The Brain Dump

What is on your mind? Why is it there? How many times have you circled around that thought today? Why is that thought still there? What do you intend to do with it? Do you even know? Do you need to be thinking about something else instead? Oh no. What were you thinking about again? Did you already forget? If it's important enough, it will come back to you, right? I mean it will, right? But what if it doesn't come back in time? What if that thought had a due date? Oh no. What was it? Oh wait. Hold that thought. My phones dinging. I have to see what that is. Ok. It wasn't important. Now, where were we?

This was me. This was before the I learned of the "Brain Dump" and before being introduced to the idea of "Thought Capture". And now, there is no going back.

Think of your mind as a desk. At what kind of desk do you do your best work? Let us take a moment to prep a mental picture. I know it's crowded in that head of yours, but let's clear out a corner for this little mental exercise. Ok. Back to the desk. I want you to picture a desk with stacks of papers representing responsibilities, in no particular order, post-it notes in a crooked checkered pattern that represent reminders (some overdue and no longer meaningful), an open planner full of meetings and appointments (many of which appear to be double-booked) and finally a notebook filled with chicken scratch that would take a team of experts to decipher. Now let's picture this: an empty desk, a pen, a small notebook and an empty basket.

Now which is the desk you want to work from? If you picked desk #1, just shut up. You picked desk #2. Let's proceed.

The Brain Dump is a productivity exercise that will allow you to free your mind of all things that poke at it throughout the day. We are going to be exporting those thoughts to pen and paper. Stop. This is the part where I tell you it's 2016. Pen and paper is an ancient relic. So here's what you do. Find a quiet room, grab your smartphone, mute it and turn on Airplane mode. What you need to do next is open the Notes app and reserve for yourself 10-15 minutes of silence. It's crazy how the World just stops when you turn the phone off. Am I right?

What's on your mind? Don't tell me. Just type it into your notepad. Don't even worry about complete sentences. Don't concern yourself with bad grammar. Punctuation? Who needs it!? What you need to be concerned with is the transferring of your thoughts to paper as quickly as you can.


  • What do you need to do?
  • What bills do you need to pay?
  • Who do you need to call?
  • What do you need to buy?
  • Where do you need to go?
  • Who do you need to see?
  • What are your ideas?
  • What are your goals?
  • What books do you want to read?
  • What movies do you want to see?
  • What is going on in that head of yours?

Repeat this exercise multiple times a day or quickly capture the information as it comes to you if you are able. To perfect the process, you must practice the process. The Brain Dump needs to become a ritual and it must have a place and time in your day for it to work as advertised.

You've done it. Your mind is free and clear and is ready for new things. Gone are the days of stale information, forgotten commitments, and expired ideas. What comes next? Well, we will save that for another post. I wouldn't want to fill that empty brain of yours.