First we figured out an app to use for our to do lists (your paper brain, as it were), then we figured out what our priorities are. Don’t forget, if you’d like to join in on the discussion, join our Facebook Group.
Now we begin the hard work of emptying our brains onto paper. This step has been one of the biggest breakthroughs of my life.
The theory is that your brain has a set capacity, more or less, and can perform only two functions- storage or growth (thinking, learning, creativity). The more things you’re storing in your brain, the less growth that occurs, the less thinking you can do, the less creative you are and the more disorganized you become because you’re using all of your RAM for remembering the things you’re storing and constantly recalling them instead of learning and adapting new information. More or less.
In my own life, I find this to be true. When I began brain dumping regularly and got ever-y-thing out on paper, I had two immediate effects. First, I felt far less chaotic, and second, I fell asleep quickly, instead of laying there, going over tomorrow’s to do lists and what I needed to pick up at the store. I knew it was on my paper brain and I didn’t have to keep reminding myself in the background. I could rest. It was like my subconscious didn’t have to constantly throw things up to my conscious mind from the big sea of storage soup that was over-running everything.
After doing this method with myself a few close friends, we all noticed a pattern. The more you’re storing, the less patience you have with yourself, with others and with life in general. The more storage I was using, the less rested I felt because I would wake up feeling like my brain ran on high every night while I was asleep. The more room for growth you have, the happier you are, the more in control of your own brain that you feel and the more patience you have. While this pattern might not hold true for everyone, it was interesting to observe it in myself a few friends. The extra dose of patience might solely have come from the ability to go to sleep immediately instead of laying there a while, but I wasn’t the only one who noticed it.
That alone was worth the price of admission. I felt more at peace and more in control. Was I really? No, nothing in my physical life had changed. Still the same people and circumstances. But I had freed up enough mental space from using storage and having things constantly pop to mind in a bid to not forget it, that I had a greater capacity to think, to learn and to be creative. My ability to absorb more information and learn new things quickly skyrocketed plus I was getting more sleep. I no longer felt like my brain was at capacity and I was just dull and unable to learn more. A win-win, right?
Try it, you might like it.
Pull out your app, your notebook, whatever you chose in challenge one to use to be your ‘paper brain.’ Find some quiet time in a quiet place, with no kids or husbands in the room- once you begin this exercise, it will start pouring out and you will become highly irritated at being interrupted. Begin inputting anything and everything that comes to mind with no filters and no attempt to organize the contents- just type or just write. Every important date, every to do item, everything you need from the store. Anything that wakes you up at night or keeps you from sleeping. All of your goals, dreams, plans, solutions and brainstorms. Everything you need to do in that home remodel you’ve been dreaming of (or putting off). That item you can only get when you go two towns over next week. That RSVP you’ve been meaning to get to, or the present for Timmy’s friend’s birthday party next week that you need to pick up. The location of that recipe you’ve been wanting to try. That phone call you need to make to your mom or mother-in-law that you’ve been putting off. Dump everything you’re storing in your brain onto that piece of paper or that app.
If you’re like me, you will actually have to take several hours of quiet time to do this, over multiple days and in multiple sessions and you’ll use a LOT of paper. I dumped more and more and more and more out into that notebook, as one thought would remind me of something else I needed to do. I put down every birthday, anniversary, child’s request for the next birthday party, and school event. What I needed to buy to paint the living room, all of the little niggly home repairs that needed to be done, the family addresses I needed. The business projects I was dreaming up, a list of people I needed to contact, half-completed projects that were on the back burner, reminders for anything and everything that needed to be completed and even my ideas for easier menu planning. I poured my brain out onto that paper. Every bill that needed to be paid, every bit of housework I was behind on.
If you are using an app, I recommend you create a category called ‘brain dump’ to hold all of these to do items. Soon, we will begin the work of making this brain dump work for you and creating more categories. For today, just one category is needed.
I also used a very creative memory jogger list to help me find everything that needed to be dumped out of my brain. You can find the post here and you can find the list here. I highly recommend you use a memory jogger or an aid to help you completely empty your brain. I know this website is aimed at ADD and ADHD people, but I honestly believe this tool is so awesome that every busy mom should have a copy.
This step has had a profound impact on my life. My creativity and ability to learn and press forward in meeting goals has skyrocketed. Next, we begin to organize and act on your paper brain to put it to its best use. That step begins on Friday.
Photo credit- From Chaos to Order by Sebastien Weirtz on Flickr