Brain Dump in a Bullet Journal: Take A Load Off Your Mind

Feeling overwhelmed? That alright, we all do from time to time. If you need something to help you with that, I’ve gone around the web and compiled information on brain dumps for the bullet journal. I’m pretty sure that it’ll be useful.

What is a bullet journal brain dump? The brain dump is a tool that lets you put your thoughts into paper, allowing you to process them and other information better. It’s useful for whenever you are feeling overwhelmed mentally. It also goes well with the benefits of a bullet journal, and the two have often been useful in conjunction.

The bullet journal and the brain dump has many things in common, in how they encourage productivity and mindfulness, but there are also different advantages you might want to know. I also outline how to get you started with brain dumping on a bullet journal, as well as who it might work great for.

Getting To Know The Brain Dump

Starting this post, I already had my own version of the brain dump. I use it on occasion, as long as I need it for something, I bust out a piece of paper and just write.

However, what’s useful for me might not be useful for you. After all, no brain dump is the same. 

So I went around the internet, finding stuff that would be best for someone new to brain dumping.

I found so many versions of it. There was so much information, that I might have needed a brain dump just to get everything out of my head.

So I did. It honestly helped when writing this article, as it does with writing others too.

The first thing that I went to look for was when it started, surprisingly, there wasn’t much on it. The gist of it is, the brain dump has been there for a long time and it was popularized again during the early 2000’s when a number of self-help authors included it in their book, citing the benefits of doing it when needed and how it helped them individually.

Also, on a stranger note, the term brain dumping has been adopted by certain movements concerning the act of actually dumping everything in your brain into a computer. This is not the brain dumping that we’re talking about, just to be clear.

The next thing I learned was that there are so many analogies of overflowing junk in your brain. Things like overflowing dumpsters and too many tabs opened in your brain. And, you know what, they all pretty much sum it up quite perfectly.

The thing that everyone gets almost the same is the simple definition of what a brain dump is. A brain dump is a page or piece of paper where you list everything in your head without restriction. That definition is the simplest and shortest form I could write it with.

It’s basically a piece of paper that you use to unleash all the thoughts, ideas, tasks, and everything else that you’re housing in your brain.

It’s like a release valve where all the pressure and heat in your brain vents out, letting you relax and chill out.

Take all that and combine it with a bullet journal, then you’ve got a mindfulness and self-care machine.

If you’re new to bullet journaling, you should know that a bullet journal is a productivity system that also prioritizes mindfulness. It allows you to not only keep track of what you need to be doing, but also the why you need to be doing it.

The system also allows for extreme flexibility, letting the individual choose what goes inside the notebook, and what does not. It’s analog nature also allows you to disconnect from digital media.

It’s refreshing to say the least.

This has resonated with so many people, that it quickly formed a community.. A bujo community, if you will.

Bujo is a shorthand for bullet journal.

Check out this video for another take on the bullet journal brain dump.

The Benefits Of Brain Dumping

Aside from the relief it grants you from the pressure of unloading your mind — take that sentence as you will— brain dumping has other benefits as well. Some of these are:

  • Improving focus
  • A great mindfulness practice
  • Better memory
  • Great for planning

Improving Focus

While writing down everything that pops up in your brain might sound counterintuitive to focus, it helps alot.

The act itself of remembering and jotting down each idea on paper helps you single out tasks that require more attention and energy.

While it may be a jumble at first, once it’s all down there you can review them all and arrange them by priority.  This lets you single out and home in to what you really need to focus on, and is part of why this practice is so useful for so many people.

A Great Mindfulness Practice

This is primarily what this practice is built on. This let’s you de-stress and reduce anxiety by clearing your mind of all the clutter inside it.

I’m pretty sure, during one time or another, you’ve felt when everything is just too much and everything seems to be battering you. That’s the perfect time to do a brain dump, let it all out.

The problem with keeping all those emotions and thoughts inside is that it’s a jumble inside of your head. Things just keep popping up and you can’t make sense of it during the time that it’s in your head.

This contributes to anxiety, which in turn leads to stress, and so on. What’s worse, is that this whole thing is a cycle. It will repeat itself eventually, and when that time comes you had better be prepared.

Go on! The next time that happens, don’t be afraid to sit down and dump it all out.. On paper… Remember, dump it all out on the paper.

Better Memory

This all plays into the free flowing nature of the brain and writing it down. Studies have shown that writing things down increases the chances of you remembering that certain item.

The same goes here, what’s more is that you can expound that idea once you have it down on paper.

This also ties in with mind mapping, which you might want to read up on too.

Great For Planning

Now that you have it all on paper, it’s easier for you to form connections and and explore more of the details to a given item.

It also gives you a better perspective on the subject, allowing you to view it and attack it differently. If you’re brainstorming, you might want to incorporate this method into your process, as well.

How To Make A Brain Dump And Incorporate It To Your Bullet Journal

Now that you know more of the background for the brain dump, it’s purpose and benefits, it’s time to get down to the actual application.

As I mentioned, there is no set method for a brain dump. Each is different and is tweaked to each individual’s need.

The best place to start, however, is the basics, which I will enumerate here.

