My 5-step Brain Dump Process
When I was teaching, I remember every Sunday around 3 or 4 in the afternoon I would start to get very anxious about the week ahead and all of the things that I had to do. At the time, I made lists upon lists and realized that what my brain was trying to do was create order in the chaos. Enter a brain dump. I realized when I wrote everything down and got it out of my head, I was able to see the tasks, prioritize them, and take action. In this article, I am breaking down my 5 step brain dump process to get organized.
First Step: Write it all down
Step one is the very essence of a brain dump. You literally write down everything that you “have” to do. Everything. All the things. EVERYTHING!! Get it out of your head and onto paper. This does two things: 1) It gets these tasks out of your head, and 2) It gives you a visual action plan. Once these tasks are down on paper you can start to make sense of them and start to prioritize which tasks are the most important.
Next: Prioritize your tasks
Now that you have your tasks written down on paper, start to prioritize which tasks you HAVE to do. Which tasks NEED to be done? Which ones can wait? Using my template, I go through and mark H, M, or L (High, Medium, Low) next to the item on my list. Prioritizing the tasks in this way really helps me form a plan of attack for step 3 when I start to tackle all the tasks.
Third Step: Tackle the Tasks
Just like in my 5 Step Paper process, the action step is the one I procrastinate the most!! But, most of the time when I just dive in and decide to tackle my to-do list, I can knock things out pretty quickly. I try to tackle all the “H’s” (high priority tasks) first. By taking on the “high” priority tasks first, I feel productive and motivated to keep going. I love checking off those boxes!
On a normal week, I don’t get through all of my tasks. I write down way more tasks then I have time in the week! But, I’ll move those low priority tasks to the next week OR take them off the list if I realize they are not important. Looking for a little motivation? Check out my 5 tips now. These tips really help me when I’m not feeling it on certain days.
Next: Create Lists for Different “Life Zones”
I normally have a few different “Brain Dumps.” One is for work, one is for The Organized Military Life, one is for family/home items, and one is for ongoing organizing projects that I want to tackle. This helps me focus on one area at a time (especially since I work from home!). To do this with my template, I simply choose “4 copies per page” and then I can keep it all in one place. See the example below:
Last Step: Designate a time each week
Even though I’m not teaching anymore, I still get that anxious feeling on Sunday afternoons. I try to take this time to do my Brain Dump so I can get it all out of my head and prepare for the week ahead. I dedicate my Mondays to tackling those BIG tasks. This way, if I am not able to complete a task in one sitting (email exchanges, missed phone calls, etc.) I can normally finish it up by the end of the week.
If you’re anything like me, your list will be a mess by the end of the week. I edit my items, cross things out, add little notes and generally keep coming back to the list as I work through the week. But, for now, I use the Brain Dump to get organized, to stay focused, and to work through those endless “to-dos.”
How do you think a Brain Dump could benefit you? Do you have a similar process? Let me know in the comments. Wanna read more from The Organized Military Life? Make sure to sign up for monthly newsletter where I will share tips, good reads, and great products. Have organization questions? Head over to my Facebook Group and ask them in there! I’m having a lot of fun acting like a dork on Instagram…come be a dork with me! Looking for help with digital organization? Click here to read about my 7 Day Digital Declutter Challenge. Thanks for reading, and happy organizing, y’all!