brain dumping technique
Have you ever had a long hard day after getting a lot of work done and you begin to feel tired but, as soon as your head hits the pillow your mind begins to tic? You start to think about all of the things that you need to get done, all of your goals, tasks and chores that need to be completed, leading you to wake up with a headache due to having about two hours of sleep from over thinking. Well I totally understand, over the last few months this has been a very hectic part of my life, from leaving school, wanting to move out, building a business and everything else that life seems to throw at you at once, I’ve been trying to juggle all of these things and if I’m honest, it’s not going to well leading to me feeling stressed (I’ve found a few grey hairs) and wanting to push everything down the line, “I’ll do it later“ seems to be the attitude for to long so, I set out to find a way to overcome these problems and here we are today.
What is a brain dump
A brain dump is a way of releasing all of the information in your head, down into a form of written words, by doing this not only are you relieving all of the built up stress that you have been storing up in your head, you can also use this technique to be more productive and get more work done.
To my knowledge, the brain dump technique comes from a book called Getting things done by David Allen who is a productivity consultant.
In this book which you can get your hands on by clicking the picture above, David explains that our brains are not made to store information, they’re made for processing. I believe David calls this exercise a RAM dump, this is because of the similarities between our brain and the inner workings of a computer, inside a computer you have something called RAM (random access memory) which is basically the short term memory of your computer whereas, the hard drive is where the long term memories are stored. Obviously our brain does have storage and can allow us to hold memories in our heads for a long time or else we would be like a gold fish but, it’s normal to not remember everybody’s name, birthday and their favorite food. For some reason we always try to treat our brain like a hard drive instead of using it with what it is best suited for which is processing, the RAM brain and when you keep trying to store tons of information in your head you’re clogging it up ultimately leading to you malfunctioning and feeling overwhelmed with stress. This is where a brain dump comes in handy as you’re offloading all of the stress out of your brain and onto a piece of paper which you can then process.
How to do a brain dump
There are many different ways of doing this however, in this blog I will be teaching you my brain dumping technique. So to start, you’re going to want to know when you’re going to do a brain dump and this is totally up to you, some people do a brain dump every week, some every day and then a larger brain dump every month, it’s totally up to you, find what works and stick to it! I would advise you to set a regular time of when and how long you are going to do it for just to make things easier, for example, if you are going to do it weekly, schedule in that every Sunday, in the morning you are going to spend 10 minutes doing a brain dump.
So, to begin all you need is a pen and a piece of paper or if you’re a technical person you can use a computer but, I personally think that pen and paper is better. All you do is write down everything that’s going on in your brain, all of your work tasks, shopping lists, friends birthdays, literally anything you’re thinking of. When you’re writing this, it’s not meant to be pretty or organized you just need to get everything down on to paper, the structure will come later on in the process. Sometimes you’re going to write a few things down and have a lot of time left even though you know there are more things to put down, a great way around this is to write a trigger list before hand and use it whilst doing your brain dump. “what is a trigger list” I hear you ask…
A trigger list is something that you write before you do a brain dump to trigger your memory to remember the things you need to do, little prompting questions that make you think “ohhh I nearly forgot that” here’s some examples you can use on your list:
What house chores have I got to do?
Do I need to go shopping?
Have I got to do some gardening?
Is it any of friends or families birthdays soon?
Am I going anywhere today?
Does the car need filling up?
Is anything worrying me at the moment?
Have I got any events coming up?
Do I need to feed the pet?
Have I got any work to do that I didn’t get done?
What would make me happier?
Have I got to do some cleaning?
Has something gone wrong this week?
Did I make plans with anyone?
Have I got any bad habits I need to work on?
What went well this week?
What do I keep forgetting to do?
Have I meal prepped?
Have I not been meditating?
Have I been skipping meals by accident?
There is so many questions that you could put on your trigger list so I think it’s best for you to make your own as it will be more personalized to your life, in mine I might put “have I written enough blog posts“ whereas your’s might say “have I done all of my school work”. Try and think of questions that remind you of the stuff that you tend to forget that need to be done regularly. That’s pretty much it for a brain dump which should help you relieve some stress but, if you want to learn how to make it better so you can be more productive you’ll have to keep reading!
How to make a brain dump better
To make a brain dump better you’re going to need to be able to process the information you’ve gathered, to use to your advantage and there is a few ways of doing this which I’ll go through now.
How to process a brain dump
You can do this in many ways and it really depends on what is on your brain dump but at a guess you’re going to have three main categories which are: Work/business, house and last but not least, social. Got to do some cleaning? That will go in the house section. Have a concert to go to with your friends? Put it in the social section. Need to make a PowerPoint? Put it in the business section. You can do this by colour coding or letters or symbols like S for social or draw a house for your home chores, whatever you think is best. After you’ve written your brain dump you might find that what you wrote was a bit vague, which is good, this is where you can break them down further, for example, if you have gardening in home chores, write down what you actually mean, did you mean “mow the lawn” or “buy some flowers” you can do this for any point of your brain dump that isn’t as detailed as you would like.
The Eisenhower matrix is a way of prioritizing tasks on there importance and how urgent it is to complete the task. You start of by drawing four squares together which make one big square, in the top left box is where the important and urgent tasks will go (you’ll do these straight away), in the top right you will put the important but not urgent tasks (you’ll schedule these in for a later date), in the bottom left box you will put the urgent but not important tasks (which you can delegate to someone to someone else) and the last box which should be the bottom right one if I’ve explained it well enough, you should put the non-important and not urgent tasks in this one, which you will just ignore. You can put each of your tasks from your brain dump in the according box and use this method to get through all of them. The eventual aim is to not have any tasks in the top left box or bottom right box so you are either, doing something important but you are not in a rush which can be stressful or it’s in the delegate box.
The 80/20 principle
The 80/20 principle has many different uses from dietary use to marketing yet, it always has the same meaning: 80% of the effects comes from 20% of the causes. You can use this rule when processing your brain dump, choose the 20% of things that are going to give you 80% of the results. For example, if you have 10 things on your brain dump, choose the two most important tasks on there and you will find that that’s where you will get most of your results from.
These are the ways that you can improve your brain dump to make it more effective which in turn makes you more productive! Just because I’ve separated these tips of how you can process your brain dump into different sections, that doesn’t mean you can’t use them together, for example, you could categories them into: Work, social, house chores and then use the Eisenhower matrix to prioritize your tasks further.
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