Get Organized Brain Dumping Method

Appears in the Adulting Planner on:

This technique is useful when you have a lot of thoughts rolling through your mind. It is the act of writing down everything that comes to your mind. This is a way to get your thoughts out of your brain, onto paper, and free up space in your mind. This is done without self-criticism, self-editing, or trying to cut anything short. All thoughts and ideas are welcome during brain dumping.

How to do a brain dump

  1. Find a blank space to write - it can be scratch paper, somewhere in your planner, or a note on your phone.
  2. Write down everything that comes to mind. It doesn't have to be orderly, just get it out of your head and onto paper.
  3. Once you've run out of things to write down, organize what is written.
  4. Highlight, circle or make a list from actionable items that are also relevant to this moment and what you should be focused on.
  5. Tuck the rest of the items away for safe keeping to be organized or acted upon later.


When to do a brain dump

You might be surprised at how helpful this method is, and the times when it can be useful. We've listed some common times when brain dumping is useful as well as some notes on how to make the most of it in each instance.

Anxiety/Feeling stuck:

It can help you manage anxiety - those frenetic thoughts that leave you feeling scattered and disorganized are more easily sorted, prioritized and organized once they are not bouncing around in your mind.

More information on anxiety and brain dumping from PsychCentral.

“To-Don’t” list to stay focused:

When you are distracted by a lot of different tasks, but have just one thing that needs to be focused on and addressed now, a “to-don’t” list is a great way not to give into the impulse. It will remind you of what you need to do, what can be done later, and filter out the extra. Keep the list nearby, and add to it whenever a stray thought comes in while focusing on the task at hand. If you review your list later, you may begin to understand your distractions and how to avoid them.

Big projects/Big ideas:

Do you have too many thoughts that are all connected, but not sure what to develop or how to organize them? This is an ideal method for brainstorming by yourself. Write, scribble, type – get those words and ideas out. Seeing it outside of your thoughts, really getting to look at it, will help you create structure, cross out things that don’t matter and bring clarity to your project.

For tests/exams:

Write down the memorized information onto a sheet of paper right as the exam begins, then use that sheet for reference during the test.

Sleep better:

All the things that linger in your mind as you try to go to sleep can be dealt with using the Brain Dump method. Write it onto a piece of paper and let it go (at least for the night). Grab a pen and a piece of paper and scribble down everything that has the potential to keep you up at night. Getting it out of your mind and onto paper can give you valuable peace and rest.

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