How to do an Effective Brain Dump in Your BuJo

by - March 12, 2022

 Do you ever have one of those days where you feel like you are literally in a hamster wheel, and nothing ever seems to get done because your to-do list keeps getting longer? Whether it's just a to-do list in your head or a to-do list written on paper, it can be really overwhelming! Today, I'm going to show you how you can do a simple and effective brain dump in your bullet journal to clear your mind and increase your productivity!

How to do an Effective Brain Dump in Your BuJo


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Updated for 2024

If you are stressed and overwhelmed, then doing a brain dump in your bullet journal might be the perfect thing for you! I did a brain dump yesterday, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much clarity you can get from doing a brain dump.

Brain dumps are SUPER SIMPLE too! You really can't go wrong when doing a brain dump. In fact, this article might be a little shorter than my usual articles because the entire process is so easy. I'm sure you will have it down in no time, and you'll be doing brain dumps like a pro.

Today, I'll show you how to do a brain dump in your bullet journal, but if you aren't a fan of bullet journaling, you can do a brain dump on any piece of paper.

But first of all, what exactly is a brain dump?


What is a Brain Dump?

Not surprisingly, a brain dump is exactly what it sounds like: a brain dump. You take everything in your brain, and everything that is worrying you, bothering you, stressing you... take all of that and throw it out on paper.

Then, you don't have to worry about forgetting anything because it is all down on paper. You can organize all of that information that used to be in your brain, and then you can plan your next steps.

A brain dump is perfect for when...

  • You are stressed.
  • You have little to no motivation.
  • You feel overwhelmed.
  • You don't know what your next steps are.
  • You feel like you have too much on your plate.
  • You are feeling uncreative.

Those are just a few of the reasons for doing a brain dump. If any of the above applies to you on a regular basis, you might want to consider doing brain dumps on a regular schedule, like once every month.

How to do an Effective Brain Dump in Your BuJo


How to do an Effective Brain Dump in Your Bullet Journal

1. Grab Your Supplies + Find Somewhere Comfy to Sit

You need barely any supplies to do a brain dump, which is a huge plus if you want a quick way to figure out what's going on in your life!

All you need to do a brain dump is a piece of paper (I use my bullet journal), and a writing instrument. Everything else is unnecessary. But of course, it may help you think better if you doodle or decorate the page while you think.

Another option is to use sticky notes so you can actually physically rearrange your ideas afterward.

If it helps you to think, you might also choose to have some soft calming music in the background. Only have music playing though, if it isn't going to be a distraction for you.

Then find somewhere comfy to sit. If your environment is a distraction, you probably won't be able to get everything out of your head that is bothering you because your distracting environment will come first. I would also recommend turning off your technology.

How to do an Effective Brain Dump in Your BuJo

2. Write Down What Comes to Your Mind

This is the real meat of doing a brain dump. I prefer making a list (like a bulleted list without the bullets for a reason you will find out later in this post), but you should figure out what works best for you.

Start writing down whatever comes to your mind. It might take around five minutes to really get going. You can set a timer for around fifteen minutes to start, and then take longer if you need to.

Here are some questions to help you get started.

  • What do I fall asleep thinking about?
  • What did I think about first when I woke up this morning?
  • What am I worried about?
  • What has been on my to-do list for a long time without getting done?
  • What am I stressed about?
  • What specific tasks am I overwhelmed by? How can I break up these tasks smaller?

If you are still having trouble doing a brain dump, you can go through each area of your life separately. I know what it is like when you sit down in front of a blank sheet of paper haha! All of a sudden, your mind can go blank!

Here are a few main areas of your life you might want to think about...

  • Fitness/Health
  • Finances
  • Career/Business
  • Religion/Faith
  • Goals
  • Free Time/Daily Life
  • Family Life/Relationships
  • Environment
  • Education
  • Personal Development
  • Mental Health

Keep going until you have written down everything you can think of. If you notice some things all relate to one thing, you may want to add columns to your page or draw lines between related ideas.

3. Repeat the Above Process a Few Times

I recommend repeating the above process over a couple of days, or at least a couple of times because you probably aren't going to think of everything in just one 15 minute brain dump session. You can have a ton on your mind without realizing it!

It might also be helpful to write down things during the day right as you think of them, so you may want to carry around your brain dump page and a writing instrument with you.

How to do an Effective Brain Dump in Your BuJo


4. Organize Your Brain Dump

After you think you have a pretty good list it is time to start organizing it! If you think of more things to add to your list, you can, of course, add them later.

You can organize your list however you want, but I'm going to tell you how I have organized my brain dump for this bullet journal layout just to help you out in case you have no idea where to start. Just a heads up, most of the ideas on my list ended up being tasks I want to complete or ideas for improvement/personal development.

Your list may look totally different and that is fine!

First, I picked out a color for each section of my life. I ended up using three different markers: pink for business, blue for school, and purple for organization/personal development ideas. A few things on my list didn't fit into those categories, so I just left them blank.

Above, I mentioned that I made a list, but without the bullets. Now, I went through my list and colored in the square (that would have had the bullet point) with the color that corresponded to the idea. (If the task related to school, I colored it blue, etc.)

If you write anything down more than once by accident, take note because it is probably bothering you, or it is important, and you don't want to forget about it.

Then, I went through my brain dump list and added symbols for bullet points. Below is the key I used.

  • Hollow Bullet Point - A fairly straightforward task that can be done in one sitting.
  • Square Bullet Point - A task that will take more than sitting to complete/needs to be broken up.
  • Question Mark - I'm not sure if I want to do this or not.
  • An Arrow - A task that will need more planning/needs to be researched.

Again, this is just for reference. You might do your brain dump entirely differently!

5. Figure Out Your Next Steps

After you have filled out your brain dump layout, where are you going from there? If you feel like you have a better grasp of your life now, you might not need to do anything further.

On the other hand, if you still feel stressed, overwhelmed, etc now would be the time to dive deeper into the ideas listed on your brain dump. You might group all of the tasks that can be done in one sitting onto a "Master To-Do" list.

The tasks that take more than one sitting to complete can be broken up on separate bullet journal layouts depending on how complicated each task is. The same goes for tasks with arrows.

You have now completed a brain dump in your bullet journal!

How to do an Effective Brain Dump in Your BuJo


How to do an Effective Brain Dump in Your Bullet Journal

Those are the main steps for completing a successful brain dump. The next time you are stressed or overwhelmed, try spilling out and organizing your thoughts on paper! I hope that this post helped you successfully complete a brain dump in your bullet journal.

If you liked this post, make sure you check out these ones too!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post. :)
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How to do an Effective Brain Dump in Your BuJo

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