All About To-Do Lists: Starting with a Brain Dump

source: ducttapeavenger

source: ducttapeavenger

Lucretia from GeekMommy recently shared her fear of forgetting something important because of her lack of organization. She said:

“I keep telling myself that if I could just sit down and get organized, I would sleep better – because I wouldn’t lie there thinking about what it is that isn’t organized and therefore must not be getting done.”

I think this is a common feeling even for those of us who are organized. We have so many responsibilities that just trying to keep track of everything we need to do causes our mind to race.

A few months ago, Tsh at Simple Mom shared how she uses the GTD (Getting Things Done) method of emptying her brain onto paper, and although we use different names for the process, I completely agree with everything she wrote.

What is a Brain Dump?

When my mind starts racing, I know that it’s time for a “brain dump,” a chance to just spew everything that’s filling my head out onto a piece of paper, my white board or into One Note (I’m kind of spastic that way – my preferences change on a regular basis).

Benefits of a Brain Dump

The benefits of a brain dump are many:

1. You’re able to get everything out of your head and onto paper, so to speak, so that you can stop thinking about it and worrying about forgetting something.

2. Oftentimes, once I get my list on paper, I realize that there aren’t as many things to do as I thought there were when I was trying to simple remember everything, which is often a relief!

3. Once everything is written down, it’s much easier to prioritize and decide what’s really important.

Keep Writing Until It’s Empty

A brain dump isn’t supposed to be pretty or organized. You’ll worry about making a “pretty” to-do list later. As Tsh says, the key to successfully brain dumping is to actually write down every little thing that’s on your mind – no matter how small, silly or inconsequential. Maybe it never gets transferred over to your actual to-do list, but writing it down means you no longer have to think about it, which means you’re not wasting energy trying to remember it when you could be focused on actually getting things done.

Do you regularly brain dump when your mind is racing? What’s the biggest benefit you’ve found from using this method? How about the biggest challenge?

Mandi Ehman is the founder and publisher behind Life Your Way and the co-author of All in Good Time, as well as a wife and the homeschooling mom to four beautiful girls. She lives with her family on a little slice of heaven in wild, wonderful West Virginia and loves coffee, chocolate, easy meals, beautiful things and minimalist spaces.