Everyday, there are so many people who depend us. Whether it is our family, our jobs, our friends, or even our pets, you are constantly having to do things. You know what a constant running to do list does to the mind? It blocks it. It takes away your ability to relax, to be centered, and enjoy the flipping moment! Have you ever been on a vacation, sitting a beach, watching the sunset and the kiddos are laughing, and suddenly you wonder, did I forget anything at the office?
That mental load is probably why you feel irritable. Why you feel confused and have that fog that never seems to go away. Your brain, darling, is full. And let’s not skate the issue here. It’s making life hell.
What if life didn’t have to be like that? What if you could get a handle on all of that wonderful, yet chaotic stuff you got in your mind? See that’s where I was, Going nuts, how do I do all of this?!
So I sat down, and I made a list.
Yep. That’s it. A list. That list is what is now what I affectionately call the Brain Dump. This list is an ultra-powerful tool, but don’t insult me thinking it’s a to do list. It’s more than that. It is the basis by which your to do list is transferred. It is how your project management is going to reach a whole new level. It is the list that is going to make your life instantly better, and more organized.
A brain dump is done by listing everything your worry about, have to do, need to do, and want to do, etc. It’s a list that we sort, organize, and transform.
Your brain dump begins with you sitting down with a pen or pencil and a piece of paper. Don’t type it. No, darling. I know you want to argue, but you must resist the need to make everything digital. You want this on paper.
When we write things down, we use so many different parts of our brain because you are engaging so many different senses at once. Writing things down puts it in the concrete realm that we live in, where things are tangible and there fore have a value or not.
Think about writing down everything in your mind, and seeing some worries, and suddenly reading them over and thinking, “You know that’s not too much to worry about after all. I can fix that.” If you didn’t write it down, that worrying thought will sit in your mind and fester, and poison every other thought that crosses its wake. Do you want to worry about things so much that you feel sick? Or do you want control?
Your list provides solace. So treat it well. Treat it like a best friend, spending time with yourself and your mind can be beautiful. Transform what you fear, into something else. Make tea, get comfy, find a cozy spot, and prepare to write.
Your list should start with what you have to do, and want to do. Then it should let you start pouring out what ideas you may have, and what worries you. Don’t worry about pretty. Just list. One item per line. Item after item. Don’t worry about length.
Your dumping session should take no more than 5-10 minutes to list everything out. Any more than that, and, well, it’s probably not that important. Let it go. If it pops up again later, you can casually add it. But don’t sit there for 30 minutes pondering on the everything in the universe you want to change and conjure. That’s not the point of this.
The parts of the list
I have noticed that everything on that list is probably going to be 1 of 4 things, technically 2 things. Those list items are going to be either tasks, projects, worries, or ideas. Let me explain.
A task is an item that is basically an action item that must be done, but is one thing and done. Like filling up the car with gas. Sending an email. Returning a call.
A project is as item that is made of many tasks. You’ll notice that these stick it as you go through your list. It seems vague, has no details, and may feel overwhelming. These projects require time to plan them through, and therefore, in this system, a project triggers a new task, “Time to plan this project.” Because you want time to look at the goal, plan how to get from here to there, and all the little steps its going to take. Those steps are tasks! And projects many tasks.
Take it from me, you want to assign value to these projects. What are you going to get out of it? That will make you motivated to deal with it.
Ideas and Worries.
Ideas and worries stick out just as much as projects, because they usually point to some kind of problem that needs solving. Problem solving takes work, and sometimes many tasks. Usually, I find that ideas and worries tend to be projects.
Take your ideas and assign a deadline to plan it out, because you never know how amazing that ideas is until you really look at it. That means there’s a project, and a task now to be created to plan the new project.
Worries are either things you can change or things you can’t, and they all point to a problem you want/need to solve. Sometimes, things that worry us that seem out of our hands really do have actions we can take to make it better. I find that by seeing what worries me as a problem that I can solve, makes it easier to deal with.
Sometimes, though there really is nothing to do. In that case, it’s time to let that go. Just scratch it out, and goodbye forever. No need for that worry to take up space in your head rent free.
When you have your list written, simply write a T or P beside the item, or I and W to go through later if it helps, and then re-sort.
Too many items
You have dumped your brain, you have sorted your list with Ts and Ps. Tasks and Projects are the foundations in which this system is built on. From here we can see a massive list, and think, this is too much. Well, we can do something about that, too
A lot of times, we spend time on things that have no value or meaning. This can be displayed through the Pareto Principle. The Pareto Principle is basically that 80% of your success comes from 20% of your work. Applying that to life in so many ways let me notice how I was wasting my time.
So I applied it to my brain dump, and counted all the list items. I took that full amount and found 20% of that number. For example, if I have 100 items on my list, both Ts and Ps, then 20 of those list items are going to yield 80% of my wanted goals and results and success. It was totally true.
Calculate your 20% and pick the most important tasks or projects first. That’s how many tasks you’re allowed today, or this week, etc. I like to put a star * by these items.
There are wonderful ways to find out which tasks or projects should be prioritized, but that’s something we’ll save for a different blog post about categorizing your lists.
Using All This Stuff.
You can now take your full brain dump list, marked with your Tasks and projects, seeing the priority ones, and then prepare your to do list.
I like to have a list of tasks, and then a list of projects that has accompanying project profile for each one. That task list becomes your daily or weekly to do list. Bam. See how easy it is. Fully prioritized, fully categorized to bring you the most success for your precious time.
When you have your projects planned out, you’ll develop a list of tasks for the project, and these tasks can be sprinkled on to your to-do list, following your deadlines. Now you’ll never miss time to work on your precious ideas.
You can take this a step further, by noticing which tasks or projects might repeat. Then you can just automate the scheduling, blocking out time weekly, monthly, even yearly.
You can go even farther by putting average time on certain types of tasks, which lets you auto schedule by category.
The brain dump list is the most important tool in my arsenal as a business owner, as a product manufacturer, as a mother, as a wife, as a responsible person in the community who’s always eager to lend a hand, and now, doesn’t overbook herself.
Don’t be intimidated if it seems overwhelming to start. It really only takes me a total of 10 minutes to do a complete brain dump, and sort it, and categorize it for months at a time. I can automatically schedule my blocks of time to accomplish each task, and as long as it gets written down, it doesn’t get missed. But that’s why it should be a time to be savored. A special ritual daily, weekly, or monthly. Maybe even yearly. This is how you’re going to keep up in a world that moves faster than you do.
Try it, you won’t be disappointed. It’s life changing!