What are the chances that you have gone through your week and felt extreme overwhelm from the enormous amount of items, tasks, and to do’s that you are keeping in your head and you don’t even know where to begin. Are you raising your hand right now? Are the chances 100% likely? Do you struggle with how to keep you and your family, your work and laundry on track, too?
In today’s episode I am going to teach you how to do a brain dump to reduce stress, anxiety, and mental overload in order to become super productive each week. I am literally giving you the step by step instructions on how to put this simple, yet magical system in place, today! Believe it or not you can absolutely use a brain dump to get more things done each and every week!
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO A BRAIN DUMP?
Brain Dump Essential #1 – You’re gonna need a notebook of some sort.
I don’t recommend using a note pad or loose leaf paper because those random lists, just a sheet of paper, they get lost. You can’t find them. So I really would encourage you not to go that route. You could use a notebook from Target, go find a cute one and then every time you look at it makes you super happy. If you’re inspired by design like I am, or that other really frugal part of me that loves a good deal also goes to the dollar store and gets really cute notepads. You could pick one up there and when you look at that one, it’ll make you happy cause you only paid ninety nine cents for it. Right.
Brain Dump Essential #2 – You need a pencil or a pen.
Now, for the over-achievers out there you are gonna want to bring highlighters to the table, but you totally don’t need them. Additionally, you could use the notes in your phone or some type of app. I’m going to leave that up to you on whether or not you feel like that is a good option for you. It’s not a good option for me because I’m not consistent enough with it, and I do much better when I have a tangible object like paper and a pen in my hand than using my phone. Also, I’m trying to create a culture of technology last in my home. So I would prefer to have pen and paper.
HOW DO I DO A BRAIN DUMP?
There are four really straightforward steps to doing this. I’m not joking. It’s super straightforward. But there is a bonus tip at the end of these four steps that I think are going to make this extremely impactful for you. So make sure you don’t miss that step.
The First Step To Successfully Complete A Brain Dump
The first thing that you’re gonna do as you are going to grab that notebook and your pen or pencil and the highlighters if you chose to use them. I’m currently putting my brain dumps into an organizer, so my organizer has my time blocking and it has just a notebook in there for notes. It has a grid notebook in there. So I am doing my brain dump in there.
In my favorite paper planner, the Horacio Dream Planner, there is space within each week to have your brain dump there. This is great because it lines up directly next to your time blocks for the week and leads to even greater success. My paper planner from Horacio Printing has completely changed my game as a work from home mom. Use code Chelsi20 to save at checkout! Okay, so that’s step one – get your things and get ready to do this!
The Second Step To Successfully Complete A Brain Dump
The second thing that to do in order to complete a successful brain dump is to take everything that’s in your brain that you need to get done and jotted down as quickly as you possibly can. Don’t think about it. Just write them down. Line one, line to line three. These should be to do items, not big goals or big projects. We’re not goal planning here.
Instead, specific things that need to get done this week. For example, I have to do one million loads of laundry. Or, I have to reschedule my mastermind. Things like I need to pay for and pick up my oils, clean out my car, take bikes in for servicing. I needs to send an email out, to put away diapers, and to clean vanities. OK, that’s step number two. You put down everything that you can possibly think of that you need to get done.
The Third Step To Successfully Complete A Brain Dump
Step three is where all of the finite details that we typically overlook come into play. For step number three get out your calendar. And the bonus tip that I’m going to talk about after step four is related to this part. But before you time block your week, I want you to sit down and do your mind dump. So I want you to check every single day.
If you’re using a paper calendar or if you’re using an electronic calendar like Google calendar, I want you to look at every single day. Click on Monday. Look at what’s going on that day. Click on Tuesday. What’s going on that day? Do the kids have a field trip? Is there a special work project? Or an event that requires something special to happen that you need to get done that’s outside of the ordinary going on this week?
Utilize Your Calendar
As you look at those things, your brain will be triggered. Oh, that’s right. I forgot. I need to pack an extra special lunch that day for the kiddos. Oh, that’s right. I need to go pick up or drop off my clothes to the dry cleaner because I have a presentation on Friday, whatever that needs to look like for you. On those specific days, write down those extra to-dos. By doing this, it allows you to go into your week prepared and focused. That way no matter what extra things you may have on your schedule for that week, you are prepared with a plan to be able to get it all done.
The Fourth Step To Successfully Complete A Brain Dump
Step number four is what I like to call the 1 2 3 system, and it is the real ticket to success of this entire mind dumping process. So as of now, you should have a pretty robust list that is just one line after another, after another, after another after another. And they should not be in any type of chronological order at all. It’s just literally whatever is in your brain, put them down on a paper.
Now, I’ve seen tons of people make the mistake over and over and over again of writing a list and then overlooking what I like to call the 1, 2, 3 system. And they fail every single time their list doesn’t get done because they don’t know how to utilize the list. So this is what I love to tell people to do.
The 1, 2, 3 System
The one, the two and the three are a higher hierarchy of needs. So number one is something that absolutely cannot wait. If it does wait, there will be consequences. Like something that has a deadline or an event that’s taking place that you can’t postpone. 2s are things that might make you feel like there’s a sense of urgency or you have a very strong desire to see them completed. But if they’re not completed, there’s not going to be any direct consequences to relationships or your finances.
