Get Organized – Day 6

Maelstrom 6

Maelstrom 6

This is exactly how my brain feels today….more than overwhelmed, as I just started a new part-time job that is full-time for the first three months…….so it means wardrobe changes and a bunch of other things, and the usual work isn’t getting done….and I am surrounded by loose ends….which is how many of us feel a lot of the time.

I do have a solution I have used….it was going to be Day 6 in the series….it’s just that Day 6 took a while getting here….

Anyway, welcome to The Brain Dump .

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 (last post), 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. There are things on here I still haven’t gotten to from the previous year. But that’s okay. 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 keep my page handy for about a week, so that if something new comes to mind – like renewing the trade name this year – I can easily add it to the list.

Keep in mind, though, that this isn’t a daily or weekly list….this is strictly a list of everything floating in your brain. You want to free up that space without having to worry about the detritus – important or not – floating there. What I end up doing is looking at the master list and choosing what’s critical for the coming week. Your  mileage may vary.

I would love for you to share your thoughts – and lists – if you try this activity. Any suggestions for improving the process?




3 Responses to “Get Organized – Day 6”

  • I’m glad to see that “Paducah Residency” stays on the list! Yes!

    It’s a good exercise. I just don’t do well with something like that because I get startled, like a deer looking into headlights and my brain freezes. I need to keep running lists nearby and write them as I think of things.

    However, I could see then taking that list and rearranging or focusing on it, like you do. Hmmmm….

  • June:

    I never thought of this process as “Brain Dump”, but the name describes it perfectly. I have always just thought of the process as my perpetual “To Do” list.
    I keep a stack of index cards on my desk for jotting down thoughts as they come to mind. (Index cards are sturdier than paper notes so don’t get crumpled and lost as easily.) When I have a moment, I put my list into Evernote, a free program that will sync between computer, tablet, and phone. In Evernote, I group my tasks, etc into more organized lists such as “Must Do This Week-end”, “Grocery List”, “Sewing Projects to Finish”. etc.
    With this program, I always have my lists with me, either at the desk, sitting on the couch, or out and about, and it is always up to date.

  • Love the index card idea – you’re right – sturdier, so I think I’m going to adopt that. I’m also going to look at syncing evernote to my new phone…..Thanks!!

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