Updated: Mar 19
Spring marks the beginning of warmer weather and new beginnings. Everything feels fresh and new. Well, everything except the inside of my house. All the clutter from being indoors so much over the winter is crammed into every nook and cranny. Needless to say I’ve got my annual spring cleaning to-do-list on my mind. Just add it to the rest of my spring to-do list: Easter, taxes, yard clean-up, switching cold weather wardrobe for warm weather wardrobe, summer vacation planning. The list could go on for a few pages at least. Lately, my to-do list feels overwhelming. Sometimes I even find myself even walking in circles around my house doing things, but not actually getting any one single thing done. It’s almost as if my mind needs to be decluttered before I can even start to think about attacking my actual to-do list. When my mind is feeling overwhelmed like this, which happens on the regular, I turn to my tried and true mind decluttering technique, a brain dump. It works every time.
A brain dump is a strategic way to get ideas, tasks, thoughts, and information out of your head. A brain dump is beneficial because it improves our ability to concentrate. By clearing our mind of unnecessary tasks and thoughts allows us to stop worrying about things that we don’t need to worry about. I use it for mental clarity and organization and there’s a bonus; it only takes 15 minutes of your time. So without further ado, here is the brain dump method I use to declutter my mind.
Step 1: Write a list of everything that comes to your mind.
I find that using a physical pen and paper is the best approach, but you could do this on a digital platform as well. Do your best not to filter yourself at all. Everything, and I mean everything, gets added from all the different categories of life. It doesn’t work if you don’t list absolutely everything on your mind. Remember there is no special order so let the pen flow even if the items on your list seem unrelated. Double and triple check that you’ve emptied the brain. Ask yourself these questions: What deadlines are coming up? Do I have any mundane miscellaneous tasks to do? (mop the kitchen floor, organize shoes, fold laundry, etc.) Do I have any work obligations coming up? Does anyone in my family have appointments for doctor, dentist, etc. coming up?
Step 2: Categorize the things you wrote down.
Your brain dump list is probably all over the place and that's totally normal.
Grab a different color pen or change the color of your text if you’re doing this digitally and next to each item identify a category in which this can be grouped and write it down. For example I might have “mom dentist appointment” and “jaxon annual doc” on my list. I would categorize these two things as “appointments” and write that next to each item on my list. Depending on your lifestyle you could have all kinds of categories. My most frequently used categories are: work, kids, personal fitness, yard work, budget, cleaning, and real estate.
Step 3: Create a separate task list for each category.
Get a clean piece of paper and create columns labeled with each of the categories you had from step 2. Then add the tasks, ideas and information into the corresponding category. I have a really easy fill in the blank worksheet you can use if you want, (Contact Me so I can email it to you!)
Step 4: Prioritize your tasks.
Now you have an organized list of tasks and it’s time to prioritize which tasks are most important. Mark the absolute most important item in each category with a star indicating this is your highest priority. Typically the most important tasks are things that need to be done first.
What needs to be completed today?
Which items don’t need to be done for 2-3 weeks?
Which items cannot be done by anyone other than me?
Knowing your priorities will help you schedule your day more efficiently. You know you have to do X, Y, & Z and if you have spare time you need to work on A, B, & C. Less time is wasted worrying trying to decide what to do first. And remember, you do not, I repeat you do not, have to do it all by yourself. It may not be realistic to do everything on your list. Let’s not forget the power of delegating tasks. Sometimes we take on tasks that were never even ours to begin with. This one is hard, but don’t be afraid to eliminate tasks from your lists. It’s easier to spot the unnecessary tasks once you put them in black and white. Do you really need to mop the kitchen floor? How dirty is it really? Could it wait until next week?
So in a nutshell doing a brain dump is one method, albeit my favorite, to declutter your busy mind this spring. 15 minutes is all it takes to lighten your mood and your to-do list. A brain dump is not the only way to get your mind out of overdrive. When we feel overwhelmed and indecisive it is simply an indication that we need to take a break to clear our mind and reorganize. There are so many ways to clear our mind or “hit the reset button” as some might say.
Here are some ideas:
Go for a run, walk or just get some fresh air
Take a hot shower
Use deep breathing techniques to activate your parasympathetic nervous system
Let go of non-essential mental baggage through journaling
Get a favorite drink or snack (e.g. hot tea)
Declutter a physical space (e.g., junk drawer, coat closet)
A brain dump is one of my favorite ways to declutter my brain and hit the reset button. What are your favorite “reset button” activities to clear your cluttered mind? Join in the conversation by sharing in the comments below.
Check out my brain dump tutorial on my YouTube channel.
About the Author
Kelly Hater, owner of Mama Bear Domain, has over 15 years of coaching experience along with a B.S. in Health Promotion specialized in Exercise Science.
She specializes in helping clients overcome mom burnout, providing a clear, decisive plan that leads her clients on a path of success. Her clients no longer let mom guilt steal their identity and goals. Moms deserve to be happy and live a fulfilling life. She personally has overcome overwhelming struggles herself. Get the accountability needed to take action. As a mom of two she gets it. Get your E-Book Mom, Open Your Eyes to Self-Awareness.
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