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How I do a Brain Dump

This is my response to the next question in my private conversation with my bud Kelly McCausey (click here if you are new).

Kelly asked….

My next question for you is this: How do you do a ‘brain dump‘?

Hey Kel,

I took some time off. Can you tell? My blog has been a bit neglected, but I'm back!

Speaking of blogs, I loved seeing the picture of your nieces and nephews on your blog. Thank God they are finally able to go home from the hospital and you are there to help.

As for your question about how do I do a brain dump, thankfully, I have a pea brain so there is little to dump. 😉

But, in all honesty, I LOVE and crave brain dumps. Instead of keeping everything in my head, I can free myself by putting everything on paper, so I can have less stress of trying to remember it all.

I find that writing is one of the most effective ways I figure out how I really feel about things. I find that even writing articles and blog posts, I'll often stop and say “Wow! Do I really feel that way?” and usually I find that, yes, indeed I do. I find it similar to journaling — except everyone gets to read it! (Scary!) Writing helps me to organize my thoughts in a way that reaches past my busy, active part of my brain to connect with deeper levels of … something. This is also one of the reasons I'm getting my white board. I'm very visual. In fact, you may not know this about me, but I prefer buying learning ebooks to buying audios because I learn better when I see than when I hear.

As for a traditional business brain dump, though, I have to do that away from the computer. I have too many distractions at my computer and I need to feel pen in hand in order to get everything out of my brain. My husband is very technical, so he prefers to organize in a program we use here called Fogbugz. As long as he has everything in Fogbugz, he's a happy camper. I, on the other hand, prefer handwritten lists — which has caused us to butt heads on multiple occasions. (MULTIPLE) 🙂

For me, my brain dumps usually consist of a big pad of legal-sized paper and a pen and a series of questions. 1. What do I need to do with my business stuff? 2. What would I like to do with my business stuff? 3. What do I need to do with my personal life? 4. What would I like to do with my personal life?

I find that this gives me the opportunity to list the things that are critical (must-do) and things that are dreams and ideas (would like to do). I prefer to keep the personal and business lists separate, just for my own sanity. If I saw them on the same piece of paper, I think I'd melt down!

After I have my four lists started, I go somewhere quiet for awhile (usually when the kids are at school) and I start writing. I don't stop until I feel I have everything out of my head onto paper. Then, I normally feel so liberated, I take a nap!

One other thing I do to keep that feeling of overwhelm down is to keep pads of paper by the bed and in the car. That way if I wake up in the middle of the night with a thought or idea, I can jot it down and fall right back to sleep. And, if I'm driving and have an idea, I don't have to tell the kids “Remember this for Mommy”. I can instead say “Jot this down for me, please.” It's very freeing to me.

I'm not sure if that all made sense, since I kind of hopped around from a brain dump to daily sanity, but I think you get the picture. If not, go ahead and ask.

ok, Kel. Your turn. You're getting organized for 2008 — and Focused. What are some of your tips for staying on track this coming year? Make any interesting decisions? I'm sweating, thinking about trying to organize and focus this year, so I'm all ears!
I look forward to chatting soon,


(Keep an eye on Kelly’s blog for her reply.)

I appreciate shares and I adore comments! Please share your thoughts.

  • Tamara

    Wow what a great idea. I have heard of brain dumping before but never actually payed any attention to it. Sounds like something I may have to start doing. Thanks for sharing the way you do it.

  • Administrator

    Hi Tamara, Doing brain dumps frees up a lot of my energy and helps me focus. I hope it helps you, too. Thanks for reading!

  • Stefanie

    I have been doing a lot of brain dumping lately. The thing is there is so much stuff down on paper, that it really is hard to organize and make some sense of.

  • Pingback: Nicole Dean » How to Double Your Income in 2008.

  • Administrator

    Hi Stefanie,
    Good point. I’ll have to blog about that next! Thanks!

  • darina

    I use freemind

    It’s opensource and I love it, I have lots of different mind maps stuck on the wall in front of me !

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