The Secret to Being Productive: Your Brain Dump To-Do List

The Secret to Being Productive: Your Brain Dump To-Do List

Dec 13, 2023

I’m sharing one of my secrets for being productive: the brain dump.

My post-corporate blogger brain sometimes slips into past conditioning: it’s December and the new year is dead ahead. I’m embracing that line of thinking this year- in fact I’ve set December aside in this blog and inside my Ditching the 9-5 Facebook community to focus on “dialing it back;” more specifically taking the time to recharge, review, and relax- in any order.

I started Q4 with an October 1st post sharing my ideas for the month and am ending it here for December. Because it’s easy to get overwhelmed at the end of the year and if you saw last week’s post about planning a workcation, you know I’m all about easing overwhelm.

This short post is not just the “what” and “why” of brain dumping, but the how. It includes a brain dump to-do list that can get you taking action.

RELATED: Click here to open my post on simplifying your life in a new tab.

Necessary disclaimer: As a blogger, I use affiliate links sometimes! I may receive commission from purchases I share; it does not change your price but sometimes you might get a discount.

coffee and a journal by the fireplace in order to relax with a brain dump to get organized

Photo by Prophsee Journals on Unsplash

The “what” and the “why” of a brain dump.

What is a brain dump?

I used to do them A LOT in my corporate life, but I never knew it as such.

Clearing my mind of all the clutter by listing out everything cluttering it up was always so liberating! And crossing things off, drawing arrows and circles around the words, even adding little bullet points on actions I can take to “resolve” anything that was worrying me… it was a brain dump in action.

In short: getting ideas, concerns, and “tasks” down on paper to organize them. Dumping what’s in your brain... it’s brilliant.

Why should you do it?

See above! Just teasing. But truly- getting everything visible on paper and being able to organize it all is a major step towards taking action.

Do you ever freeze up because of the overwhelm? How often do you realize that once you write it down and start a project or task… it’s not so overwhelming anymore?

That is why it’s important to do a brain dump. It’s a vital part of reviewing all aspects of your business (and your life!) and dialing it back a bit so you can see the forest for those often-missed trees.

If you’re going to recharge and relax (with family over the holidays especially!), the brain dump is truly the “review” bit that makes it easier.

enjoy the holidays by easing the overwhelm of entrepreneurship with a brain dump

Photo by Fernando Dantas on Unsplash

Brain dump everything, not just your business.

My brain dumps include everything causing me confusion, overwhelm, or worry. Even excitement!

Yes, I know this will shock those of you that have been following Free At 50 or know me personally… but I get excited about ideas and run myself right into overwhelm. It’s why I wrote the shiny objects post.

Examples of what can go into a brain dump:

  • Concerns about finances including specific expenses.
  • Events and obligations that must be added to your family or business calendar.
  • People you need to connect with/respond to.
  • Projects/goals you’re stuck on or need to devote time to.
  • Ideas that have been waiting to be researched.
  • Anything and everything that is sitting up there in your head and causing stress or overwhelm.

RELATED: Click here to read my shiny objects post.

order over chaos by doing a brain dump

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Here’s your brain dump to-do list.

1 Get a journal.

In order to “dump” everything on paper, you need a good place to dump it. I love journals because you can keep all your “brain dumps,” follow-up ideas, and notes in one place.

RELATED: Click here to get an affordable journal!

But if you are one to do better with templates and prompts, I found some brain dump printables for you. Click here!

2 Schedule brain dumps into your calendar but do them any time you need to.

We tend to use the 1st of the month to assess everything from the month before and set ourselves up for the new month. It’s why I set my brain dumps for mid-month. It helps me keep on track and minimizes stress.

use a calendar to schedule brain dumps

Photo by Eric Rothermel on Unsplash

3 Take action.

Look at everything you’ve written out and:

  • Remove things that aren’t priorities or truly don’t need to be a focus for you.
  • Highlight or circle the most important things to address.
  • Add ideas, notes, and action items to everything.
  • Create do-able, small-bite tasks and set deadlines for them.
  • Do one thing at a time.

Let’s take ‘financial concerns’ as an example.

Your action items can include:

  • identifying recurring costs and costs that can be eliminated
  • creating a spreadsheet or adding billing dates into your calendar
  • or even setting a specific amount of money aside each month to invest in a tool or resource you need

Once you start ascertaining ways to address each item on your “brain dump,” taking action and integrating tasks into your planner gets easier. And it eases the overwhelm, as well as gives you the energy and clarity to move forward.

Bonus Tip: Schedule a call to get help when you need it.

And if you haven’t heard yet, I’ve put together a structured approach to accomplishing and organizing a goal or project.

Book a call with me (free of charge!) if you want to explore whether or not my program is for you.

Click here to schedule a call and type BRAIN DUMP in the booking notes!

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