A week of braindumping

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Foto: Aaron Burden – Unsplash

Written by: Zoe Carmichael

Recently, I  decided to experiment more in my life. I set weekly challenges to see if I can learn something new and find out what works (or doesn’t work) for me. My first challenge is braindumping.

What is braindumping? Braindumping is  a journalling exercise where you try to capture every thought in your head either handwritten or digitally.  I chose this challenge as my first challenge due to the fact that I have been tired and feeling overwhelmed lately. So why not write down everything that is on my brain for a week. Inspired by the book Destination Simple by Brooke McAlary, and her podcast Slow your Home, where she speaks of the ritual braindumping,  I took on a challenge where in the morning and in the evening, I take 5 minutes to empty my brain on paper.

In the Book Getting things Done – David Allen promotes that we write down everything that comes to our mind and trust on what we write down, instead of keeping it inside our head. He advises us to give ourself permission to capture and express any idea, and then later figure out how it fits in and what to do with it. By getting ideas out of our head, our brain  doesn’t have to works overtime. In short, our brain is not meant to hold all the stuff that we  are keeping in it. By holding all these thoughts in our brain, our brain can’t work correctly. It can’t process information and deal with the present.

I noticed that lately new to do’s were popping up in my head, at the weirdest time – in the car, at work, when I am in the shower. I would wake up in the  middle of the night, trying to find a solution to a problem. So would braindumping help?

The first few days of this challenge, I was overwhelmed with the amount of information I had written down. How was all this stuff in my brain? Emptying my mind, was at first a to do list, a long to do list. Every day, new to do’s were written down. How did I leave all this stuff in my head for so long?

In the morning, I would write things down and be sad at how much information was in my brain, how long the to do list became and how much I was forgetting. However, I also got clarity on what really needed to be done, and didn’t forget these important things.

In the evening, I would write down even more. How could this information be in my brain? How much can I store up there? I realized after a week, I slept better. I wasn’t waking up in the middle of the night because I had forgotten something.

In the end, this challenge made me happy and sad at the same time. I realized that I can’t rely fully on my brain. It needs help to function. There is a continuous brain overload, so much information thrown at it all day. I see my brain as a computer and if I don’t write down everything the disk is going to be full and then the computer doesn’t work anymore. In conclusion, I have decided to support my brain by writing down what it is saying daily. It actually has a lot to say. However, just writing things down doesn’t help if you don’t do anything with it. So I have to figure out the next step after braindumping – how to follow up on what you have written down.

The coming week, I will focus on a new challenge in Brooke McAlary’s book. She advises to combine the braindumping ritual with some other rituals. After hearing her podcast, Slow your Home, I decided to chose a week long of gratitude for this comings week challenge.