It's called a Brain Dump, and It Works Every Time!


I always do a brain dump when I am feeling overwhelmed with a project, or there are too many ideas or commitments in my head. The reality is that it doesn't take as long as I tell myself it will take, and in fact, it saves time and lots of unnecessary anxiety. I was working with a client yesterday. She is a VP of Sales and Marketing for a prestigious television station. She was feeling overwhelmed. She was getting ready to go on vacation and had much to tie up and plan before she left; both personally and professionally.

We talked strategy and specifics, and I still sensed that she was not getting the relief she needed. I asked her how she was feeling at that point in the conversation. She said "still very overwhelmed and anxious. Can't see or imagine how I am going to get everything done."

Bingo! Brain dump time! Works every time.

I had her get out a piece of paper and pen, and write down everything that was spinning around in her head. In no particular order. Just pen to paper. (Yes. The old fashioned simple things still work great.)

Here is what happened: She got immediate relief and actually said "This isn't as bad as I thought."

She suddenly felt in control as the moving pieces stopped moving in her head. She had had so much going on in there and was working hard to keep track of it all. She even planned to write it down but didn't have time! Thought it would take too long. By writing it down and looking at it, her mind could no longer make it worse than it was (reality) .

Here are a few steps to take when you feel overwhelmed and stopped or have no idea where to start:

  1. Grab a piece of paper and pen. Or could even be "Evernote" or whatever electronic device you use. I personally like the pen to paper approach. Why? Because it is a fact that when we write, we are more engaged with the material.
  2. Start writing everything buzzing around in there... in no particular order! Get it all in one place.
  3. Then, organize the list a bit. Look at MUST-DO's, etc.
  4. Review the list. Does it really all need to be done? Are there things you can skip for now?
  5. Get out your calendar and make decisions about when you will do what.

Try it sometime. It really works. You might be pleasantly surprised by the result.

Have a productive, brain dump-kinda day!

Coach Nancy