If you have never heard the term ‘brain dump’ before, it’s okay.
If you are not sure what it is, it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like: Getting all those ideas, voices, plans, noise, whatever, out of your head and dump them in one place where you can see them more clearly.
Brain dump, free writing, stream of consciousness, free-flowing thoughts, whatever you call it, it’s a great way to tap into that other part of your creativity and your mind.
We’ve all seen scenes in a movie or television show where someone is shouting ideas or ‘notes to self’ into a small tape recorder or now, their smartphone. It’s the same type of concept.
Performing a regular brain dump frees up space in your brain for more ideas and taps into a secret place where we have brilliant ideas tucked away that often only make a brief appearance.
Benefits of a Brain Dump
Doing a brain dump for yourself is a great idea. It’s really just a process of getting all your ideas and thoughts out to a place where you can see them in a more physical and permanent place.
You can do a brain dump on a regular basis or when you are feeling overwhelmed with all the stuff running through your mind.
It doesn’t have to be for anything really specific. You can just unload your brain whenever you need it.
Perhaps you are stressed and are having trouble sleeping or focusing at work. Sometimes our minds are preoccupied and we don’t even understand why. We are tossing and turning in bed trying to pinpoint what is bothering us and keeping us awake.
It can also keep us from concentrating on work or even when we are trying to relax or function in our lives, we can be consumed with a nagging feeling or thought we can’t quite catch.
Regardless of how you choose to do the brain dump, it’s like letting go of all those thoughts and putting them somewhere else. You can dictate your ideas into a phone, a tape recorder or write them down. Find what method works best for you.
It can be a great idea to do at work, as well. Perhaps you or your team are trying to brainstorm ideas. Getting everyone to brain dump will allow these hidden ideas to surface.
There is something very cleansing about forcing all the ideas out. You can see them written down and start to sift through them and try and make sense of them. It can be great to see your team’s ideas and start working on putting them to use.
It will allow you to be less distracted, improve your work performance and help you sleep better. When we have thoughts in our head that are causing us stress, it can consume us without us even really realizing it or having control. Writing them down or saying them out loud frees us from those stresses.
It gives us the chance to see or hear them and defuse them. Maybe we are feeling guilty about missing a meeting or a birthday party we promised we would attend.
When you can see them from the other side, they are not so tough after all. We can see what was causing us stress and then it becomes small. It’s already happened, so we can’t change it, and we can move past it.
Getting your ideas, your fears and worries out allow you to breathe and it brings you to the present. All the past worries and stresses are out now and on the notebook. You can finally see them for what they are. Then, start looking ahead.
For creative purposes, it can show us things we never really thought we were thinking about. It can also help us flesh out some ideas that were just sort of there with nothing to hang on to. Once we get it out, we can start to build on it.
These ideas and thoughts don’t have to be used right away. You can keep them for future use, while you are making room for more ideas and thoughts to come in.
It can also allow you to prioritize your day and your life. You can see what is all there at a glance and then adjust these items according to importance.
Performing the Brain Dump
Just like pulling the plug on your bath water, a brain dump is a way to get thoughts, ideas and your worries out of your head and to another platform. If you are doing these brain dumps on your own, try to schedule a time to do them.
You can treat it like you would any other part of your routine. For regular brain dumps, try to schedule them in. Perhaps just before bed, maybe you are starting to settle in for the night. Take some time to let yourself relax and write down or record whatever thoughts are there.
They don’t need to make sense or even serve a purpose right now. Just get the thoughts out. Not unlike meditation, you only need to allow your brain to start letting them come and you can write them down.
You can do it at the beginning of your day. Make a list of whatever comes to mind. There may be a bunch of things you need to do that you thought you would remember, but due to a lot of other thoughts running around in there, they get lost.
Do it throughout the day. Jot things down as they come to you. It could be anything at all.
- Pick up Jenny’s skates
- Call mom
- We need onions
- Fire Tom
Even people with the best memories can forget.
Find Your Own Brain Dump Method
Whatever works best for you is what is best. If you want to make lists, then that’s great. A lot of people find that it is the best way to get things out and organized. You can clearly see everything and if it’s a list of things you need to do, then start working your way down the list.
If free association or free writing works best for you, you will also see benefits there. It’s a great way to brain dump, by allowing the brain to just free flow and you write them down. It may not look like much, but it’s still your thoughts, and there are there, nagging you for a reason.
The free writing method is really effective for getting out your creative ideas. If you are trying to write a song, come up with an advertising slogan or a clever idea for a fundraising function, it will loosen up a lot of ideas. You may not even find the answer right away, but you will have the ideas written down and you can use them later on if needed.
It also gives you a piece of your history. If you are stressed about a meeting at work or dental surgery, you can write it down. Then, a few weeks later when you are stressed again, you can look back and see a way through these periods of anxiety.
A good brain dump is beneficial in so many ways. Whether you need to get your ideas down for your next blog post, your grocery list for tomorrow or your company’s new mission statement, it’s all in there. You just need to allow it out.
You could even combine it with meditation if you practice it.
Meditation is the art of freeing the mind and letting thoughts flow. You could use your smartphone or a small recording device to capture it all.
Meditation only takes a few minutes, so record yourself free talking and see what comes out of it. You might surprise yourself.
We all forget things or don’t quite finished project that we start. It can be something we promised ourselves we would do but never did. That list of New Year’s Resolutions comes to mind. Use your brain dump to revisit those promises and make good on them. No one will expect you to run a marathon or lose 40 pounds, but you can start.
Put these lists or notes somewhere you will see them every day. On your desk, taped above the bathroom sink. You can add more things as they come to mind because one item you add will remind you of five more. That’s why it’s called a brain dump. Once you start, you have to keep going.
Think of it as your junk drawer in the kitchen or your desk. We all have one.
Have you ever just dumped the whole thing out in a fit of frustration looking for something silly like a rubber band?
Once it’s all out, you can look at each piece, decide if you need it and discard the rest.
Then, put the rest of the stuff away all taken care of and organized.