Make a Brain Dump List to Boost Your Productivity


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Or, how using a brain dump list can set you free.

I’m a big believer in lists.

I actually probably place too much faith in lists, as if I can cram all my hopes onto a piece of paper and somehow magically the day will expand so I can actually get all those things done.

While I know lists aren’t magic, and my adding thing after thing doesn’t mean I’ll actually get them all done, there’s one kind of list where the length is actually a good thing.

Meet the Brain Dump List

notebooks full of notes

A brain dump list is exactly what it sounds like: a list of whatever you can think of that needs doing.

It’s not a daily to-do list, but includes items you know need doing that never seem to make it to your daily list (making that phone call you’ve been putting off, putting away the Halloween decorations, chores you never seem to get to). You might also call it a master list.

Mine includes blog post and project ideas, a mental walk through of my house where I listed things that need to be done in each room, book ideas, errands and more.

It is four pages long.

The Life-Changing Magic of a Brain Dump

serious business woman notebook
A cute notebook helps, too. This is a ban.do one; here is one similar.

And while the immensity of all those things to do can feel overwhelming, an amazing thing can happen when you write it all down.

You don’t have to think about it so much.

I don’t know if other people’s thoughts mostly consist of a running to-do list of things you need to do, want to do and what you’re doing next, but that’s my brain (hello, anxiety!).

Having a brain dump doesn’t completely eliminate the checklist in my brain, but if I know it’ son my list I have a little comfort in knowing it’s been recorded and I don’t have to dwell on it.

Somehow things don’t have as much energy and power when reduced to a single line on a list.

Making the List Things Happen

notebooks for brain dump and beyond
All my notebooks: for morning pages, big lists and little lists.

The other key for me is moving items from the brain dump list to my daily list regularly, and making sure I actually do them.

I don’t want the brain dump to become the repository of lost dreams. I actually want to get these things done.

So maybe for me that’s one chore and one project making it to my list every day. Or maybe a bigger project like cleaning out the attic makes the list every day for a week or until it is done.

How you want to tackle it will depend on your list and the time you have to devote to it. But I think you will find just writing it all down motivates you to want to cross some things off.

I wrote my list on a Sunday and crossed off five things that same day. The next day I made no progress, but that’s OK.

Every day I can choose a couple of things and try again. It’s way better than picking from the giant jumble in my head.

Do you use a brain dump list? I’d love to hear about it.

the life changing magic of brain dump lists
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One Comment

  1. Tom

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