Do you ever have moments when you’ve got so many thoughts going around your head that you can’t think clearly? One of the most effective ways of getting clarity and focus is to get your thoughts out of your head and down onto paper where you can organise them and take action. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, check out this post on how to do a brain dump to declutter your mind.
What is a brain dump?
A brain dump has got to be one of the most unattractive names for something that works wonders when you’re feeling overwhelmed or up to your eyeballs in things to do and remember! Very simply, a brain dump helps you get all your thoughts out of your head and onto paper.
This will have two really important benefits:
- It will declutter your mind, so you can focus and think clearly again
- Seeing your jumbled thoughts on paper will enable you to organise, prioritise and take action on them
How to do a brain dump to declutter your mind
1. Grab some paper and pen(s)
Any paper will do at this stage, or you can use your favourite notebook if that’s readily to hand.
You can either use just one pen or go for different colour pens for different areas of your life e.g. kids, school, work, family, relationships, money, health.
It might help to see it all colour-coded when you look back on what you’ve written. But in my experience, it just makes it more difficult to make sure you’ve written down as much as you can. If you have to stop to choose the right colour, you’re more likely to lose your train of thought.
Simplest is often best so I would advise just one pen, but if you work better with colour-coding, then go for that!
2. Write down all your thoughts as they come to you
Don’t worry about the order in which you think about them. Often the biggest problems or issues will come out first, but if something small and niggly comes to mind, just write it down.
Don’t worry about whether you’ve spelt it right, or the sentence is grammatically correct or if it would make sense to anyone else reading it. As long as you can read it back and you can understand what you’ve written then that’s fine! Just get everything down on to paper and out of your head.
3. You now have a visual list
You can see everything clearly and visibly in front of you so you don’t have to worry about remembering all of it in your head. Your mind should be filled with less mental clutter as all your thoughts are now on paper rather than whirling around in your head.
You can see exactly what’s been stressing you out or worrying you. Are you starting to feel any better and a little less overwhelmed?
4. Organise your thoughts
Now you can start to make sense of what you’ve been thinking, make some order out of what you’ve written and put in place plans to change or make things happen. How you do this will depend on how you’ve written your list.
If you’ve written it in list form, maybe with bullet points, then you could just use this list and tick things off as you do them.
Or, if you’ve written a whole essay you might want to re-jig this into a list format, taking each point in turn and forming it into a separate line or bullet point.
You could highlight different areas of your life in different colours.
You could make separate mini lists for each area or simply reorganise your list by order of priority, most urgent or important things at the top.
5. Take action
Whatever strategy you used to organise your thoughts, find a way of breaking it all down into bite-sized chunks that you can now take action over, one point at a time.
Try to address each point, deal with it and then tick it off or cross it out. There’s an emotional release that happens when you cross things off a To Do list and you feel you’ve done them and got them out of the way.
When should you do a brain dump?
If you’re feeling buried under your thoughts, there’s too much going on and you can’t think straight then it’s definitely time to do a brain dump! Brain dumping can also be very therapeutic and helpful at other times when you just need to work through a problem or situation.
However, sometimes you do think of things at the very moment when you can’t do much about them. If you haven’t got pen and paper to hand or 30 minutes of free time, don’t worry!
You can do a brain dump any time and anywhere, even if it’s in the car waiting to pick the kids up from school. Just use the Notes section on your phone and brainstorm some thoughts. You can pop them on your main brain dump list later.
The benefits of decluttering your mind
Next time you’re feeling frazzled try a brain dump! It won’t solve all your problems but it’s a great trick to help you try to get rid of your mental clutter relatively quickly and easily to free up your mind.
These are just some of the main benefits:
- Organise – Use your brain dump to put your thoughts into some sort of organised order so you can see easily what’s been on your mind
- Act – If you do a brain dump regularly you’ll be able to identify patterns of regular thoughts and worries and find ways to address these things, so you can make them easier and simpler.
- Clarity – It will help you get clarity on what’s going on in your life, things you’re worried about, areas that need a bit of work or when it’s time to make some bigger, more strategic changes in your life.
- Focus – It will help you get focus and be able to concentrate on what’s really important to you in life. It will help you find a way to spend more time and energy on these things rather than get caught up on what’s just clutter.
If you’re interested to learn more about the relationship between clutter and stress, check out my post on research into the psychological effects of Minimalism and decluttering.
Try a brain dump now
Why not grab a pen and paper and try a brain dump now? Just write down all the thoughts that pop up in your mind. You might be aware you’ve been thinking (or stressing) about some of them. But is there anything that you’ve written down that you didn’t realise you were thinking about or was troubling you?
Fill your mind with positive things, not just clutter
Instead of jumbled thoughts and feelings, fill your mind with good stuff! Things that make you happy, confident and strong. Your mind should be used for self-development, knowledge and great memories.
Don’t fill your mind with the clutter of things to remember, problems that you can solve by coming up with a plan and taking action and worries of things that may never actually happen. Get this clutter our of your head, do a brain dump and declutter your mind!
Some other posts which might help you
- Intentional living and 4 ways to live with intention now
- 15 ways to make life easier and simpler
- Why writing a morning gratitude list is one of the best things you can do all day
The next step – Shift Your Mindset
Something else that might help you declutter some of your more negative thoughts is to try shifting your mindset.
Check out my post on how to shift your mindset and grab your free copy of my Shift Your Mindset toolkit below.