Dealing with racing thoughts is the literal worst. As soon as your alarm goes off, you already have so much on your mind. Maybe things are getting busy at work or you’re trying to stay on top of school. You could be going through a transitional period like a big move or job change. Perhaps you are generally feeling anxious or overwhelmed. Thoughts tend to get messy during periods of high stress, but a brain dump can help!
Because of my anxiety, I deal with racing thoughts on a daily. I’m also a journal lover. If things get stressful, I always revisit my bullet journal. This helps me feel more in control of what’s going on in my life. I even created a section for free writing filled with self discovery journal prompts!
So, what does a brain dump even mean? I asked myself that same question when I found out about the concept. After some research, I realized that I was doing one each time that I wrote in my journal!
What is a Brain Dump?
Essentially, you’re jotting down your thoughts freely until you feel a sense of relief.
There is no “right” way to successfully achieve a brain dump. The goal is to declutter your mind and reduce stress. It’s a nice way to “dump” your thoughts in one place. In doing so, you’ll be able to see everything laid out on paper and eventually get organized.
Signs You Need a Brain Dump
There are many scenarios that call for “dumping” your thoughts on paper. Here are just a few questions to ask yourself:
- Are you going through a stressful period?
- Did you recently experience a major life change, like a move or new job?
- Is there something going on in your personal life at the moment?
- Does the thought of checking off your “to do” list overwhelm you?
- Do you feel anxious, stressed or tired?
- At the moment, are you having trouble making a decision?
- Are you unsure of what you really want?
- Has organization been an issue in some way lately?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, a brain dump may help you gain clarity!
When you’re overwhelmed, it isn’t an easy task to detangle your thoughts. During a brain dump, you’ll be able to openly address what you’re thinking without any judgement. This ultimately should be a cathartic and insightful experience. You’re simply getting everything off your chest and writing what comes to your mind. By the end of the exercise, you will hopefully feel relieved and more in control of things.
How to Do a Brain Dump
1. Pick an outlet.
This first step is essential. Before doing a brain dump, you want to be able to find the best outlet for your needs.
Do you like to get things down physically on paper? Are you a someone who enjoys using markers and highlighters? Or do you prefer typing everything out on your laptop? Is it more productive to make this exercise an entry in your bullet journal or agenda?
Take a moment to think about where exactly you’ll be jotting down your thoughts.
2. Find the perfect spot.
Next, make sure you’re in a quiet and comfortable area. This could your bedroom, home office, or even a cozy spot in your local coffee shop. A calming space is necessary for writing because you’ll be able to think more clearly.
3. Free write until you feel better.
Write what’s on your mind. Remember there is no right way to do a brain dump. Maybe you’d prefer to list ideas on paper as they come or treat this exercise as a diary entry.
Personally, I do a little bit of both. At first, I’ll check in with myself and free write for a few moments. This step helps if I’m feeling emotional and down. Then, I’ll jot down random thoughts like “need to respond to that email” “don’t forget to set up auto pay” or “decide on dinner for tomorrow.”
I try my best to write authentically even if it’s disorganized.
For example, I have doodles of flowers, a grocery list, and random song lyrics in one of my bullet journal pages!
Don’t worry if your page looks messy. Brain dumps are going to inevitably be messy. It’s important to get everything down in one place before thinking about organization.
4. Take a step back.
When you’re done writing, take a break. Give yourself a little breather, because “brain dumps” can be initially tough to digest. Step away and do something that relaxes you. Personally, I like to read, bake cookies, play the Sims, or watch videos on YouTube. These hobbies are fun and also help to ease my mind!
5. Organize your thoughts.
Finally, it’s time to get organized. After you’ve taken a break, sit down with your writing for a moment. Start a new page in your journal (or other outlet) and divide your writing into various categories. This can be done by sectionalizing everything based on different aspects of your life.
Categories will vary depending on the general subject matters of your brain dump. However, here are are a few ideas:
- Personal Life
- To-Do List
- Health & Wellness
Take a look at your list and analyze the categories. This is where markers, highlighters and colored pencils come in handy!
Which thought is the most urgent? Pick two or more pressing items on your to-do list and start with those first.
Also, don’t worry about categorizing every thought into a neat list. You can add a separate section for random thoughts. Delete anything that seem unnecessary.
Continue to address each item on the list, but work at your own pace. These things take time!
Example of My Brain Dump:
Personally, I always find it helpful to look at examples! Here’s what my initial brain dump looks like:
- Creating a monthly calendar for the blog
- Dinner recipe ideas for the week
- Monitoring my anxiety levels and overall mood
- Emails & Calls
- Social media scheduling, especially Pinterest
- New music that I want to listen to for the month
At first, my thoughts seem pretty messy. In reality, there are only three sections to my brain dump: home, self care, and blog. I’ll categorize my ideas so that they each fall under one of the three categories.
Next, I’ll only focus on a few immediate tasks. Maybe it’s simply responding to an email and scheduling pins on Pinterest that night.
Lately, I’ve been sticking my lists on the fridge. This way, I can slowly continue checking in with myself as the week progresses. It’s a much more organized way to address my thoughts! I always feel so much better after crossing off another task!
20 Prompts to Clear Your Mind
1. What are your biggest goals for the month?
2. Can you think of a stressful task in your life that you’re avoiding?
3. What will truly make you happy?
4. Is there someone you need to get back to?
5. Where do you want to go on your next vacation?
6. How are you generally feeling at the moment?
7. Are you devoting enough time for self care?
8. Where do you want to be a year from now?
9. Do you have any regrets? If so, how can you move forward?
10. What hobbies are you most interested in and why?
11. Do you have any work projects you want to start?
12. Did you go through a recent life change? How did it affect you?
13. When was the last time you cleared your inbox?
14. Are there any projects you need to get done at home?
15. What do you need to let go of?
16. How can you best organize your upcoming appointments?
17. What does your daily routine look like? Do you need to tweak anything?
18. Have you congratulated yourself for achievements lately?
19. Do you need to start planning a bigger event, like a wedding or housewarming party?
20. Are you spending enough time offline? How can you can create more of a balance?
Brain Dump Printables
I hope that you enjoyed this post, lovelies! Have a wonderful day! x
Have you ever heard of or done a brain dump? Also, what was your experience like? Did it help with organization?