How to use brain dumps to organize your life by writing everything down on paper.
If you’re anything like me, you have a lot of thoughts. Sometimes so many thoughts run through your head on a daily basis that it can be hard to remember something as simple as what you ate for breakfast earlier in the morning.
Additionally, the other downside to thinking a lot is that negative thoughts have a lovely tendency to stick in your brain. So if you think a lot, and have a predisposition to anxiety/depression/other mental illnesses, those negative thoughts can quickly spiral you into unhealthy thinking patterns.
So how can you combat your inability to remember important things as well as have a safe place to discard your negative thoughts?
The answer is by using a brain dump.
This post will help you learn what brain dumping is and how to utilize one to help add structure to your life!
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What is a Brain Dump?
What’s the meaning of a brain dump, anyway?
A brain dump is a tool to help you dump all of the thoughts in your brain by putting it on paper to help you store, organize, and process information at a later time. It’s a little different from traditional journaling as this tool typically has minimal structure and no prompts. You can write anything you want to get out of your head.
The hope is by writing out everything you’re thinking in a brain dump, you can:
- Remember things you’d likely forget without writing it down
- Have a safe place to write out your thoughts and emotions when feeling overloaded
- Put everything in one place to access later
- Encourage creativity and problem-solving by addressing concerns rather than ignore/forget them
If you’ve seen one brain dump, you’ve seen one brain dump. This creative type of spread looks very different from person to person, but the principle is the same.
A brain dump is a safe place to jot down whatever you need to help organize your life, clear your head, and help prioritize your tasks.
It can help you start your day with a clear focus by writing out everything that is in your mind. Brain dumps can help you be more functional during the day when you have to write information quickly and don’t have time to organize it.
Why Do Brain Dumps Work?
So why does something as simple as putting feelings and thoughts into written word provide so much benefit?
First, writing things down can actually help improve memory and recall.
Writing down your emotions can also help you process them better. There are studies that show that writing down emotions, in general, can help improve mental processing.
Writing things down in a brain dump puts you in a position that makes you more likely to achieve the things you write down. Permitting, at least, they are related to future goals/ideas/aspirations. This is because writing things down makes you more likely to take action. Notetaking is a more effective memory and learning aid because you’re taking the time to think about and process what you need to do.
Additionally, by writing things down, it helps to organize that information so you can take the best action.
In a way, braindumping is almost like a functional stream of consciousness exercise!
Benefits of Using a Brain Dump
So how can using brain dumps help you become a more productive person?
- Using a brain dump helps you to improve your focus and productivity levels
- Writing down information makes you more likely to remember the information, as well as improve mental recall.
- Can help reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression since you aren’t keeping them in your mind
- It’s a tangible place to access your extras when you have time and ability
- Helps provides perspective and encourages problem-solving
- A great to-do list opportunity if you have free time and need to tackle important tasks
Like I mentioned earlier, just the act of writing things down can prove influential
Supplies to Start a Brain Dump
Traditionally, most people who create these utilize simple pen and paper.
Scribbles that Matter – Perfect for notes, bullet journaling, doodling, journal writing, and more! Great paper quality along with different notebook sizes to help suit your needs.
Tombow Dual Brush Pens – Want some fun markers? I absolutely adore these brush pens! They include two tips; one for brush lettering, and the other is a broad tipped marker option. I love the blending and doodles that you can create with these beautiful pens.
Tombow Twintone Markers – Want less complex markers? These awesome markers have two tip options so you can select a color and nib that best suits your needs! Beyond brain dumping, these are incredible for coloring and general notetaking as well.
Faber Castell Fineliners – These awesome pens are perfect for doodling and writing! You can use them for many other things beyond brain-dumping as well, so if you’re looking for a quality pen, I highly recommend these!
Digital Braindumping Tools
However, there are some people would prefer to do this with technology for various reasons. Other tools create a digital brain dump include:
Google Docs: I love Google Docs because I have access to it everywhere and it’s free. Remember that brain dumps don’t have to be super fancy, you just need to write it down. You could do the same with Microsoft Word as well.
Notes App on Your Phone: Your phone likely already comes with a notes application and this is a great way to start using brain dumps on a regular basis.
Procreate: This is a great app if you like the idea of writing it down with doodles and flexibility, but would prefer to use a digital format.
Workflowy: One of the unique aspects of Workflowy is that it’s virtually a digital to-do list. But beyond writing down tasks, you have the opportunity to break down information even further. So if you were to create one using this tool, when you choose to come back to the information later, you can create sub-points to help organize your information further.
Where Can I Do a Brain Dump
The beautiful part of writing down anything is that you can literally write it anywhere. All you need a blank, consistent place where you can turn to it regularly. Here are some terrific places to consider putting a brain dump.
- Brain dump on your phone
- Create one in your school notebooks
- In your planner
- On a random piece of paper
- In your journal
So if you feel the need to go out and get a bunch of things you don’t have- fear not! A brain dump is perfect pretty much anywhere, and you probably have a notebook or app that will suit your needs just fine.
