My Emotional Journal - great for keeping brain dump lists!
So now that you’ve got this big long list of stuff you’ve dumped out of your brain, it’s time to do something with all those bullet points. The process for going through the bullet points really depends a lot on what’s on your list. So I’ll detail the steps below for a couple different types of lists – pick which one applies to you and run with it.
The Emotional Turmoil Brain Dump List
When we have a lot of emotional baggage that we need to work through, sometimes it can seem very overwhelming to look at the big picture of everything that needs to be dealt with. So a Brain Dump list for emotional and psychological issues can help make the process more manageable. For this type of list you would put one small problem on each line and just keep listing things until you’ve emptied your brain of the swirling thoughts. Rather than listing the big things on the list, you’d drill down and list all the little things that make up big issues. So instead of listing “relationship problems” as a single bullet point, you’d list individual problems within each of the relationships you want to work on.
Once you have a finished list, it’s time to deal with the items on the list one by one. DO NOT rearrange the list or try to organize it in any way. In fact, don’t even read the list. Just let it live on paper the way it was created. Take the first item on the list and write it down on a new sheet of paper. Then close the original list and don’t look at it again. Right now your only concern is that single item.
Set a timeframe for you to work on this single item. It could be a day or two or it could be a week or more – depending on the nature of that item and how much time you’ll devote to this process each day. Explore your thoughts and feelings about this single item and journal about as much as you need to. Meditate on the solution, write out your feelings, talk about it with a loved one if that’s appropriate. Do whatever you need to do in order to get this one single issue resolved.
Once you are “finished” with that single item – end it. If you literally need to write “The End” after your journal entry, then do it. Or if it’s just a mental acknowledgement that the topic is closed and you feel like it’s resolved, then just make that mental note. But make a formal END to the single item you’ve just worked through.
Now take a day off. Consciously allow your mind to be clear and take an emotional vacation day from the work you’ve just put in. Because tomorrow, you do the whole process over again with the second thing on your list.
Yes, this is a long process and it could take months or even years to work all the way through the list. As you think of new things to add to the list, you’ll just write them to the end of the current list and deal with them in order. The key is to keep your brain free of the emotional turmoil so you can continue to work on one small issue at a time and grow little by little along the way.
The To-Do List Brain Dump
When you’re planning a big event, vacation, project or just have a lot of stuff to do in life… you’ll likely have a list that looks like a huge task list. For this type of list you’ll actually work with the Brain Dump bulleted list after it’s done to organize it into categories so you can actually get these tasks done in an organized way.
You’ll want to start with some blank sheets of paper – one sheet for each of the main categories of tasks that are included on your Brain Dump list. It can be individual sheets of paper, or just new pages within a journal or even a computerized document – whatever works best for you. At the top of each new page, write the category. Examples might be:
Home improvement tasks
Once you have your multiple lists ready to go, start copying individual bullet points from the master Brain Dump list onto the category pages. You can organize the tasks on each list priority or in groups of like tasks. It might also be a good idea to decide which items need to be done right away and which things can be put off for several weeks or longer. Cross stuff off the Brain Dump list as you transfer them to the category lists and keep going until you are done.
Once you have several sheets of task lists, make a plan to get those to-do lists complete. Don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to do them all at once – that would defeat the purpose of the Brain Dump process. Instead, determine which things are most important and start there. You might want to mark priority tasks with a red star or something that works for you.
Combination Brain Dump Lists
More than likely you’ll end up with a Brain Dump list that is a combination of the above two types of lists. The way to deal with this is to go through your Emotional Turmoil list and pull off the Task List stuff. Cross off tasks as you remove them from the main Brain Dump list and leave the Emotional stuff alone – just ignore that stuff cuz you’re not allowed to be looking at those items, remember.
So now that you’ve got a perfectly clear brain, how does it feel? Have you learned anything about yourself along the way? Have you added anything to the process that’s helped you – that might also help someone else? Please share it with us all.