The other night my brain was flooding with information. I was getting ready for bed and knew that sleep was going to evade me if I did not do something. If I fall asleep with too many thoughts accumulating in my brain and wake up in the middle of the night, those thoughts will revive and I will have trouble going back to sleep. Sleep is important. It affects how my day transpires, so I have to do something to make sure it happens.
Often times, my thoughts are simply mundane activities that I need to get done, but I need to write them down somewhere so that I do not forget. My thoughts clutter my brain. Sometimes the thoughts are about a project or something that is happening in the future. I don’t really need to be thinking about them right now. What happens is that when I have too much on my mind, I ‘try’ to remember it all, but, eventually, my mind will clear itself to make more space, and I will forget something.
The busier you are, the more intentional you need to be about eradicating clutter from your mind. Transferring the clutter to paper relieves my mind of useless information, and helps me relax. Why useless? Because if it is not something I need to be dealing with right now, then I do not need to clutter my mind thinking about it. It also allows me to pinpoint the truly important things that I need to take care of.
I have two methods of freeing my mind of clutter. The first is the obvious list. Just write it all down in list format. Don’t worry about organizing it; just get it on paper. Later, when you are ready to tackle some of those things, you can prioritize the list and go from there. For now, especially if you are doing this before bed, just extracting the clutter from your mind and putting it on paper is the goal.
The Brain Map
This is certainly not a new idea, but I find it extremely useful. I use this method when I have a lot of information on my mind about a specific project or event. Everything is related in some way and I need to map it out. I use this when getting ready for a baby, preparing to move, planning for a future goal, a specific project, an event that I am in charge of, etc.
The map format organizes itself on paper, and allows me to see at a moment’s glance what things are related to each other which, in turn, saves me time. If I see a couple of things that involve computer time, I can lump those together and save time by not having to come back later and do them. It also makes it easier to delegate if you are organizing an event. An entire section of the ‘map’ can be delegated to someone else.
A picture is worth a thousand words, so here is an example of one from a move. I don’t have the actual one I did as it has been thrown out, so I just made this one up which means it is probably not accurate, but you will get the idea.
Whether it is a list or map format, dumping all the information will help you relax, and give you a better idea of what to do. I prefer to do this in the evening as it helps me sleep better knowing that it is all out on paper. I also do it anytime I am getting ready for something and my head is starting to swim.
Mind clutter, just like physical clutter, is stressful. So go ahead and dump it.
Do you find brain dumping to be helpful? What is you preferred method of getting information from your mind onto paper?