Getting Organized – Part 4: The Brain Dump
Okay, so my middle grade students would say I could bring any topic at all back to dinosaur poop and pee. But the Brain Dump is different, and it’s highly useful. I’ve been doing this at least once a month (sometimes more) for the last year, and it has really helped me organize myself. I find that as I start planning for this coming year, before I can do my backplanning, I’ve had to do a serious brain dump and keep the paper close at hand for other loose ends that float to the top.
The idea of a brain dump is to sit with a blank sheet of paper and list everything – and I mean EVERYTHING – that you need to do, whether it is urgent or not. Don’t worry about order, don’t worry about whether things go together, don’t whether about if it’s several weeks away. JUST WRITE IT DOWN.
The advantage to this is to give your brain a break and a rest. Once you take everything that you are trying to keep straight in your brain OUT of it, you don’t have to worry about remembering it all. Now it’s down on paper, and you don’t have to keep thinking about that particular task, and the next one, and three more after that. It’s incredibly freeing and sets you up to be able to make sense of what needs to be done to accomplish goals.
Here are two examples of a couple of sheets I started with on January 1, as I plan out my month and my first quarter, as well as some longer-term objectives. I collected past sheets that still had items listed, and I started a new sheet with some of the newer items arising as a result of the new year.
Nothing is in any order. My main goal is to free up my mind from worry. I want to have everything laid out so I can use these lists to organize. I realized yesterday as I was working on one particular area, that I really couldn’t just go into the backplanning process without doing this. Now, keep in mind this might not work for you, but I urge you to try it and see if you can relax a bit about getting things done without forgetting them.
I would love for you to share your thoughts – and lists – if you try this activity. Any suggestions for improving the process?