Time Management Tip: A Beneficial Brain Dump

Our brains, like suitcases, can only hold so much. When we try cramming information in, details begin to slip through the cracks. Before your brain reaches a tipping point, try something called a brain dump. A brain dump can be defined many ways, but we define it as the act of putting your thoughts on paper to turn them into tasks. It’s unbelievably helpful and can be completed with the following steps. 

Write - When you feel like you have an overwhelming number of ideas, dates, stressors, or tasks to remember, simply start writing them down. This mental unloading does not have to be neat or orderly. Simply write all that pops into your head. Typically, you don’t need to spend more than 5 minutes on this.

Rest - Now that you’ve “dumped” the contents of your brain onto paper, walk away. Take a moment to relax, however that looks for you. Try not to think about what you wrote down, but instead allow yourself to recharge for a few minutes. If you aren’t sure what to do, try taking a walk or singing and dancing to your favorite song. Your rest should be at least 5 minutes. 

Return - After you have adequately charged your mental battery, it’s time to go back to your paper. As soon as you return to the list, identify the top three priorities. Try to avoid over-thinking here and consider the following to help you prioritize. What is truly important? Are there any items that require urgent attention? Does anything have an impending due date? Often, after a rest, some items may not seem not as pressing and simply moving them from our head to paper can lessen their influence on us. Feel free to mark such items to revisit later. Once your top three items have been identified, immediately complete them or schedule when you will complete them. Work through them one at a time, ignoring all other items on the list except the top three. 

Repeat - Once your top three items have been completed or work for them has been scheduled, feel free to repeat the ‘rest’ and ‘return’ steps until all items on your list have been addressed. If you start to feel overwhelmed again, return to the ‘write’ stage of the exercise. The more you practice this activity, the more you will see the value in dumping your thoughts out so you can organize them into actionable tasks to simply address one step at a time.

In doing a brain dump, try not to put too much pressure on yourself to be perfect. Often, the necessity of a brain dump stems from anxiety and perfectionism; we want to get a million things done and we just can’t. The purpose of this exercise is to look at what is truly crucial in the day, week, or month ahead. Give yourself grace, and don’t forget, Origami Day is just a click away.
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