Brain Dump Exercise – Declutter Your Mind!

Brain Dump Exercise – Declutter Your Mind!

This post may contain affiliate links.

Today I will be discussing what a brain dump exercise is and the benefits of this practice. I don’t know about you, but I used to often have so many thoughts running through my head at once, it would be overwhelming. I would end up in a panicked mess, because I was going over in my head what I needed get done; and at same time getting myself in more of muddle in the process. Where do I start and how do I fit it all in!

You may notice this more when you are trying to sleep or even when you are trying to concentrate on something. How many times have you had someone talk to you and then you realise you have no idea what they just said to you? Do you ever journal about your daily life? If so, good for you! Getting everything out of your head is a great self-care activity.

If you don’t journal, hey, that’s ok too! Journaling is a great way to improve mental health. So, with that in mind, have you ever heard of a brain dump? If not, you’re about to find out how to do one for mental health. Let’s talk you through the brain dump process.

 Brain Dump Exercise – Declutter Your Mind!


What is a brain dump?

A brain dump is a simple process of taking all of the thoughts running around in your head and recording them in one place. You can use a brain dump for multiple purposes including studying for tests, learning a new skill or arrange your to-do list. The main objective is to organise your knowledge in one single spot for future reference.


The most common way I use a brain dump is to plan my week and create to-do lists. Writing down the tasks that constantly fill my thoughts has been an effective way to make sure I don’t forget anything important. Also, just the act of writing down my thoughts makes them less overwhelming and easier to manage. When I write down my to-do list, all of a sudden it clears up space in my brain and immediately reduces stress. With my entire to-do list is on a single piece of paper, it begins to feel more manageable.

Top tip:

Need a journal? How about this amazing one below…

Signs you need to brain dump

There are many scenarios that call for “dumping” your thoughts on paper. Here are just a few questions to ask yourself…

  • Are you going through a stressful period?
  • Did you recently experience a major life change, like a move or new job?
  • Is there something going on in your personal life at the moment?
  • Does the thought of checking off your to do list overwhelm you?
  • Do you feel anxious, stressed or tired?
  • At the moment, are you having trouble making a decision?
  • Are you unsure of what you really want?
  • Has organisation been an issue in some way lately?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, a brain dump worksheet may help you gain clarity.

Why does a brain dump work?

Brain dumping can accomplish two important things – first, getting your ideas onto paper simply helps calm your brain. Get your ideas out of your head and they will stop keeping you up all night. Second, putting your ideas down in words will help you evaluate them and determine whether they’re good enough to continue to explore, or if they should be filed away for later consideration.

When to do a brain dump?

The list may look a little bit different for everyone. But here are some major moments that I know I need a brain dump…

  • When you can’t focus on what you are working on;
  • When you are working long hours but not getting much done;
  • When you are about to start a new project;
  • When you are moving or traveling to somewhere else;
  • When you experience major changes in life, like a new relationship or a new job;
  • When you lose something or someone important;

These are all critical moments where you may have a lot of new tasks to tackle and decisions to make. Brain dump will help to calm your nerves down and to get you in a problem-solving mode.

How to do a brain dump

The trick to a successful brain dump is to not think too much about what you’re doing.  Don’t try to write in your neatest handwriting, or stop and think about what makes the most sense. Think of it as if you were playing that first word that pops into your head game and just run through everything as fast as you can.


Your original list won’t be organised, or neat, or pretty.  It will most likely be chicken scratch, and a little bit of gibberish, but that’s ok. We’ll come back to that, later.  The important thing right now is to empty your brain, as quickly as you can so you can stop feeling overwhelmed and actually get something done. If you really stop to think, it’s more likely that you’ll forget something and start stressing out again.

Organise your thoughts

Once you done the brain dump, it’s time to get organised. After you’ve taken a break, sit down with your writing for a moment. Start a new page in your journal (or other outlet) and divide your writing into various categories. This can be done by sectionalising everything based on different aspects of your life.

Categories will vary depending on the general subject matters of your brain dump. However, here are a few ideas…

  • Work
  • Personal Life
  • To-Do List
  • Stressors
  • Health & Wellness
  • Appointments
  • Home
  • Bills
  • Hobbies
  • Reminders

Take a look at your list and analyse the categories. This is where highlighters come in handy. Which thought is the most urgent? Pick two or more pressing items on your to-do list and start with those first.

Also, don’t worry about categorising every thought into a neat list. You can add a separate section for random thoughts. Delete anything that seem unnecessary. Continue to address each item on the list, but work at your own pace. These things take time!

Prioritise your thoughts

Now that you have created a couple of different categories, rearrange the items within each list so that you are able to prioritise what needs to be looked after…

  • High priority – needs most attention
  • Medium priority – can wait, doesn’t need to be done today
  • Low priority – low priority, can wait a while

Now you’re ready to start taking action with the information that you produced from your brain dump.


You can do as many brain dumps as you want. Work mini brain dump sessions into your daily routine (for example, maybe each night after you tuck your kids in), or just do brain dumps once a week when you feel your thoughts starting to pile up.

Brain Dump Exercise – Final thoughts

In the end, there is no right or wrong method when it comes to brain dumping. You already have everything you need, time, your thoughts, and pen and paper. There are no rules, as well as there are no limits in writing, we can start dumping our thoughts by asking ourselves simple questions or making to-do lists for tomorrow.

Do you practice brain dumping? If you have any tips and tricks that you’d like to share with everyone, I would like to know. If you have any questions please reach out to me via I would love to hear from you!

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