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Reset your brain: do a mind dump!

Rodrigo Franco
Jul 25, 2016 · 2 min read

You know the state — too many tabs open, too many notifications, too much noise. You try to think about what you are doing right now, but you can’t focus. Your mind is in the future, thinking about a bazillion things you need to finish, the email you are supposed to send by the beginning of the month. You need a break, but just stopping for a second and grinding some beans may not do it.

What you really need is something that could get you out of that looping pattern. What could that be? After trying out different things, I found out doing a quick mind dump helps me a lot.

Mind Dumping 101

Set some time aside. Ten minutes, fifteen, a full Pomodoro session — it doesn’t matter. Just the fact that you are allocating that time slice to do something will make it meaningful. Intent makes the ground sacred.

Open your notebook to a new page, or load up a new text file. Again, the media doesn’t matter, but the idea of starting with a blank canvas helps me immensely. In the first line, write the current date and something like Mind Dump. From there, let it flow.

Some people mind dump in prose; I do it in bullet-list style. Line by line, I let my mind pour onto the paper — things I need to do next, things that I have no control over. Impossible, forbidden, things that should never be let out. Anything is fair game in a mind dump.

If I finish and the clock is still ticking, I use the minutes I have left to try and squeeze things out of my mind. By the end of the session, my mind should be pretty dry. If that’s not the case, I reset the clock and start again.

Review Time

After the soul-pouring dump, it’s time to get the analytical glasses on. Line by line, I try to identify the following on my list:

Things I can do in less than 2 minutes
I do it and mark as done. Next.

Things I can delegate to someone
If it takes less than 2 minutes to delegate it, I delegate immediately. Otherwise, it goes to my inbox.

Things that are tied to a specific date
I add them to my calendar, or as a deadline-bound task into my inbox.

Feelings, advices, self-help requests (Non actionable stuff)
I make myself aware of these, and try to extract a next action, or even a new project from it.

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