain dump is simply taking all the thoughts in your head and putting it on to a piece of paper so that you can actively work with it. It’s almost like releasing the wild animals in your mind and dissecting them in a biology lab.
What You’ll Need
And a pen or pencil mightier than the sword
Note that this can also be done digitally on your favorite word editor, however I find working in the physical more fruitful
Be imperfect; Make up the structure as you go
Be swift, time is of the essence
Paradoxically, take your time
Rule #1: Be imperfect; Make up the structure as you go
It’s vital not to be stuck on any formatting rules while doing this. Give yourself the freedom and room to make things up as you go. Each time you do a brain dump things and they come out in sequences and structures that you would never expect them to. I will be relying heavily on the creative side of your mind so allowing yourself to be messy is one of the most powerful things you can do while doing the brain dump. If you absolutely need some structure, using the form of bullet journaling will be incredibly effective.
Rule #2: Be swift; Time is of the essence
Jot things down one bullet point at a time. As each idea is complete, you can move onto the next bullet point. You can liberate yourself from having to follow any spelling and grammar rules. It comes out however it comes out It comes out however it comes out, and it can be revised and improved at a more appropriate time.
You’re going to want to move fast because ideas are going to flicker in and out of your head and you won’t want to miss out on anything important. I was going to come a different sequences different orders different ways. And they’re going to come faster than you can write them down. So be quick, be nimble and quickly write them down as fast as possible.
Rule #3: Take your time; Haste makes waste
Paradoxically, don’t stress out on getting it all out. Focus on everything OK if it’s in perfect. Take your time. There’s no time limit for this. Remove the stress that will kill the creativity in you and kill the flow in you. There’s no time limit so be sure to mitigate mental choking with that freedom.
Firstly, brain dumping will give you the opportunity to clear and organize your thoughts. There is value in both the garbage and the treasure you will find. You can finally classify noise and eliminate it from your life. When noise shows up again in the future, you can recognize it for what it is and be unphased.
Secondly, You will also be able to recognize thoughts that are actually valuable and begin prioritizing them accordingly. Often, you’ll find that many ideas complement each other and even find ways to execute them better. You can check out my post on ABCDE goals for more details.
Lastly, brain dumping is going to free you from feelings of being overwhelmed and allow you to become more cool, composed, and methodic in life. Goodbye anxiety, hello relaxation
I liken brain dumping to mental flossing. It’s removing all the menacing thoughts in the cracks of your mind. Some thoughts reside in the hard-to-reach areas and don’t reveal themselves easily. When one of their louder buddies is screaming for attention, synapses connect, and you can remove a string of ideas you didn’t even know where waiting for you the whole time.
Nonetheless, taking a brain dump is one of the most powerful tools you have at your disposal and should be performed regularly to avoid explosive mental diarrhea.