  1. Clear up some time.
  2. Grab a clean piece of paper and a pen.
  3. Start writing everything and anything in your mind.
  4. Keep writing until there’s nothing left to write.
  5. Gestate what you’ve written.
  6. Organize what you’ve written.

Brain dumping takes time — how long? Well, how much do you have going on in your head? That’s how long. For it to be effective, you have to give the time it deserves, the time your brain deserves.

Do it on a clean sheet of paper and a good pen. This isn’t any old list, this meant to clear and organize your mind. You won’t be able to do it on any crumpled piece of scratch paper with a faulty pen that keeps going out every so often.

It’s important to encourage a free flowing environment so your brain doesn’t get distracted with any external stimuli, the point of this exercise is to get everything in your head, uninterrupted, unrestricted, and uncensored, on paper.

How do you expect to organize your thoughts when your tools and environment aren’t organized as well.

So once you have all that in check, just let everything in your head flow, and let it keep flowing until there’s nothing left. You can put in anything you want, you can put in a song you liked and got stuck in your head, all the chores you keep putting off, thoughts, ideas, emotions, everything. Leave it all on the paper.

Once you do, gestate it. Take a breather. Let everything you wrote down gestate, and let sink in.

You might want to walk around, I don’t know… ruminate or something. Once you’re done, sit yourself back down.

You’ve got your big pile of brain dump to sort out, quite literally.

Now that you have everything off your head and on to your piece of paper, take the time to look through them and ask yourself with total honesty, which are worth my time and energy?

Those who don’t make the cut, cross them out and stop giving them the time and energy they don’t deserve. It’s that easy.

Next, for those that did make the cut, start categorizing them and putting them in your planner or bullet journal or what have you.

Congratulations! You have now relieved yourself of the pressures from your mind.

Incorporating It To Your Bullet Journal

Now that you know how to make a brain dump, here’s how to incorporate it into your bullet journal.

  1. Take a spread, a 1 or 2 page spread depending on your preferences or amount of dumping.
  2. Number the page, and label it. You can label it with the time or date, or probably anything you want.
  3. Index it, right away. You don’t want to forget where you placed it afterwards.
  4. Refer to the steps above to execute the actual brain dump.
  5. Categorize through the collections in your bullet journal.

As you can see, while mostly similar, incorporating it is more of creating a new collection for your notebook. It’s important to index it right away, so you don’t forget it. I mean, right away. Make it a habit.

The most glaring difference when doing it in your bullet journal is that you can automatically log it into the corresponding log or tracker once you are done.

The bullet journal makes it easier to keep track and log the information you put down in your brain dump.

Also, you might want to try mind mapping after this exercise. If you want to learn more of how to mind map, check this article out.

Here’s a useful video on another way to do it:

Tips On Brain Dumping

Going around the bujo community, you’ll find a lot of useful tips. Here are some that might be useful for you:

  • Have fun with it
  • Give it time
  • Experiment
  • The best time to do one

Have Fun With It

I know that your brain is reaching its maximum capacity, hence the brain dumping, but you might want to remember to have fun with it.

Put in some fun doodles during the process, label it with a funny name, word some of the less important things in funny ways.

The process is about you letting loose, and when your brain is under pressure, you might undermine the whole process.

Here’s a thread on reddit you might want to read, it’s about renaming your brain dump something else. I personally don’t do it, but it is apparently quite common.

Give It Time

This tip is twofold. What I mean is give yourself the time to execute it properly, and give yourself time to get better at it.

As with everything else, practice makes perfect. You’ll find that you may have a hard time putting down stuff, and you might second guess what you’ll write. That’s okay, just keep at it and don’t dismiss it right away.

This is you doing something for yourself, so even if you write down something silly nobody will see it but you.

Next, give it time. Don’t rush yourself. Putting pressure in your brain will just overload it more.

Experiment

Remember when I said that no brain dump is the same? Well, that’s because once you start doing it you’ll find better ways it can be more effective for you.

You can do a brain dump by category, by time, by subject, it’s all up to you.

If you want to try writing it differently, or with a different process, go ahead.

Do what works.

The Best Time to Do One

The best time to do one is also up to you.

Some in the bujo community do it daily, some weekly, some monthly, and like me, some do it just when they have to.

That could mean that you’ll do it fairly regularly, or maybe once or twice in 6 months, depending on the load in your brain.

Sometimes you might feel like having mental diarrhea.. I’m sorry. I couldn’t help myself. I just had to let it out.

Going back, the right time is always up to you.

Conclusion

The brain dump is quite useful for a lot of stuff.

Is it for you?

It could be. When it comes down to it, it’s up to you to make it work. It’s up to you to give it time, and let the process flourish.

You might also want to consider doing a mind map after this. Here’s the link.

Here are some examples of brain dumps I found around the web. I hope it can give you some ideas.

scribblerplanet

Jm here! I run the Scribbler Planet website. If you're new to bullet journals and journaling, I think I can help you out. I've always had problems with keeping on track with what I'm doing, so when I heard bullet journaling could help I tried my hand at it. Here we are about a year later and I'm glad to say it significantly helped. Here's hoping I can help you do the same!

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