So one thing that’s always been constant in my life is that my mind goes a mile a minute. Becoming a parent and being self-employed only seemed to magnify that. I’m always running ideas and to-do lists through my mind. The day I discovered the brain dump, my mind was blown.
For me, learning how to do a brain dump has been huge in terms of mental health and self-care. If you’re not sure where to start or you’ve never done a mind dump before, read on! I’ve got tips for how to get started and I’m sharing why I think it might help you!
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HOW TO DO A BRAIN DUMP
How many thoughts do you have running through your head at any given time?
Pretty sure mine is somewhere around 938503940238409318. Is that even a number? I don’t know, but it’s definitely how it feels sometimes!
I make lists. I write things in my calendar spreads. But I still find myself laying away in the middle of the night pondering how old kids need to be to visit the orthodontist and what I will do if I end up having to be baseball team mom this season. Those questions lead to running lists of what I need to do to handle them.
I think you get the point. And if you do, then I hope trying to dump it all on paper will help!
WHAT IS A BRAIN DUMP?
To get started, let’s talk about what it means to have a brain dump bullet journal spread or page. (Or in my case, multiple pages.)
A brain dump is just what it sounds like. It’s a way to dump everything that is on your mind onto paper to help you clear your mind.
It helps you release and look at everything you’re worrying about, thinking about, needing to get done, etc. By getting it all out of your head, you can take charge of everything and get organized. Plus, I often feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders as soon as I’m done writing.
I love these benefits of doing a brain dump and they motivate me to take time to do one, especially when I’m feeling overwhelmed.
HOW TO ORGANIZE A BRAIN DUMP
When it comes to organizing a dump page, my advice is — DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT!
The point is that it’s a place to dump your thoughts and get them out of your head. It’s not about spending a ton of time obsessing over what it should look like.
What I like to do is use some of my current favorite colors and make a heading on a blank page. Then I switch to the writing pen I’m loving at the time and START WRITING! Or even start doodling! Whatever helps you and is on your mind!
MATERIALS FOR MY EXAMPLE
- Journal (For this example I’m using a Paperage Dotted Notebook)
- Sakura Pigma Micron pen
- Tombow Twintone Double-Sided Markers – Pastel
- Paper Cutter
- Washi Tape
For this page I used, Tombow Twintone Markers to add some color to the page before I started my dump. I also went through my washi tape and chose one that went along with the marker colors.
The key is to just write. You can set a timer or you can just write until your brain hits the end. Some people do daily dumps while other people might just do a weekly or even a monthly mind dump. For me, I do them when it feels like I need one.
It’s pretty normal for people to include a weekly or monthly brain dump page as part of their bullet journal planning. They might use it for one big dump or just to drop things on their mind. But just like bullet journaling in general, you can do whatever works best for you!
You might do yours as a list of thoughts. Maybe you make a mind map with connected thoughts. Maybe you just scribble away in one big paragraph. It’s about whatever works for you!
And you just do it. Yep, I just add a page right in the middle of my bullet journal and do a dump.
ADDING ORGANIZATION TO YOUR PAGE
Once you’ve written as much as you can to clear your mind, you can take some time to look for patterns in your thoughts and add some order to your page. There are a few things you might do once you’re done writing:
- Walk away. Once you’ve finished your brain dump and cleared your head, you can turn the page and continue on in your journal. Sometimes the act of getting it all out of your mind is enough!
- Sort thoughts. You can start another page and sort your thoughts in groups or categories to help you see connections between things that have been on your mind. If you don’t want to start a new page, use highlighters to sort the thoughts into categories using color!
- Prioritize thoughts. If you notice your dump has a lot of things you need to get done. Turn the page and start a to-do list. You can prioritize the thoughts so you have a list that can help you make a plan of action! You can even add them to your bullet journal calendar spreads!
If you’re going to sort through your thoughts, I recommend stepping away and taking a break after you do your initial brain dump to give your mind a break. Then come back and do a bit of organizing to help turn it into something even more helpful.
I also think it’s important to mention another thing — You don’t have to do something with every item you put on paper in your brain dump!
In fact, you can even cross things off your dump if you want. I’ve done this in the past if I’m working on developing a to-do list from a mind dump, I’ll go back and cross out things that aren’t related to what I want to focus on.
BRAIN DUMP TRIGGER LIST
If you find yourself wanting to do a dump but then just staring at a blank page, consider some of these prompts to get you started!
- Are you worrying about something?
- What went wrong today/this week/lately?
- What went great for you?
- Is something or someone bothering you?
- What do you need to get done?
- What do you need to get done around the house?
- What do you need to get done at work?
- What do you need to get done for your family?
- What do you need to get done for yourself?
- What do you have coming up in your life?
- Do you have any goals you want to reach?
- Is there a new habit you’d like to develop?
- How are you feeling?
It’s really just about letting go and letting the words flow. Don’t judge yourself. Just get it on the paper and breathe.
FREE PRINTABLE MIND DUMP TEMPLATE
To get you started, I created a star-themed mind dump printable template for A4 sized journals. Use the directions below to easily print it on letter size paper and then trim to fit in your journal!
1. Download your printable using the link above.
2. Open the PDF and choose the print icon.
3. Print with paper in landscape with default set as the scale.
4. Once you’ve printed your calendar, cut or trim on the light gray lines to make it small enough to fit in your journal. I use a craft paper trimmer now which makes it extremely easy to do!
5. Place in your journal using double-sided tape, washi tape, or Tombow adhesive.
6. Personalize with color, washi tape, or stickers.
7. Then start dumping all of those thoughts onto the page!
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