Bullet Journal Brain Dump
A bullet journal is a perfect place to have one! Since you’re already using it as your planner, tracker, and journal, a brain dump is a simple page to have.
In fact, one of my favorite places to stash this page in a bullet journal is actually in the back. If you carry your bullet journal everywhere, as I do, when you have something you need to write down quickly it’s super easy to just open your notebook to the back and write everything now.
How to Create a Brain Dump
Depending on where you choose to create your brain dump, it can be as simple as leaving a few blank pages in your bullet journal, planner, or notebook with a header labeling it ‘Brain dump’.
You can decorate your brain dump or leave it empty for future notes and doodles.
If you choose a digital format, creating a brain dump is as simple as creating a special folder, a section within your app, or an empty document.
Just pick a format and go!
Brain Dumping Video
Need a visual on how it looks to put together your very own brain dump? This helpful video from Alexis AKA MissTrenchcoat will show you one way you can set up a braindump in your own notebook.
What To Write In a Brain-Dump
So what types of writing can you include in a brain dump?
Honestly, the sky is the limit, but if you need more tangible ideas, here are some examples of what people include in their own brain dump:
- Your thoughts
- Your feelings
- What is happening in your life
- Quotes/Poems/Song lyrics that you want to remember for later
- Your goals
- Your dreams
- Life aspirations
- Your biggest worries and fears
- Addresses for invitations
- Websites you want to check out later
- Books you want to read
- Movies you want to watch
- Grocery lists
- To-Do List
You can literally write down whatever you want to! That said, it’s different from a journal because a journal is generally
But beyond just writing things, you can also use one to:
- Mindlessly doodle
- Practice your hand lettering
- Test out different types of pens/markers/paints
- Fiddle with stickers
People think that braindumping is just for writing, but you can do whatever you want with it.
When to Use a Brain Dump
When is the best time to write in a brain dump? Well, I don’t think there is “the best time” to use one!
Here are a few different ways people using mind dumps, along with the pros and cons of each.
Writing Things Down At Specific Times
Some people will use them at a specific part (or parts) of the day, almost like a journal format. They will use these times to release information, remember ideas, and jot down whatever their heart desires. In a way, they create a brain dump exercise and practice it regularly, if that makes sense.
One con of using a mind dump in this manner is that you may still forget information or not be able to access it at times you may find your brain dump handy.
Notetaking Whenever You Need It
Thus, my favorite time when to use a brain dump is ALL the time. And no, I don’t mean writing in it every single moment of every day. Instead, I mean I prefer to have access to it at all times.
Often I carry my bullet journal with me everywhere I go. That way if something pops up and I need to write something down, it’s there.
The only con of carrying one with you everywhere is if you don’t like the idea of carrying around a planner or notebook with you all the time, this may not be so helpful. If you like the concept of being able to access your brain dump whenever you want, you can always keep a mini notebook that is easier to carry. Or you can digital brain-dump since you likely have those tools with you at all times anyway!
How to Organize A Brain Dump
This point won’t necessarily apply to everybody who uses a mind dump, but there is some valuable knowledge in what do with the information you write.
If you intend to use the information for reminders and progress, here is a super helpful way to help with organizing your pages.
Go through your page frequently
Make it a plan to go through your brain dump on a regular basis to scan for information that you want to use at a later time. This is probably the biggest area of improvement I see when other people use one. Often they will just write it down and never go back through the information again.
Yes, it’s for anything you want to write down, but it’s important that you take action on whatever you write down. So set aside a few minutes daily or once a week to go through your pages for anything information you may need to use.
Dedicate a few pages for your brain dump
If you place your brain dump in a planner, notebook, or bullet journal, you’re going to want to make sure you have the space for your words and doodles. I’ve seen a lot of people create a one-page layout then shortly run out of space. Whoops!
It’s hard to figure out how much space you will realistically need for this page, but I’d recommend dedicating 2-6 pages toward this exercise. It’s one of those types of spreads that really is more functional when you can keep all of your information.
Not to mention, having too much space is less of a problem than having too little.
Make a Plan for the Information
Once you go through the information you’ve written down, what are you going to do with it? How do you plan to take actionable steps so you can remember what to do with your scribbles?
Here are some actionable steps to transfer your information:
- Add the information to your to-do list
- Plan a time to complete your task
- Create a bullet journal collection
- Write an expanded journal entry
The most important thing is that you take regular action with the information you write down. Why? Because I’ve kicked myself for writing down important information… and never using it!
Brain Dumping Will Transform Your Life
It’s hard to believe that just having a place to jot down whatever is so beneficial, right? But the evidence is clear. If you don’t write down whatever you have in your mind, that information is either going to stay stuck in your head or become completely forgotten about.
The best part is that a mind dump doesn’t require you to be perfect or require you to create complex systems to use them. They are flexible and creative as you desire them to be.
Have you been wanting to figure out how to clear your mind and focus better? Set aside space in your planner, notebook, or get an app to reap the benefits of the brain dump right now!
Do you use a brain dump? How has it changed your life? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments so others can learn all the wonderful ways they provide benefit.
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