Number three is basically a want. These are tasks that you would be thrilled to see completed. It would be a feather in your cap. I guess you could say, but it could probably way and there will be zero consequences if these items are not completed. I’ll give you some examples of what this looks like in just a minute.
So to recap, ones are something that cannot wait. Twos are urgent, but they don’t have any direct consequences if they’re not completed. And threes are pretty much just a desire or a want something that would make you happy if it was completed.
Categorize Your List
When you look at your list, you are going to see your ones jump out at you immediately. And I want you to put a one next to it. That’s a one. It has to be done this week. That’s a one has to be done this week. Then if you see something for me. I go, my mind works. The ones jump out at me and then the threes jump out at me, my twos are always in the gray area and that’s why they’re twos. They’re kind of in the middle. They could go either way.
Then I do my threes. I marked down. Yeah, that probably could wait until next week. And then I go back and I put my tools in and sometimes I have to rethink it and I’m not quite sure. And it takes. I don’t know. A few minutes and then you have a group of ones, a group of twos and a group of threes.
Use Your Highlighters
For those of you that like to use highlighters and are super visual, you can make all your ones highlighted in pink. You can make all your twos highlighted in yellow and all your threes highlighted in green or whatever colors you might be using. So for my list that I created for myself this week, when I did my brain dump, I put a one next to my one thousand loads of laundry. My number threes are put away diapers and take bikes in first service and then reschedule my mastermind. My twos are clean out my car, clean vanities and send an email.
The To-dos That Aren’t Actually To-dos
If there’s anything on your list that doesn’t fall into the 1, 2, 3 system, maybe it’s not a to do. Maybe it’s more like a really lofty goal or maybe it isn’t something that’s even related, but you just put it down, just market out. It doesn’t even need to be on this list because this is a list that is going to help you make headway on the things that have to be done. Like those little things that we overlook. So anything that doesn’t fit into a one or two or three, just mark it off. OK, so that was step 4.
Those are the four steps on how to do a brain dump. But I bet you’re thinking. Okay, so now what do I do with this 1, 2, 3 system? Like, OK, I have ones next to these things and then twos and threes. But what does that mean?
BONUS TIP – Maximize PRODUCTIVITY with your brain dump!
Now you actually get to learn how you take this brain dump and help it make you extra productive every single week. Whenever you have time to do something on your to do list, you are immediately going to focus on your ones. You’re not going to look at your twos and you’re not going to look at your threes. I don’t care what day it is that week. Nor, if it’s the only thing that you need to get done. You’re only looking at your number ones because you’ve already designated that those are the most important things. And if they’re the most important to you, you should focus on them first.
You’re only looking at your number ones because you’ve already designated that those are the most important things. And if they’re the most important to you, you should focus on them first.
It doesn’t matter if the one was at the bottom or at the top, it’s still a one. I know that sometimes I will have things on my to do list, like replace the light bulbs in the kitchen because they’ve been burned out for two months. And somehow between my husband and I, we can manage to not get too that task because it seems so remedial for so long. This has helped us tremendously to say, “okay this is really important to us this week. It’s a one. We’re doing it.”
A Time Block for To-Dos
I utilize this exact same system within running my business in any aspect of my life. This was the system I used when I was in college and it’s super helpful. I would say that the most impactful part of this for me is every single week. I have a time block built in to my week that specifically is labeled “to do.” In that time blocks, sometimes it’s two hours, sometimes it’s one hour one day and one hour another day because I can’t find a solid two hours to give to my to do list.
Ever since I started doing that, that has made such a huge difference. We are blowing through to do lists like never before. This allows me to know exactly what I am going to do when I sit down at my desk for my work block. Additionally, this can be applied to any task or project that needs to be accomplished within a short amount of time.
The System For When You Have Too Much To Do
If you are limited on time and if you have a large amount of things that you are trying to accomplish, then this brain dump is for you! So for me, I’m building an online company and an online brand. I’m podcasting, I’m creating courses, I’m creating worksheets. I have a lot of things that I’m creating and there’s a lot of steps involved.
At the beginning of each week, I set aside time and write out every single thing that needs to be complete. Just for me in my business. And I do the one, two, three system with it. And then whenever I sit down in my work hours, I know that I’m focusing on my ones first, then my twos and then my threes. This is the solution to prevent overwhelm. And it works awesome.
A Brain Dump For Everyone
The real key with that, though, is you have to be implementing time blocking in your life to be able to make that useful. Doing a brain dump, however, does not require you to do time blocking. You can still apply all of this information and utilize it even if you don’t do any time blocking at all. Even if you don’t write out your schedule every week, having this list available to you to just look out throughout the week and know that you’re going to focus on the ones and then the twos and then the threes is still going to dramatically increase how productive you are every single week.
Check Out More on Time Blocking
Looking for more? Check out my completely FREE resource that I have that shows you time blocking and what my weekly priorities are. I also have a blog post on how we use time blocking in our marriage to help it be more successful.
Do you have any questions about time blocking and what it would look like for you and your specific situation in your life? Come join us in the Systemize Your Life Facebook group where are amazing community loves to support one another and our work towards achieving our goals in both business, the home, and in life. Also, you can check out podcast episode 03 for all the details on time-blocking.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I schedule my week in order to accomplish the things on my brain dump list?
Through understanding time blocking and using my 5-block system for creating and scheduling your week, you can be sure to schedule everything in that you need for the week, including scheduling the exact block of times for when your to-dos need to get done!