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What To Do With The Brain Dump
The first step in planning — or just shifting out of overwhelm is to get everything out of your head and onto paper. - Mia Moran

What to Do with the Brain Dump

It is fall.

A new season. A time for new goals.

We are in the midst of a planathon to get your fall goals set up and working for you… You can still join in and self pace the material. It is so worth having a plan in hectic times!

Every time we are setting a 90-day goal or choosing the 3 big rocks we will focus on for the week, I always start with the same tool. I get everything out of my head and onto paper.

The purpose of this exercise is to clean out our minds and clear a way forward.

As women, we hold entirely too much info in our heads. The fact that the dry cleaning is at the dry cleaner, the dinners we want to cook, the forms that need to be filled out for the kids, the classes we would like to enroll them in, who each kid is getting along with and who they are not, the fact that you saw the spare sock behind the bed, all the big dreams and aspirations that we are waiting for the right time to create, a list of books we want to read, the three times you will exercise this week …

It is too much.

It does not leave any room for creativity, innovation, or ease.

Holding all this in your head actually creates quite the opposite — stress.

Get it all on paper

So the first step in planning — or even shifting out of overwhelm is to get everything out of your head and onto paper.

Here is how it goes down:

  • You set a timer. Start for 15 uninterrupted minutes.
  • Ask yourself what need to happen “this fall” or “this month” or “this week”
  • And start writing. You might put little things like call mom, do laundry, fill out school form. You most likely have big things in your head, things you always wonder if you can figure out, like write that book, start my own business, make x amount of money, I want to fit in those jeans, I need to find a weight loss mentor, I want to help my kids get more friends, I want to plan some daily fun, we need a beach day, want to go apple picking, need to set up the house for learning, need to order some school supplies, check-in with IKEA on the desk, remember the pillowcase in basement… and on and on.

Get it all from your head onto fresh, crisp paper.

I get asked a lot if it is good to make as you go. I find that makes the process take a bit longer and makes important items stay in your head instead of making it to paper.

So do your dump in the random order of your brain.

If you stop writing before your timer goes off, ask yourself, what’s missing. What’s just for me? What’s so big I am scared to add it?

If the timer goes off and you are feeling in the middle of the process, ask your self how much more time do I need? And recommit to the timer.

Make sure you are FULLY committed.

Once it’s all out on paper, what do you do with your list?

Then organize your list

I feel like this is the equivalent of cleaning out the closet. First, you get everything out. When you look back at the closet (which is now empty) you might feel a sense of space, relief, calm, joy. When you turn around and look at the pile on the bed, you are going to feel a brief moment of dread.

I want you to put the piece of paper aside for a moment, maybe even a whole day. Enjoy that empty brain of yours. Feel what it feels like to have done that.

This is the part of the FLOW planning process where we decide how we want to feel for the time ahead — your fall, your week, or today.

With a clear mind and your newly defined feeling pulling you forward … let’s organize the braindump.

In our cleaning analogy, organizing the braindump is taking the clothes that you have dumped onto your bed from the closet, deciding what you want and what you don’t and putting them back in an order that supports you better than before you took everything out.

This part can be done with interruption. A bit different than the energy behind actually emptying your brain.

  1. Find a notebook, get some fresh paper, open a note on your phone or a google doc.
  2. Cross something off the list. Go through your brain dump master list. Is there anything there that is not yours or just does not even resonate with you right now? Cross them off. Feel your body let go. I challenge you to cross off at least one thing.
  3. For anything that has a time, get it in your calendar and cross it off the list.
  4. Get a colored pen or your kid’s markers or have fun with digital colored text.
  5. Categorize the list. Move each thing to a category and cross off master list. Make choices. Create lists to organize your ideas. Here are some ideas:
    • Could delegate
    • Systems or Projects that Need Design (toilet paper, front hall, grocery list)
    • Pebbles (FLOW categories, work, house kids, food)
    • Rocks (FLOW categories, work, house kids, food)
    • Next Season
    • Don’t want to forget (Maybe subcategories, vacations I want to go on, dinners I want to try, books I want to read)
      • Next week

Listen to the episode to hear me flush out these categories and give examples.

In the challenge, we are figuring out goals and time blocking our days to get them done – the brain dump is step one to clear your brain and make the space to see what is that your heart is calling you to do this fall… You can do the challenge and plan your fall here. 

Doable Changes from this episode:

  • DO A BRAIN DUMP. Set a timer for 15 uninterrupted minutes. Ask yourself what needs to happen “this fall” or “this month” or “this week.” Start writing. Include little things and big things. Don’t organize or edit the list, just put down all the things swirling in your head.
  • DECIDE HOW YOU WANT TO FEEL. How you want to feel will help you prioritize things that happen in this season (week, day) and decide what things might wait for another time. What word will define your season? If you want ease, how you handle your list will be different than if you want to feel connected or energized.
  • CROSS SOMETHING OFF. I love a to-do list because it feels good to cross things off, but when our list is too long (like a whole-brain dump) it can be overwhelming. Start by crossing something off. Look for something that isn’t even yours that made it onto your list. Cross it off. Delegate something and cross it off. Put something on a list for another season and cross it off. Find a 5-minute task, do it, and cross it off. Doesn’t that feel good?
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